A Shoreditch restaurant and bar emphasising high-quality meat cooked in a charcoal oven.
Religious cults and steak restaurants are just two of the things that America does well, and it’s hard to know which to expect from something called The Jones Family Project. Rest assured: Kool-Aid is off the menu at this impeccably upholstered Shoreditch eatery. Instead you’ll find meat, plenty of it, sourced from upmarket butchers The Ginger Pig and cooked over charcoal in a similarly upmarket Josper grill. Juicy steak, attentive service and a luxurious dining room: this should be US-style dining at its finest, and it nearly is.
On our first visit when the Project had just opened, we weren’t that impressed (two stars, ’slightly dysfunctional’). Either we caught the Jones family on an off night or they’ve pulled their socks up. A starter of deep-fried squid (£7.50) came crisp outside and firm within: a delicious little heap. Then it was time for the meat: a 350-gram rib-eye steak (£27), as juicy and smoky as you’d expect given its star billing. This was one big chunk of beef, cooked superbly with no messing around.
Not everything is up to that level, especially dishes without meat. A dry and crumbly starter of risotto cakes (£6.50) and a large and eclectic but pretty unexciting salad (£13.50) didn’t get any juices flowing. The innovative ‘Potato Menu’ is well worth digging into, though: don't miss the Godminster cheddar croquettes (£3.50). Pudding was Eton mess semifreddo (£5), a good idea but only decently executed.
The most obvious thing about the Project's menu is that everything costs pretty dear. Premium meat commands premium prices, and you have to shell out between £1.50 and £3 for sauce or take your steak naked. With a total price of around £30, this is a fair whack out of the family budget. Fortunately, the drinks don’t require heavy spending: the wine list starts at around £20 a bottle, with many available by the glass and the half-bottle. Cocktails start at £8.
Save your visit to the Joneses’ for a special family occasion. The USA was built on aspiration, but £4.50 for a small plate of spinach might still be pushing it a little.