Ask for Janice, Farringdon
‘Ask for Janice’ is a lyric from The Beastie Boys’ 1989 album ‘Paul’s Boutique’. Their record label, Capitol, initially considered it a commercial failure but the album endured, eventually reviewed in 1994 by NME as “an electrifying blast of cool”. Its namesake is tucked away in Farringdon, around the corner from Smithfield’s market, a long way from Beastie hood. Once inside, the vibe is the kind of hipster chic that has become ubiquitous. Squashy, Scandi sofas, exposed bulbs, enamel tiling, craft ales and a hidden downstairs bar; so far, so snore. Too many bars and restaurants have used this formula but ended up drowning in their own hype. Ask for Janice, however, has one thing that really helps it to stand out from the crowd, the food is creative and it’s good; much like the album, it turns out this place has legs.
Order the small plates and share. The beef croquettes with mustard, Clapton smoked salmon, lardo on toast and cod cheeks with sorrel mayonnaise are delicious, hearty and reasonably priced. Our favourite was the whipped goats curd with mashed pumpkin: mild, creamy and delicately seasoned with rosemary and thyme. The food is British at its best and it’s clear the chefs really take pride in creating interesting combinations with locally sourced ingredients. The staff are brilliant and also very knowledgeable about their range of London gins so take their advice and mix and match until you find your perfect G&T.
This is a perfect mid-week date spot. We went on a Tuesday evening and the atmosphere was lovely – buzzy enough to justify the gin, relaxed enough to chat properly, and the crowd was reassuringly mixed and unpretentious. Grab a table on the ground floor, order leisurely and try each other’s cocktails. Linger over fresh ripe cherries and espresso for pudding and walk back arm in arm underneath Smithfield’s imposing iron arches. If you’re in the mood dive into the Barbican Centre for a late night movie. This could also be an excellent joint for a breakfast date if you both work centrally. Their doors open at 7.30am for eggs with house cured treacle bacon, freshly baked finger buns, crumpets and coffee by Coleman Coffee Roaster’s – London’s finest.
I imagine it is packed with an after work crowd on Thursdays and Fridays, so go early in the week to really enjoy the atmosphere.
3. Ask for Janice is light and airy, it’s not a romantic candlelit spot but that’s not always a bad thing. You should take someone here who you actually want to talk to. You may be able to steal a kiss as you wander through Smithfield’s, it is a meat market after all…