It’s a long time since I have been to Jones the Grocer. It’s a place where we all used to buy cheese and pastries and salads to take to parties. That’s when it was in Woollahra. It’s back, in a rather large corner of Westfield CBD right in the place that Justin North or Becasse Restaurant and store used to occupy. It’s probably a handier place to be.
It’s Wednesday night around 6pm and the shopping centre and food courts are empty, but there is a nice glow coming from the Jones the Grocer store. There are about 20 diners and a group of about 10 people chatting down in the back section of the restaurant. A large cheese display is at one end of the bar and a charcuterie display at the other end. Here you can buy cheese to take away as you always could, but you can also sit at the bar with a drink and cheese plate $18 for three cheeses and accompaniments or a charcuterie plate, $19 with house made bread, after a hard day in the city. The retail store can offer you some great pantry staples – a bag of carnaroli rice, maple vinegar, raspberry jam or Jones made cordial.
There’s the option to drop in for breakfast 7 days a week. It’s a pretty cool meeting place in a frantic shopping centre. We are told the menu is designed to share by Masey, the Manager and so we think this is a great idea and order 2 entrees and 2 mains
The first plate is Salt and Pepper Calamari $18, Thai herb salad with tamarind chilli and lime. A very large plate of tender calamari that had a wonderfully spice crusted exterior and a chilli spiked , citrusy salad full of herbs and fresh crunchy ingredients.
Then “King Prawns, avocado, orange, fennel, gem lettuce, almonds and fire roasted chilli dressing” $23.00. This salad was also generously proportioned and contained fine shreds of fennel, but no avocado or dressing of any kind . The 4 prawns were sweet and very fresh but there seemed to be no taste to the fennel and all of the elements on the plate seemed at odds with each other, without a dressing of some kind to bind them . Perhaps they just forgot to put it on.
Grilled herbed Lamb cutlets with chickpea currant and parsley salad, eggplant relish $28. The tender little cutlets were cooked beautifully and were generously portioned at about 5. There were no herbs on the cutlets themselves. The salad turned into an eggplant relish cooked down with currants resulting in a sweet sticky base that I would have preferred as the promised parsley and currant salad. Still the ingredients are good and the dish is value for money
Twice cooked Pork Belly, caramel apple, prune puree, pickle fennel and walnut salad. $25. The pork belly has the ultimate crunchy skin and soft interior, the fennel pickle is quite acidic but the walnuts crunchy adding texture. Caramel apple is a gorgeously roasted flavoursome piece of fruit that works so well with the pork and the prune puree adds a needed bit of “sauce”. I am so very full now but I am sure I can squeeze in just one light dessert. There is nothing too challenging in this department with a sticky date pudding, chocolate cake and creme brulee amongst the cast.
Lemon Verbena Panna cotta with granita, strawberries and almonds $10 for all desserts. Lemon Verbena is a strong flavour, but a refreshing one with strawberries and crunchy almonds. Now completely full we take a look around the restaurant. Burgers are popular and come out in towering freshly baked buns on a board with melting cheese and thick fries. $17 and there’s the comfort of a large steak with the choice of sauces $25.
It’s always hard producing food for a diverse crowd with breakfast, lunch , dinner and snacks included. Bread and all kinds of pastries are made in house. Not everything is perfect but it’s well priced and generous. There is a wine and spirit list with very competitive pricing. Wines by the glass start well under $10
The people down the back of the restaurant have been attending a Masterclass. These are held in the private dining room area, that also boasts a demonstration kitchen.
Afterwards they are treated to coffee and Dessert in a rather spectacular way by the pastry chef. Here’s what they have. The drip filter coffee is prepared while the pastry chef dishes up.
The table is splashed with berry sauce, salted caramel, chocolate sauce, chocolate bits, praline, freeze dried raspberry dust and truffles along with an individual piece of chocolate cake with salted caramel. I would be willing to lick this table. This is happening at my house soon.
This is the program for the Masterclasses.
Shop 5018, Level 5 Westfield
Cnr Market & Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 8072 7755
My Kitchen Stories dined as a guest of Jones the Grocer, however all opinions are uninfluenced and strictly my own.