Jam Hot Chicken

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Jamhot fountain

There are five levels of spiciness for the sandwiches at Jam Hot Chicken, a walkup window eatery in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square. The middle one is hot, which is what I ordered. I cannot imagine the fiery hell of the next level up, which is labeled hotter, let alone the spiciest one, jam. “You’ve been warned” is written next to that one on the menu. Woe to the person who mistakenly thinks jam means sweet jellied preserves.

Hot was plenty hot for me. I had ordered the Sando, which like the other two sandwiches was made with a thick slab of breast meat, breaded and deep fried. This one was dressed with claw and house-made pickles with a proprietary sauce called comeback (probably not a good name for a food item) and served on a buttered bun.

Jamhot sandwich

The sandwich was an impressive size, almost unwieldy, but I managed. The quality was excellent – the menu touts the Bell & Evans brand’s “all natural, hormone and antibiotic-free boneless breasts – as you should expect for a chicken sandwich costing $14.

But man oh man that heat.

On one hand, it’s nice to see food that is promoted as hot actually served hot. There was a time when local restaurants, especially Asian eateries, would tout a spicy dish and then serve it mild. This was especially frustrating in Thai restaurants – you had to beg for the dish to have some heat, or you had to specify “Thai hot” and hope you’ll be taken seriously.

On the other hand, eating something should not be painful. The pepperiness that coated my chicken also coated my mouth and my lips and caused profuse sweating. I still had a burning sensation on my lips three hours later.

But it would be silly to come to a place called Jam Hot Chicken and order the mildest, which is no heat at all. You might as well go to a drive-through chain chickenrie.

I also ordered a side of fries, which were fine but I question whether they were worth the $4 fee. (I know that food costs are crazy these days, but four bucks for a small stack of fried potatoes is beyond the pale.)

Jamhot ext

Place your order at the walkup window, then wait about 20 minutes for your name to be called. You may eat your food at one of the picnic tables or perch on a ledge. I recommend staying close to the fountain just in case you need to dunk your head under the water.

People who challenge themselves to reach the upper levels of the Scoville Heat Unit scale will be happiest here. And I would suggest that if you’re one of those heat-seeking types, the next time you dine at a Thai restaurant, tell your server that you want your food Jam hot. That should do it.

Jam Hot Chicken is at 400 W. New England Ave., Winter Park (map). It is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday. There is no published phone number.

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