Here’s two words I bet you never thought you’d hear together: gourmet Popsicles.
At Jaymes’ Fat Face, not only do those two words go together perfectly, you wonder where they’ve been all your life.
I ventured out to the brand new addition to Davis’ food scene, a Popsicle shop, at 11 a.m. on a chilly, cloudy day admittedly not ideal for Popsicles. But as soon as I opened the door, the sunny and friendly owner and founder, Jaymes Luu, greeted me.
She was happy to tell me the origins of her unusual soup, sandwich and Popsicle shop.
“I went to the University of Florida and got a degree in marketing and business,” Luu said. “Then I was working in Napa and Sonoma and taking culinary classes in Rocklin and wanted somewhere in between, so I moved to Davis in 2002.”
Luu started selling Popsicles at the Farmer’s Market in 2005 and opened Fat Face in 2009. Of course, I had to ask what the inspiration was for her restaurant’s highly unusual name.
“It’s a term of endearment with me and my friends,” she said. “I take food seriously, but when I say ‘fat face’ I can’t help but laugh.”
This whimsical attitude carries through in the décor. Childlike drawings hang on the walls, while white butcher paper and crayons cover a long table. All of the cooking equipment is visible behind the low counter.
“Someone said it’s kid-friendly,” Luu said. “I guess it’s the five-year-old in me.”
Luu was so friendly and fun to chat with I almost forgot the reason I was there. I asked what she recommended and she generously offered to let me sample all seven Popsicles on the menu. Popsicle flavors change daily and each rectangular pop costs $2.50.
I started with the Strawberry Lemonade Popsicle. It was sweet and tangy and immediately reminded me of, what else, strawberry lemonade. The texture instantly put cheap supermarket Popsicles I gobbled down as a kid to shame – it had an icy yet slightly soft feel that was actually pleasant to chew on.
Next came Prickly Pear & Citrus and Champagne & Grape Popsicles. Both were mellow and perfectly sweetened flavors that again tasted astonishingly similar to their names.
I asked Luu how she makes the Popsicles, and she explained that she makes all of them using fruit, water, sugar, herbs and spices from the Farmer’s Market.
The next flavors, Melon Horchata and Thai Tea & Sweet Potato, were less thrilling to me simply because I’m not a big fan of horchata or tea. But the Lime Avocado Popsicle was an unexpectedly blissful melding of two distinct flavors. The tang of the lime was complemented by a mild hint of avocado that was really delicious.
The final flavor was Strawberry Coconut, which tasted like a sweeter version of the Strawberry Lemonade and would be perfect for any of you non-ambitious eaters out there.
Now that the Popsicle frenzy was over, I decided to get a sandwich to go. The sandwich menu changes daily, and the day’s choices were roast pork, fig and salmon BLT. A half sandwich costs $4 and $7 for a whole. I went with half of the salmon BLT, which turned out to be one of the best sandwiches I have had in Davis. The bread was thick and chewy and the salmon was flavorful and tasted great with the bacon. I found myself marveling that it was only $4, because I could easily imagine finding it on the lunch menu of an expensive restaurant.
Before I left, Luu offered me a taste of both of the soups, which cost $4 each. The winter squash was creamy and nutty, while the broccoli was spicy and very tasty as well. Soup flavors also change daily.
Anyone who appreciates fresh, creative food will find Jaymes’ Fat Face well worth the trek out to L St. and limited availability – only open Wednesday through Friday and Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market.
Luu has created a one-of-a-kind establishment that is not to be missed. I, at least, am already thinking about what kind of Popsicle I’ll try next.
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at email@example.com.