Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones | The Jones Family Project, 78 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3JL
The Jones Family Project has a lot going for it – a prime spot on Shoreditch’s Great Eastern Street opposite The Hoxton hotel, meat from renowned butchers the Ginger Pig who supply the Hawksmoor, very well-made cocktails, friendly staff and a touch of quirkiness.
It certainly wasn’t what we expected, not too Shoreditchy and industrial, more homely with mismatched zoned rooms and even a bookcase filled with books to share amongst customers. There isn’t actually a family behind it, but a large group of collaborators including the co-founders of the Pitcher & Piano chain, but don’t let that put you off.
There’s two bars, one is upstairs to which they’ve done something clever – functional shelves that during the day display tea and coffee, then swivel around to reveal booze for the evening service, we want this in our house! Trees sprout through tables, lights gently twinkle giving a really cosy feel. The downstairs bar has cute intimate booth seating and an interchangeable stand-alone dining space, most recently it was made into a 1920s gin distillery.
I have to say that I wasn’t keen on the decor of the main dining area, loved the tartan carpet but the heavy lime green chairs made me feel like I was in a Holiday Inn, or worse – Wetherspoons. Such a stark contrast to the sleek booths just around the corner by the bar. Great original artwork throughout however – a print reminiscent of my childhood hung on the wall by our table. Music was chilled and the lighting low, so perfect for a date night.
The wine list was more extensive that we imagined, the cheapest bottle of red at £19 but we were in the mood for cocktails (when are we not?) There just so happened to be one with my name on it, quite literally – the Saffron Sour £9 with lemon juice and orange bitters. The balance of Saffron was just right, this is probably one of my favourite cocktails of the year, but then I am biased. Ade went for his current favourite – Diplomatico Old Fashioned £11, what set this apart was the addition of a few coffee beans that ‘brewed’ and altered the flavour of the drink the longer you left it.
No small plates here, you get to eat whatever you order all to yourself, just like the old days, hooray! To start I went for the Spiced crispy squid £7.50 with a chilli pepper sauce and lime mayonnaise, which unfortunately resembled dollops of ketchup and mayonnaise on the plate, cheapening it somewhat. Although I just raved about not having to share, this is actually a dish made for sharing, it was tasty just perhaps too big a serving.
Ade had the Date and chorizo wrapped in bacon with a white bean and piquillo pepper sauce £8. Far too overpoweringly rich for me but he adored it. It was like concentrated maple cured bacon, evocative of the crispy bacon and maple we had in Vegas – his perfect blend of sweet and savory.
Next up I was so very temped to order another Saffron Sour but the Jones Winter Apple Pie £9 sounded like it would go perfectly with my main course of Pork rib eye steak £18.50. A huge glistening hunk of meat atop a warm salad of chorizo, potatoes, savoy cabbage, honey balsamic and charred chillies.
Oh my goodness, absolute meat heaven! The pork was nicely charred in the Josper oven, yet succulent and tender once I delved in. The mix of chilli in the cabbage gave it an extra kick whilst the honey balsamic complimented the meat. The cocktail was the cherry on the cake with warming cinnamon tones – a perfect duo to have on a freezing cold December night.
Ade also went down the Josper route, it’s so hard not to when you know the meat is from such a good supplier. The Rump of black-faced hogget £24 caught his eye as he’d never tried hogget before, nor heard of it. It took a quick Google to find out it was not quite a lamb and not mutton either, more of a toddler (he checked the menu at work pre-visit). It came served with truffled potato dauphinoise, grilled broccoli, mint chutney and red wine sauce. The meat was cooked pink in the middle with that crust that you can only get from a Josper grill.
By now the huge Christmas group had arrived, all 30 of them sat around a massive dining table making a right old noise, at least they were having a good time but I couldn’t help but think they’ll probably be too drunk and distracted to appreciate what’s on their plate.
When it came to dessert there was only one choice for me – Langley’s gin and orange semifreddo orange and crushed meringues £5. Although a bit of a weird follow-up to my cosy main course, this was so cold it jolted my teeth, but it was refreshing, light and unusual, which can be hard to find on dessert menus.
Sticking with the fruity theme, Ade went for the Warm almond and Amarena cherry cake £5, served with a dash (not enough) of pistachio creme Anglaise. It’s almost like these desserts were made for us, we get stupidly excited when this happens as we’ve had enough ‘generic’ chocolate brownies to last a lifetime (that said there’s one on the menu here too).
With slightly swollen but happy bellies, we left the warmth of The Jones Family Project behind, wishing it well for the future. It’s actually been around for a whole year, but we’d never heard of it. People need to hear of it, because what they’re offering is really great food with high quality ingredients, and oh those cocktails…
Opening hours: Noon-midnight Monday-Friday; 10am-midnight
Saturday; 10am-6pm Sunday
Nearest station: Old Street (5 mins walk)
We ate as guests of The Jones Family Project, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.