Jones the Grocer
Jones has standards most other cafés can only dream of 15 Reviews
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It took us a long time to find Jones the Grocer, which is hidden away at the bottom of an apartment block on the wrong side of a huge sandy car park. It’s a tough spot to get to, but this made our unearthing of the gourmet food emporium seem all the sweeter when we finally burst through its doors into the air-conditioned room, sweaty and ravenous.
The large space holds a dining area, delicatessen, bakery, fromagerie and grocery. Hailing from Sydney, it has an Australian casualness (think outdoorsy wooden tables and T-shirted staff), and the crowd is a very inner-city mix of health-conscious yummy mummies and suited business folk.
The bowl of fries we ordered first (forgive us, but we were starving) set the tone for the rest of the meal. The ketchup was an organic affair, speckled with fresh herbs, while the fries themselves came crunchy, cooked in a light olive oil. They were served on rustic chopping boards instead of plates, and the table was set with a dish of cloves rather than just ordinary salt and pepper. Everything about the restaurant from the menu to the décor had been given a tickle with the rustic stick, so much so that Jones the Grocer almost seemed to be playing a game of one-upmanship with other cafés. And, given the dearth of competition for this kind of gastro dining spot, naturally, it’s doing an excellent job.
We placed our extended order and set off for a wander around the rest of the store. The walls are lined with shelves full of the sort of upmarket, luxury goods that make you wonder why you don’t cook more often. After all, with a few drops of Emiliana Orange Flavoured Balsamic Vinegar or Tartuflanghe Truffle Oil, surely anything is possible.
There’s also a seriously impressive fromagerie. Venturing in, we stood open-mouthed in admiration of the huge wheels of gooey camembert and crumbly slabs of gorgonzola. The smell alone was enough to keep us inside, and we eagerly pored over the chalk-scrawled blackboards suggesting all sorts of fantastical-sounding cheese-cracker-oil combos. In fact, we spent so long in there that we almost forgot about our main course, and returned to our seat to find our meal had already arrived.
We each started the meal with a salad; the pumpkin and feta, served with rocket and sundried tomato, was enjoyably sweet, while the duck and snow pea salad came in a heavy sauce, similar to coleslaw, with a powerful wasabi kick. Both were quite simple recipes, but were made with the premium ingredients we’d anticipated.
Next up was the fish of the day: sea bream, perfectly fried and very fresh, served with a glob of creamy baba ganoush. It came with yet more feta cheese (no complaints here) in a tomato salad. The lamb kebab our companion ordered was the only lapse in quality throughout the whole meal, as it was on the dry side and made of mince, which we hadn’t expected. All was forgiven, however, when our apple crumble pie arrived. Sugary, tart and spicy all at once, it came with a smooth vanilla ice cream and was the best part of a thoroughly satisfying meal.
There can’t be many people who wouldn’t find Jones the Grocer’s fare to their taste, especially given the warm and bustling atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, this venue has proved popular enough to warrant a number of new branches, which are set to open in Abu Dhabi in the next few months. Here’s hoping they do the eponymous Jones justice.
The bill (for two)
Pumpkin and feta salad Dhs36
Duck and snow pea salad Dhs36
Middle Eastern lamb kebabs Dhs46
Fish of the day Dhs56
Apple Crumble Dhs14
Total (excluding service) Dhs207
Time Out Abu Dhabi,
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