Jones the Grocer has taken over the space left empty by the quick departure of Justin North and his Westfield restaurants. It's nice to see something fill the vast space and that things seem to be going well for Jones...the restaurant is buzzing on the Thursday night that we pay them a visit for dinner.
The space is really quite large, part fancy grocery store (with a to-die-for cheese cabinet) and a lovely restaurant. The restaurant area is very open and spacious with a long open kitchen along one side and a bar separating the eating part of the evening from the shopping part of the evening.
Swah and I are seated at a window table that overlooks Pitt St Mall. We also have a birds eye view into the gym across the way at the Midcity Centre - suckers! I'd rather be eating a three-course meal at Jones the Grocer than skipping along to the grapevine.
Whilst we peruse the menu we sip on some sparkling mineral water. It's very...sparkling!
Swah and I decide to share all our dishes and we start off with a plate of grilled herbed lamb cutlets, spiced cauliflower, hummus and cardamon praline ($20.00). Both of our entrees were of a very generous size, so if you're watching your wallet I think you could order an entree here and be very satisfied.
The lamb was perfectly cooked - still a bit pink in the middle, but deliciously caramelized on the outside. At first the cardamon praline seems really weird as it's very sweet when eaten on its on, but couple it with a mouthful of everything on the plate it works really well, a great mouthful of sweet, savoury, soft and crunchy.
Next up is the BBQ free-range quail with spinach + apple salad with a bois bourdian sauce ($21.00). The quail wasn't as well caramlised as the lamb but was still very tender. Quails are so tiny...I always feel a bit sad eating them - time to toughen up Miss Piggy! Two thumbs up though to Jones the Grocer for using free-range quail here - really great to see.
Our first main for the night was an AMAZINGLY delicious free-range slow roasted pork cutlet with carrot puree, poached prune and shaved cabbage pangrattato salad ($32). Again I'm thrilled to see another free-range option on the menu. This pork was so flavoursome, and so juicy with just a thin sliver of crackling along the rind. I was SO bummed I was sharing this as I so wanted to pick up the bone and start gnawing on it! The cabbage salad was lovely and fresh and a great bit of freshness for quite a meaty dish and the carrot puree and poached prunes added a little sweet note to the dish.
The slow cooked beef short rib with roast eye fillet, mushrooms and red wine sauce ($35) is definetly a dish for meat lovers! By this stage both Swah and I were started to get the meat sweats but I soildered on as I could not get enough of the crispy "bark" along the tender short rib. Oh boy, yum! The roast eye fillet was still nice and tender despite my asking for well-done. Instead of the eye fillet and mushrooms though I would've liked a bit of salad, like I said the meat sweats were kicking in. If you do order this dish I would definitely recommend a side salad.
We spied a bowl of Jones chips cooked three times with tomato + fennel ketchup ($7.50) on another table and just HAD to have them. Anything cooking three times in my house means we've forgotten about it on the stove and it's burned, so I'm always in awe of the triple cooking technique. This weren't quite as crispy as I was expecting, but they had a great fluffiness to the inside. I liked the zesty tomato + fennel ketchup, perhaps I could try and make something like this from my tomatoes if/when then ripen.
Despite feeling quite full I was dining with Swah, the dessert queen, and I think it would've been mean to pass over dessert. I couldn't do that to Swah. She also picked both of the desserts - leave it to the experts I say!
First up is the warm sticky date pudding with salted caramel sauce + vanilla bean ice-cream ($12.00) that two of the waitstaff assured us was pretty much the best thing...ever, and boy they weren't wrong. The pudding was so amazing...soft, warm, rich (but not too rich) and moist. I loved that there was *just* a hint of salt in the caramel sauce as it kept me wanting more...and more...and more. Again, bummer for sharing.
I love how light the dark chocolate and raspberry mousse ($12.00) was. The dark chocolate mousee was quite rich, but the lightness of it made it feel like we were eating air. The raspberry component was quite tart and it matched perfectly with the rich, dark chocolate - they balanced each other perfectly. Honestly, if you're really into desserts (or even just like them a little bit) I'd recommend just coming here for these two dishes. You won't be sorry!
Jones the Grocer is at Shop 5018, Level 5 Westfield Sydney (corner Market & Castlereagh St, Sydney). Phone them on 8072 7755.