Trends: Mason Jars

It's official: serving food and beverages in mason jars is officially a trend.

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By David Hammond

We spotted them at Lillie’s Q (1856 W. North) last summer, and they’re serving drinks, cheese and even salads in them at Hoyt’s (71 E. Wacker).  Soon, they’re even going to be serving drinks in them at the elegant Café des Architectes in the Hotel Sofitel (20 E. Chestnut), where I recently had one of the finest French-influenced dinners I’ve ever had in Chicago; I cannot imagine how these serving vessels are going to “feel” in those surroundings.

It’s official: serving food and beverages in mason jars is officially a trend.

The thinking behind serving food and drink in mason jars is that it lends a downhome feel to the experience.

Experimenting with different serving vessels is cool, but I have to admit, I’m not that happy about slurping a drink over the glass threads or lip of a mason jar. It doesn’t help.  It doesn’t make me feel comfortable or “at home.”

And when it comes to eating other things out of mason jars, I’m fine with cheese or olives or pickles, but salads don’t seem to gain much…however, it is kind of nice to be able to see all the colorful ingredients in there, stacked vertically. At Hoyt’s last week, we had a dessert of chocolate pudding  and whipped cream with berries that looked beautiful in clear jar;  it is appetizing to be able to see all the ingredients in a dish.

I do not believe the mason jar trend has yet to hit Oak Park. Maybe in 2012 or 2113…

Have you spotted any restaurant trends in Oak Park or Chicago? Do tell, please.

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David Hammond from  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 3:45 PM

"Stupid" is harsh, I agree. Mason jars have a place, no doubt at all. Now, though, restaurants seem to use them BECAUSE they're a trend. It's just a docile surrender to what other people are doing. Their utility is not the issue. And so Mason jars are being used as serving vessles for everything, whether it makes sense or not (and usually, I think, it doesn't). Violet Aura, weren't you a DC comics character?

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 10:53 AM

I use mason jars all the time when I'm juicing. For one, they are the only vessels that you can transport and guarantee a leak-proof container, plus the wide-mouthed ones are easy to clean, offer better retention of cold and have a better mouth-feel compared to plastic (I don't buy the threaded lip issue at all. When I sip it feels great; a lot better than an insulated coffee container.) I don't respect calling things 'stupid,' either. I will say that schmancy restaurants are sooo pretentious!

Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 9:14 AM

I just had food served in mason jars (an appetizer & a dessert) at Davanti Enoteca, one of the hot new restaurants in the city. It's crowded there because it got written up by both Time Out and Chicago magazines.

David Hammond from  

Posted: April 19th, 2011 8:52 AM

"Stupid." That's what Patricia Wells, author of the "Salad as a Meal" (2011) told me when I mentioned that a restaurant in Chicago is offering a Caprese salad in a Mason jar. I tried the "it looks pretty stacked verticlaly" argument on her, but she wasn't buying it. Salad as a meal, yes; salad in a Mason jar, no.

Pauline from River Forest  

Posted: April 15th, 2011 1:10 PM

I've been using Mason jars for years (very durable), however I found that people are baking/cooking and serving in them - which I am planning on trying.

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