The Jones Family Project, Shoreditch
Call me a lazy dater, but nothing makes me smugger than finding a café-cum-restaurant in which I can go from remote desk to bar stool in one easy manoeuvre. At The Jones Family Project, I can do just that; by day, the ground floor is a freelance-friendly café, complete with a dedicated nook housing a desk and a printer (the stuff of self-employed dreams). By night, the shelves behind the bar swivel, hiding tea and coffee particulars in favour of cocktail-ware (said swivel was deftly demonstrated by the maître-d, one of a charming and enthusiastic team). This is one of many considered décor details, from industrial-style structures separating intimate booths from private dining rooms, to leafy plants growing out of tub chair-surrounded tables. Exposed brick tells you you’re in Shoreditch, but the crowd is more discerning than the City ladz that typically frequent that stretch of Great Eastern Street – on the night we visit, Pixie Geldof is dining at the table along.
Start by swigging a couple of cocktails at the ground floor bar (a lavender mojito was the perfect tonic for a hectic Thursday), before moving downstairs for serious feasting. The crispy squid comes liberally served, so have it to share and proceed to evangelise about its perfect spicy/tart ratio. With meat sourced from the famed Ginger Pig butchers and cooked in the restaurant’s Josper charcoal oven, this is the perfect place to bring a carnivorous lover – the fillet steak in red wine sauce is practically orgasmic, though IRL orgasms may have to wait until you’ve recovered from the food coma such a statuesque slab of meat is wont to cause. A shout out for the oft ignored seasonal greens – Jones’s iteration is spicy and sesame-coated, and those bad boys are DIVINE.
If you have a propensity for Sunday dread, you’ll know there’s only one remedy: a ruddy delicious roast. Luckily, if you can drag your hungover, Monday-dreading self over to Great Eastern Street, you’ll find the perfect epicurean cure. It involves melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone meat – supplied by the illustrious Ginger Pig – and all the trimmings, including Yorkshire puds so gargantuan, one wonders how they fit inside EC2. I opted for the chicken (a whole poussin at that) and a fishbowl-sized glass of Malbec, and the anticipatory Monday dread just melted away. What’s more, they didn’t balk when I asked for an extra jug of gravy before dousing my food in the stuff. Next time I make Sunday dinner I really will be trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Leave veggie Vernon at home. This one’s for meat lovers and meat lovers alone, although the chic but cool interiors will satisfy both Silicon roundabout snobs and the more discerning of City types (as long as they don’t have beef with beef). Request a booth for some anticipatory footsie.
Cheap and cheerful this ain’t, but the massive, mouth-watering portions and superb quality meat are happy justifications.
3. Inevitable meat sweats may hamper sexy time (unless, erm, you’re into that kind of thing), but if the way to their heart is through their stomach, a next date is guaranteed.