It's been just about a year since Jack Neill and Zachary Schoettler opened a self-named cafe on the lower-level space at the Woman's Industrial Exchange. Jack and Zach Foods is also a commissary and sales outlet for the Baltimore natives' pickled vegetables, sausages and vegetable patties, which they had previously been selling at area farmers' markets.
Jack and Zach keeps things simple. For breakfast there's granola, oatmeal, egg sandwiches and pancakes. The lunch menu isn't much bigger. There is a hummus sandwich, a variety of savory vegetable burgers and a changing selection of homemade sausages, which are freshly grilled up for lunch orders. They make a great lunch, too.
On a recent afternoon, Jack and Zach was featuring one flavored with beer and apple, one with yellow curry, and an Andouille sausage with cayenne, garlic, onion and Sriracha sauce. They call this one the Firebomb, and it's terrific. Accompanied by homemade potato chips, the sausage is served on a toasted bun with pickled onions. Look for the jars of whole grain mustard, homemade of course, on the counter.
Some folks knew this space, which you enter on the Pleasant Street side, when it was a Sofi's Crepes. But in the old days, the small tin-ceilinged room was an extension of the Exchange's famous lunchroom. Businessmen, mostly, would come here to have lunch at the 12-seat counter.
The white walls are hung with Baltimore ephemera, but Baltimore School of the Arts grads have given the old space a youthful feel. Schoettler graduated from the Oregon Culinary Institute, and Jack and Zach has some of the do-it-ourselves earnestness associated with the food scene in Portland, Ore., complete with a blackboard listing the local farms where Jack and Zach gets its vegetables, yogurt, honey, eggs and even its flour.
Jack and Zach Food is a great place to go with an office pal or by yourself. The indie music selection is spot on, and there are magazines provided to keep you company. But you won't need them. Neill and Schoettler, who seemed shy last year, have grown into their proprietor roles. Both are the grandsons of retired newspapermen — Washington Post writer Paul Valentine and longtime Baltimore Sun features writer Carl Schoettler. They've acquired the gift of gab.
firstname.lastname@example.org Jack and Zach Food
Where: 33 N. Charles St. (Pleasant Street entrance)
Contact: 443-435-7647, jackandzachfood.com
Hours: Open Sunday through Friday for breakfast and lunch
Lunch entrees: $5.50-$8.50