I have previously been warned about having dinner in Kingston on a Wednesday night. You’re more likely to spend time watching (or avoiding) political representatives and their entourages of staffers and Walkley-aspiring journalists. They move and descend on the local restaurant scene in small packs that can suddenly, without warning, swamp small eateries and bars and leave locals reeling, wondering what just happened to their favourite quiet eatery or watering hole.
But it was on a Wednesday night that I was invited, along with some other food writers, to sample the Signature Menu and newly refurbished Jones & Co. which is located on the corner of Giles and Kennedy Street in Kingston. It has replaced the previously popular Me & Mrs Jones and is a much more slick and sophisticated establishment than its predecessor.
It’s not cheap, so apologies to readers who may be expecting one of my sub-$15 CBRfoodie reviews. The are three levels to the Signature Set menu: $59pp, $70pp and $95pp. I was dining compliments of the establishment but I felt every dish was would have been worth the price of the most expensive set menu. I wouldn’t be able to afford to eat here regularly, but it would be an ideal place to bring a loved one or close friend on a special occasion. The small private room we dined in could also easily seat a dozen people very comfortably if you were hosting a business or work event.
Our first menu item was the freshly shucked oysters with classic mignonette. A variety of oysters were served but the best in my humble opinion were the standard Clyde River sourced Sydney Rock Oyster variety.
Chef and co-owner Dan McConnell takes pride in serving simple and fresh raw ingredients as well as delightful slow-cooked creations. The presentation and taste of the oysters was excellent. Most importantly I learnt from Thomas, one of the many capable and articulate staff, that these little beauties were available for $1 each every weeknight between 5 & 6 pm. Let me repeat that – $1 oysters every weeknight! Guess where I’m spending my $15 daily pocket money on at least one evening per week from now on! For the more adventurous, there are also $12 sour cocktail specials to enjoy. A complete seafood and alcohol meal for under $20!
The seafood adventure continued with an amazing kingfish ceviche, garnished with coconut cream, nahm jim and fresh herbs. My only (not very reasonable) criticism was the small portion size because this dish left you hungry for more, especially after several foodies had worked together to clean the plates.
Following the delicious ceviche we enjoyed steak tartare. Now raw meat may not be to everyone’s liking but I grew up on my Mediterranean mother’s raw kebbe, a Lebanese dish made mostly of raw lean meat, spiced and ground to a fine texture. It was always served fresh and this dish reminded me of that childhood smell and taste. It was definitely a highlight of the menu.
The next dish we sampled was a burrata, which I learnt was a hand-made cheese similar to mozzarella and was served with heirloom tomatoes, house grown basil and garlic crostini. After everyone had consumed a small sample we all agreed it was delicious and the remainder was quickly devoured.
We also tried some delicious stuffed zucchini flowers and crispy confit duck, however I’m afraid my photographic skills with an iPhone don’t do either dish true justice. The next few dishes came in quick succession and included what I felt was the winner of the night – the slow braised lamb shoulder. I have been roasting lamb at home for many years and thought I had always done a fairly good job. In fact last week I was quite proud of the lamb leg I had served my family and only received compliments from my better half and kids however my experience at Jones & Co blew my mind. Perhaps it was the time taken to to cook or the red wine and pepper berry reduction, but there was something magical about this dish that I’m not sure can be replicated in a normal kitchen.
Served alongside the lamb was wagyu skirt and an amazing truffled mash.
Our dinner concluded with a delicious dessert platter. By the end of the experience there were a dozen sated foodies, all impressed by the service and standard of the food both in presentation and taste.
Canberra is really lucky to have such establishments that take pride in their purpose, which is to celebrate food and the joy of sharing it and enjoying it with other people.
Thank you to the owners and staff of Jones & Co. for the opportunity to sample your food. I will be back as a paying customer and may not have much choice in the matter once my dear wife reads this review!
Where: Jones & Co is on the corner of Giles and Kennedy Street Kingston. Ph: 02 6162 3355
Opening hours: 12pm-11.30pm Mon-Fri & 8am-11.30pm Sat & Sun
Social Media: Find them on Facebook and on Instagram.
CBRfoodie Recommends: $1 oysters 5-6pm ever weeknight!
CBRfoodie is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who joins RiotACT as a regular contributor this week. All opinions are his own. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.