Jones Family Project is a relaxed, friendly, and very comfortable place to enjoy a meal while catching up with friends. Spread over two levels, you can choose to pop into the ground floor bar for a cocktail and a bite or head downstairs for a full-fledged meal. The understated décor of the lower ground restaurant helps open up the space and create an airy feel while the enthusiastic energy of the staff will make you feel at home. The food is mainly European inspired and focuses on fresh UK produce – essentially a bit of gourmet home cooking executed with style.
I first tried out JFP at the soft open and enjoyed it although there were a few things I wasn’t thrilled about, most notably the texture of the burger. Since then, the menu has been revamped (and is about to change once again with the warmer season) so when some old college friends were in town for a catch up it was the first place that came to mind. Plus, Anna (the matriarch of JFP) has told me they’d re-worked the burger so I was keen to try it out.
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★★ Atmosphere: ★★★★☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
The bar at JFP is a good choice for gathering your crew. The cocktail menu is constantly being refreshed and you can challenge the bartenders to make something to match your tastes. My personal favorite is still the espresso martini which is one of the best I’ve had in the City.
If you prefer to hit multiple places for your outing, Beard to Tail and Callooh Callay are a short walk away and serve up some excellent cocktails. There is also Night Jar but you might be a bit pushed to wander in without a reservation.
What to eat?
Of course, I was there to try the burger so naturally that’s what I got. But first, a quick word on the starters. The bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo remain my personal choice for the starters as the sweet/salty/spicy combination is just brilliant. I’m not sure where JFP sources it’s chorizo, but I’d be keen to get my hands on it as it’s the right balance of flavor and texture without being oily and slick.
The other starter I enjoyed was the Thai Red Curry Crispy Squid. It’s a different take on your usual salt’n’pepper calamari but the rich aroma and slight heat of the red curry with the crispy batter is a definite winner. We also tried the cornbread which is perfectly adequate on its own (I think a little more sweetness from the corn would help) but steps up a level with the addition of the smoked chipotle butter.
Okay, so let’s talk about this burger. The previous oxtail burger has been replaced by a coarsely ground beef chuck patty topped with oxtail served on a glazed demi-brioche bun topped with braised oxtail. The patty is flavourful and juicy with a rich meaty taste – a massive step up from the shredded oxtail previously on offer. You get more texture with the meat giving just enough resistance for a proper bite. The sharp cheddar and streaky bacon round out the flavor giving it a full mouth feel although it’s a bit of an ask to get both at £2/each. Finally, the bun was a win flavorwise but had a fatal flaw in that it couldn’t keep up with the flow of juices and disintegrated before I was halfway through. I would also like a bit more heat – perhaps if I could add the chipotle butter next time to the bun it might help.
Dessert-wise, JFP continues to shine with Anna’s triple chocolate brownie still a winner for me. It’s ultra-decadent and fantastically fudgy which makes it a bit of a stretch for one person to eat (although I try my best) and for a fiver it’s great value. We also tried the Brandy Raisin Bread & Butter Pudding which was a crowd favourite with a very moist pudding expertly balanced the rich butter elements with the sweet bite of the brandy and raisins.
After all that, I think I need a drink…
Well you’re in luck. The cocktail menu has a broad range of options (and it’s a funny read too). I tried out the Japanese Manhattan (a dry Manhattan made with Japanese whiskey) which proved to be a good choice with the food. The clean crisp flavors of the Japanese whiskey (guessing a Hibiki 12) were enhanced by a splash of dry vermouth and just enough dilution to take the edge off. The end result was smooth and mellow which acted as a good counterpoint to the bold flavors in the food.
I was tempted to try out the wine list but had to restrain myself given the assault course I was racing through (aka Dirty Weekend Mucker) the next day. There are over 90 wines on offer and 28 are available by the glass or carafe as well as a further 8 on a rotating weekly special. Prices are reasonably with most being below £30 and the cheapest starting at £19/bottle and a few 175ml glasses being less than a fiver.
Worth the dosh?
I’m pretty happy with the value proposition at JFP. The five of us had starters, mains, and shared three desserts which came to around £30pp including two drinks. It makes for a great casual dining spot without too much stress on the bill and I’ll be back to sample some of the wines.
Find Jones Family Project here