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Friday 15 November 2013

The Jones Family Project

Wednesday November 13th - I rarely write something up this quickly, but I felt compelled to after such a pleasant evening.  The Jones Family Project is officially opening on Monday 25th November when you are of course all otherwise engaged watching me perform with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra in the brand new Milton Court venue in the Barbican.  Therefore, you need to head on over to Great Eastern Street between now and then for the soft opening (with 50% off food) so that we can chat about it after my concert.

I was invited along to the opening party by co-founder Anna Watts after befriending her on Twitter. Anna has worked in the food and drink industry for a while, having set up the Rocket restaurant group with her husband Duncan and friend Amit Joshi back in 1999.  The three of them have teamed up again to open a friendly restaurant and bar set over two spacious floors near Old Street.  The name is an invention rather than a reference, alluding to the fact that working so closely day after day with the same people creates a close-knit family vibe.  The surname has no particular significance, it just seemed right to Anna & Duncan, the parental figures of the new Jones Family!

List Leader Natalie got the nod to be my +1 after reaching 100 points on the Leaderboard last week. We made straight for the bar and perused the cocktail menu that has a lot of fun with the family motif. The section titled "Uncle Albert does like his ale" is right up my street with Stout Daiquiri, Chivas Bitter and Beefeater Cider to choose from.

As well as a great cocktail list, there is an impressive back bar full of interesting spirits, two craft beers on tap (the wonderful Beavertown Gamma Ray APA and their own Jones Lager brewed for them by Meteor), and a special wine dispensing device.  James, head of the relatively new Cleveland Bay Vodka, was the first of several friendly guests to chat to us at the bar - I look forward to trying his product soon. Gins are out in force with Botanist, Gin Mare, Butler's and Bathtub all making an appearance.

The family theme runs through the décor too, with several attractive house structures hovering over tables, and Granny's Dining Room set up downstairs.

Granny's Dining Room will apparently be redecorated regularly, either to fit with something seasonal (e.g. a ski-lodge) or with a bespoke design requested by guests.

Granny's Dining Room
The Library
There's plenty to excite on the food menu, including Duck Egg Scramble, Ginger Pig steaks, Truffled Macaroni Cheese, and an array of tempting desserts.  Canapé versions of some of their dishes were brought round throughout the evening.  I was particularly taken with the baked Medjool dates stuffed with chorizo & wrapped in bacon, served with white bean, piquillo and tomato sauce.

Puddings are very affordable at £5 and you need look no further than Anna's Triple Chocolate Brownie served with vanilla bean ice cream and salted caramel sauce - incredible.  Natalie was understandably cross when I accidentally kicked one out of her hand.  Luckily, a member of the extended Jones Family was on hand with reserves.  I can also highly recommend the Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with crushed chocolate cookies, honeycomb, raspberry syrup and fresh raspberries.

We randomly got chatting to Heather and Emma Jane from Gertrude & Ivy (Digital Marketing & Event Management) whose office is round the corner from my flat.  Heather writes her own SW London food blog and coincidentally used to live in my building - small world.  Anna (owner and brownie creator) came over to chat to the Gertrude & Ivy girls and kindly took us on a little tour, starting with her favourite cosy tables behind the sliding doors (a clever device for closing off a section).

There is a mix of art around the place, including a collage of classic board game bits and pieces made by Anna herself.  The ladies' toilets have backwards writing on the wall which you can only read properly through the mirror, and the gents' will hopefully soon have moustaches on the mirror so that you can line yourself up for a Mo-vember selfie.

We had a quick look around the upstairs bar which is beautifully designed.  The indoor trees look wonderful and the lighting is superb. There is free Wifi available all day (from 8am-midnight Mon-Fri and 10am-10.30pm Sat-Sun), and one table in the corner is even set up as an office space for anyone that wants it, as long as they get a coffee at some point! The use of music stands around the place also adds to the homely feel.

Your new office

We left Anna to entertain her other guests and went back to befriending the rest of the Jones Family. The "family" tag isn't just a gimmick, the staff were working as one, and were all incredibly friendly and helpful.  Patrick behind the bar, Beth on the floor, Cristiano in the kitchen and several others made us feel very welcome, and it is that kind of service that makes you want to return!  I hope they have a successful first year.

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