Jones the Grocer. What’s in a name? Hearing these words, what comes to mind?
Well for one, I would not have expected it to be a full blown restaurant in addition to an artisan grocery store. Indeed, Jones the Grocer sources stuff from all over the place. But what for the value proposition of “why should I buy from here?” Well, that’s where things get innovative – the menu for the restaurant component of Jones uses the ingredients that you can buy. Brilliance – if you like the food, you can buy the goods to make it yourself!
That is of course, if the food is up to scratch, so let’s see if this “showcase restaurant chain” can pull its weight.
Date Last Visited: 19/11/13
Address: Level 5, Sydney Westfield
Recommended Dish(es): Soft herb risotto, Warm Sticky Date Pudding
As I was invited on behalf of Cav Con PR, the usual disclaimer applies: I was invited, but my opinions remain my own.
Another interesting fact about Jones: they are under the partnership management of the LVMH group - the Louis Vuitton Moet & Hennessey group. Well, how about that. Yes, big shots manage Jones, and thus they have stores all over the world. If you see one in Singapore, or Dubai or anywhere else the food will never be the same. This is most appropriately reflective of the produce that can be acquired at their respective locations.
I brought my good friend Ameya to Jones as my guest of honour – treating friends makes eating out just so much better, no?
Before we even began perusing our menus, bottled mineral water arrives on our table. These usually run at $7 for 750ml, which is about right for mineral water, if that’s your thing.
I’m actually one of those weird people that prefer a bit of carbonation to mineral water (though I normally just get tap), so this bottle actually fit the bill quite nicely.
Jones has several sections in their Sydney menu – you have salads, you have mains, and you have desserts. Oddly enough, our salads came after our mains, but it didn’t really matter in the end – the salads definitely are sizeable and can substitute mains.
Ameya, being a vegetarian ordered the soft herb risotto w/fresh asparagus. I didn’t think it was going to amount to much, but I was amazingly wrong.
Whilst not as saucy or creamy as most other risottos I’ve seen, this one still packs that deliciously gooey texture a good risotto is to have. The rice is soft and consistently so, but doesn’t just melt away into nothing. Really quite nicely cooked.
What really makes this dish star though is that it simply tastes great. There was a serious hit of flavour to this risotto! Add some crunch from the asparagus on the side and you have a winning risotto, even if it is vegetarian to this carnivore. I definitely recommend this one.
JTG really made this a wonderfully tactile experience, contrasting the perfect consistency of the risotto with the crunchiness of the asparagus. I absolutely loved the taste and the portion size means that this is probably one of the best vegetarian meals that I’ve had in a very long time
My main, in the form of angel hair pasta w/blue swimmer crab comes in a massive portion size. Seriously, I did not expect there to be so much pasta for the money I paid. Made me question myself in ordering a salad as well…
While this is great from a value proposition perspective, in terms of taste this was the weakest dish I had that day at Jones. The pasta itself was quite dry and perhaps a little more duro than I’d have expected the dish to be. In addition to that, the taste was…really, really lacking. I simply couldn’t taste much flavour.
Best summed up as eating semi-cooked pasta that has very little seasoning on it. A low point for the meal.
Good flavours are restored when the first “salad” dish comes along in the guise of macaroni w/charred cauliflower. This is a seriously large serving of pasta, and I was already getting full from everything earlier.
Creamy is an apt way to describe the macaroni, served cold. Best shared between friends.
One thing that I was worried about at the start that it would be way too creamy to be pleasant, especially for such a large serving. However, I was genuinely surprised with the fact that this dish continuously tasted wonderful with the cheesiness never being overpowering.
Other than that, a fairly standard dish – a simple dish that can’t do wrong.
A second salad that we tried is the pumpkin & roast vegetable salad w/Persian feta. This country-style salad brings with it stronger salad elements, particularly through the judicious use of pumpkin and feta. Just look at it.
The result? A salad that’s actually not boring! Huzzah! But yes really, many textural elements are present, and flavour is there too imparted by the aforementioned, as well as a deliciously sweet dressing. I can’t imagine it’s a healthy salad, but healthy salads are boring.
Speaking of healthy things that are boring, here’s one that’s definitely the opposite of that. The first dessert arrives as an inviting warm sticky date pudding w/salted caramel sauce. You know where this is going – when have you had salted caramel and been disappointed? When have you been let down by a sticky pudding?
Well, it is possible, but this dessert isn’t going to be one of those situations. If you’re not a sweet tooth, turn away.
But yes, it really is quite a nice pudding – the salted caramel sauce tastes like what you’d expect. Only criticism was that it was a bit too runny, but only slightly. Overall sweetness is through the roof, so up to you to decide whether that’s good or bad. I quite enjoyed it. The pudding itself is served warm, which is a really nice touch. Seriously, I love it when desserts combine warm and cold elements. In this case, that comes as the vanilla bean ice cream.
While nothing particularly special about it (it is vanilla, after all), it complements the sweetness of the rest of the pudding really well by being relatively un-sweet. Thus, it’s like a cleanser between pudding bites. Works well.
The second dessert ordered is something much lighter, by way of citrus panna cotta w/strawberries, basil & candied almonds. Boy, have I had many panna cottas in my day, and while my fondest one still remains the Garden of Aphrodite at Xanthi, this one is definitely the fanciest one I’ve had since. Presentation-wise, it looks great.
Taste-wise…is also great! Yes, this a very refreshing panna cotta. It doesn’t taste heavy at all, unlike some I’ve had, and is instead very uplifting and light. The candied almonds add the crunch to an otherwise textureless dessert, while the strawberries w/compote bring out delicious colour. It’s really well executed, not much more needs to be said.
The only complaint that I have is that they didn’t give me a spoon small enough to scrape the remnants at the bottom of the cup, meaning that my esteemed friend was forced (against his will, of course) to finish off my dessert and be so polite as to not let any food go to waste
Since Jones the Grocer is also a grocer, I feel compelled to provide pictures of the interior in general. Feel free to explore the pictures!
You just knew they did baked goods too didn’t you
There seems to be a bit of fuss over just how good Jones the Grocer is. Putting all of that aside, I think it’s actually a very competent restaurant to eat it, despite its name – belying its true nature. I had also expected prices to be fleecing, since it does take up one of the most expensive lots in Westfield on level 5. This does lead me to wonder if Jones will actually remain open…I hope so.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
- Just good food in general
- Decent prices
Not so Awesome:
- The angel hair pasta is a death trap, avoid at all costs
- Doesn’t have an ‘x’ factor to the food (though this isn’t the point sometimes)