The sad reality is, I’ve always been a girl with an appetite. I enjoy chips with my burgers, tempura with my sushi, ice cream with my desserts. My gluttonous love for food in any shape or form knows no bounds, but what I do make sure is that if I splurge on a particularly decadent meal, I pay for it at the gym for the next week.
Looking at a gym while I’m eating however, isn’t on my list of things I like to do. It was with calculated precision that I seated myself with my back to the windows facing the gym on my return to Westfield’s Jones the Grocer with The Sister one Friday evening after work.
I’ve previously reviewed Jones the Grocer about mid last year where the waiter highly recommended the wagyu burger: possibly the closest thing to an American cheeseburger you would ever taste with melting wagyu mince patty, truffle mayonnaise, gruyere and a just-so-soft perfect brioche bun. I had received an invitation to review their dinner menu this time, and I was interested in seeing what their menu had to offer for the evening crowd.
For starters, I selected the Barbequed free-range quail with spinach and apple salad and bois boudran sauce ($21).
A French sauce made traditionally from tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, balsamic, lemon, shallots and a multitude of other things, it had a nice subtle lingering heat to it that added to the gaminess of the tender quail. The skin had been rendered to a crisp crunch, matching the texture of the julienned apple.
I was similarly a fan of the Salt and pepper squid, yuzu mayonnaise, Thai herb salad dressed with tamarind, chilli and lime sauce ($18), but it was interesting to note that despite the salad being openly marketed as “Thai”, that the batter for the salt and pepper squid was in fact liberally seasoned with Chinese five spice.
Despite this little discovery, the squid was deliciously soft and tender. The batter wasn’t as crisp as it could have been, but had it been any crisper, I think the squid would have been a touch over-cooked. It was a near-perfect consistency and the lightly dressed Thai-inspired salad cut through any residual oiliness from the batter.
The dish I chose for my main was probably more suited to a winter menu, but my eye kept wandering back to the Slow-cooked beef short rib with roast eye fillet, mushrooms and red wine sauce ($35).
The size difference between the short rib and the eye fillet was phenomenal. The eye fillet was a spot-on medium rare, and I enjoyed how there were a variety of mushrooms mixed into the dish, with differing textures. I soaked up most of the flavoursome red wine sauce with the eye fillet and probably didn’t leave enough for the huge short rib which I tackled after the eye fillet. The short rib, while braised ’til the meat mostly fell off the bone, lacked sufficient flavour for me to completely demolish the whole thing.
The Sister has a weakness for duck, and so had selected the Duck leg confit with French lentils, apple and spinach salad with grape seed dressing ($36).
Every dish so far had been plated beautifully, and the duck confit was no exception. The Sister ate more than enough duck confit with pomme frites when she was in France for me to trust her opinion, and she declared it very good. However it didn’t quite have the richness of most duck confits she has previously had, so you could almost call it a “healthier” confit. I don’t usually eat lentils other than the one or two times I’ve had dhal, but I found these French lentils extremely tasty and a healthier alternative to the heavily starchy carbohydrates that normally accompany French-style dishes.
Dessert wasn’t a very hard decision as I’ve had a recent weakness for anything coconut. Coconut water in my morning smoothies, coconut juice slushies with pieces of coconut, and coconut lotion. The Young coconut rice pudding with mango and almond crunch ($12) was no exception.
It was warming, comforting and the scatter of freshly toasted almonds on top gave the dish a satisfying crunch. I’m not exactly sure why, but I had half-expected this rice pudding to come out as a cold dessert. While I enjoyed the dessert as it was, it was probably more suited to a winter-style menu, or to have it served cold (and it would be just as delicious) on a summer menu.
A very summery dessert was the Citrus panna cotta with strawberries, basil and candied almonds ($12).
The panna cotta was a beautifully light consistency that didn’t make you feel like you were eating what translates literally to “cooked cream” (although knowing this has never once stopped me in the past!). The syrup that the strawberries were in had a lovely light rosewater-honey flavour almost like a perfume. The addition of micro-basil and crunchy candied almonds perfectly rounded off the dish.
It’s so good to see a restaurant in the middle of a shopping mall serving food of such a high calibre, however the menu should possibly reflect seasonal changes a little more. The selection of cheeses and antipasto in the deli section is very extensive and I have on more than one occasion made a few purchases for special events. I still have very fond memories of their signature burger, and have no doubt I’ll visit again one lunchtime when the craving hits…
Jones the Grocer
Level 5 Westfield Sydney
Cnr Castlereagh & Market Streets
Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 8072 7755