A Shoreditch restaurant and bar emphasising high-quality meat cooked in a charcoal oven.
There were two big draws to this new bar and restaurant in Trendsville Great Eastern Street: the impressive wine list, and the Ginger Pig beef and pork on the menu. The promise alone of meat from the esteemed Yorkshire butcher – who supplies some of the best kitchens in the capital (including the Hawksmoor restaurants) – was enough to lure us out on a cold, wet evening. The smallish ground-floor bar gives way to a cavernous downstairs restaurant (mostly empty, on our visit). It was in this basement that staff did their best to drum up the semblance of atmosphere, despite having to contend with an ’80s R&B soundtrack that practically shouted, 'Ladies, shimmy round those handbags!'
The menu’s a bit Mediterranean, a bit Mexican, a bit American, a bit Asian – a bit mixed up generally. Our starter of scrambled duck eggs with (too much) truffle oil and lots of undercooked onion was more suited to breakfast. We had high hopes for the Jones Double Burger, which our waitress assured me was made with Ginger Pig beef. A request for medium-rare was rebuffed: our burgers are cooked well-done, she said. Why? ‘Because they’re made with oxtail, so they need long cooking.’ Hmm. A new one on us, but how bad could it be? Quite bad. The twin thin patties perched on their brioche bun were scorched and as dry as the Mojave Desert, crying out for a dousing of ketchup.
Dessert of olive oil chocolate mousse with honeycomb, crushed chocolate cookies, raspberry syrup and fresh raspberries turned up without the advertised raspberries (little surprise, it being mid-winter – nil points for seasonality). It was a muddle of cold, claggy, grainy-textured mousse and soggy biscuits, topped with a cloyingly sweet raspberry sauce.
The meal’s saving grace was the massive and unmessed-about-with pork chop. This was served with cabbage and apple sauce, and cooked simply and perfectly, with a nice bit of char from the charcoal-fired Josper oven. The wine list is also good – a concise collection of mostly European wines from good producers, with a nice selection by the glass and 50cl carafe. Jones describes itself as a ‘family project’; in which case, it could be depicted as slightly dysfunctional.