Firstly, Merry (belated) Christmas, Seasons Greetings and happy crazy Boxing Day to all of my fellow readers! Hope you had an epic time pigging out with your family/friends/special someone and drinking so much like I have been over the last two weeks. Recovery has been messy.
When Jones the Grocer opened at the former site of Justin North's Quarter 21 and Becasse, I thought that it was a brand new restaurant. In fact, it had actually been around for more than 16 years when it was based in Woolahra. In December 2012, the flagship store was relocated to the easier-to-access Westfield Sydney City. As the name indicates, it opens as both a restaurant and a cafe with a patisserie and a retail and deli store containing lots of foodie essentials and gourmet ingredients.
We (CC and I) were kindly invited to try out the menu at Jones the Grocer which is interesting since I have tried this restaurant once prior to this night and walked past this dining joint nearly everyday this year. Given that I was satisfied by the food I've had previously, I was intrigued to discover what else it offers to satisfy my lunch/post work dinner cravings.
With worldwide branches in New Zealand, UAE, Qatar and Singapore; Jones the Grocer delivers excellent quality gourmet ingredients sourced from specialised food producers. It even has space for loads of cheese and a meat slicer that gets me drooling.
Loads of wine to choose from
The atmosphere has its noisy and quiet moments but generally it was a calmer atmosphere compared to the small bars and casual dining joints that have been populating the city lately.
We started our night off with the Salt and Pepper Squid with yuzu mayonaise, Thai herb salad dressed with Tamarind, chilli and lime sauce; that was recommended to us by our waiter. Gotta say that we were impressed by the colourful presentation of this plate. The Thai salad had a sweet and zesty taste thanks to the yuzu mayo and chilli and lime sauce. However, we were blown away by the crispy and lightly crumbed squid. After eating away the batter, I've found that the squid itself had a tender bite which matched well with the strong flavours of the tamarind sauce. With all those ingredients, it was no surprise that we could detect some Asian inspried flavours in this yummy plate. While it was CC's dish, she was not a fan of coriander so I helped out in eating the salad greens and some squid pieces on her behalf hehe.
Salt and Pepper Squid with yuzu mayonaise, Thai herb salad dressed with Tamarind, chilli and lime sauce ($18.00)
Since Jones the Grocer opened at Westfield, the Angel hair pasta with blue swimmer crab, chilli, rocket, garlic and grana padano was on my food radar mainly because I love any dish with crab. Again, we loved the presentation with this plate though I was surprised that this would be considered an entree dish (it is pasta after all...). Again we noticed the Asian incluences due to the thinness of the pasta reminding us of vermicelli or egg noodles. Everything on this plate worked well with each other as you take each bite from the thin and silky angel hair pasta to the relatively mild chilli flakes and the bitter yet fresh rocket. While there was a slight buttery taste, the grated grana padano cheese adds another layer of bite to this textual dish. Didn't expect to enjoy this dish with cheese but it actually made it even better. As for the crab, there was generous servings of crab meat prevalent in this dish which is absolute perfection for us.
Angel hair pasta with blue swimmer crab, chilli, rocket, garlic and grana padano ($19.00)
I was extremely indecisive about my choice of main but ended up going with the free-range slow roasted pork cutlet with carrot puree, poached prune and shaved cabbage pangrattato salad. Partly because of my weird obsession with anything involving breadcrumbs/pangrattato. On the night, I've found that the pork was a tad dry though it was still quite tasty especially with the lovely pork crackling. It was quite intriguing trying out the poached prunes which had a heavy and very sweet texture. Also the cabbage salad had a bitter taste but the crumbled pangrattato balanced out the flavours.
Free-range slow roasted pork cutlet with carrot puree, poached prune and shaved cabbage pangrattato salad ($32.00)
While the waiter told us that it will take a while to make this dish, CC couldn't help ordering the slow-cooked beef short rib with roasted eye-fillet, mushroom and red wine. If you think that sounds like a mouthful, believe me it is. The serving was delivered to us as a (VERY) massive chunk of meat with a smudge of green pesto sauce on top and the small pile of mushrooms hidden underneath the short-rib. The pulled beef was so tender that it was easy to cut through each piece when we wanted to share. There wasn't a lot of mushrooms nor was there much red wine sauce but we made the most of the additional ingredients on this plate to balance it out. There was also a generous amount of fat on the edge of the meat which will make meat-lovers drool. Apparently there was a small piece of eye-fillet in this dish but I don't remember spotting this at all when I helped out (CC can you help fill in the blanks please? Thanks bro). Will definitely recommended this as a shared dish unless you really love eating that much meat in one sitting. We both ended up suffering a terrible case of meat sweats by the end. Maybe we should have gotten a seafood main?
Slow-cooked Beef Short Rib with Roasted Eye-Fillet, Mushroom and Red Wine ($35.00)
OK we were dying by this point but as the saying goes: there is ALWAYS room for dessert! After seeing the choices on the dessert menu, we knew we had to order them no matter what. And man we did not regret that decision. At all.
CC opted for the warm sticky date pudding with salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream aka her idea of heaven on a plate. While I had a few bites, I've noticed how amazing this tasted with all of those ingredients. The warm pudding itself had a soft and moist texture and it was only slightly rich but manageable to handle. The (thankfully) generous amount of salted caramel sauce and the perfectly rounded vanilla bean ice cream added even more flavour to the already amazingly delicious pudding which will bring happiness to your taste buds. I'm generally not a fan of vanilla ice cream but this version just made me fall in love with it (plus I do love vanilla bean). So heavenly! I'm pretty sure it ended with us attempting to scoop up all of the sauce. It was no surprise that CC wasn't as keen to share this dish. Not even surprised that she was still craving about it a week later!
Warm Sticky Date Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream ($12.00)
The Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse was equally lovely with its smoothness. It was a bit heavier and richer compared to the sticky date pudding but the sprinkles of shaved dark chocolate was pleasing to the eye and added a good amount of crunch. Loved the raspberry layer, which added a lighter, sweet and fruit taste to this decadent dessert. There was also loads of tiny chocolate balls which are pretty much like popping candy that bursts in your mouth as you eat each of those treats.
Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse ($12.00)
The atmosphere was generally chilled and relaxing with jazzy music playing in the background. Bonus points for the service being friendly and attentive to our requests. Since it's close to work, I wouldn't mind coming back here again during lunch or after work one day to try out other dishes from the menu including the seafood mains and the sticky date pudding. Would even do some shopping here once in a while. Probably won't eat here regularly though because the prices for some of the dishes do lean towards the more expensive side. Aside from the prices, we're pretty impressed with what Jones the Grocer offers whether you wanted a quick coffee, a take-away sandwich from the bakery, dessert cakes or just simply a round of gourmet food shopping since many of the ingredients in the menu were also available in the grocery.
Disclaimer: The Random Foodie dined as guests of Cavcon and Jones the Grocer. Opinions remain personal.
Jones the Grocer
Level 5, Westfield Sydney, Cnr Market Street and Castlereagh Street,
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8072 7755
Mon-Sat: 8:00am - late
Sun: 8:00am - 7:00pm