JAR KITCHEN, COVENT GARDEN

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Sometimes you just need something that does the job, minimal fuss, book on the day, around the corner, great value, decent food. Jar Kitchen ticked all the boxes. Quaint and charming, the attention to detail in the décor is reflected in the food they serve and at £18 for their three course pre-theatre menu, you really can’t quibble with that.

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There’s a touch of the Parisienne about this restaurant with its worn wooden furniture and delicate dried flowers. Maybe that’s what lends it charm in my eyes. Unassuming from the outside but once through the door the visible kitchen nestled at the back spills warm light that laps the walls. The menu at this little bistro is also pretty minimalist but that always bodes well. There’s some truth to the paradox of choice, I hate to think I’m missing out so having to pick from three starters, three mains and three desserts and picking two between you means that the risk of food envy is kept to a minimum.

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Having avidly scanned the room to sneak a peek at everyone else’s plates I then felt fairly confident when I plumped for chicken parfait, fig and onion jam with raisin toast, then the widely discussed ‘Mixed grain salad, roasted heirloom carrots, JK coconut yoghurt, pomegranate, almonds, herbs’ followed by a pudding to be decided at a later date if there was a corner of tummy still empty.

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The parfait was the kind of portion your arteries won’t thank you for but smooth as you like and with some nice fruity toast. I’m not sure why restaurants insist on serving up the most miserly portions of chutney though, there’s never ever enough, but it was tasty nonetheless. The ox cheek croquetas were also well received and more restrained a portion.

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The salad was super vibrant and just as delicious. I loved the slightly caramelised carrots, the contrast of the yogurt and the juice pop of pomegranate. I’d say without doubt it’s worth getting the lamb which was deliciously soft and shreddable. I’d say it was missing some more almonds. That’s less of a snipe (it was good nonetheless), but more just a shame since the mouthful I had with one tipped the balance of it all from good to great.

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It’s hard to know how to go about describing my pudding. In theory all the components were there, and decent tasting, but the sum of the whole was profoundly disappointing. You order a crumble and expect a hug in a bowl; soft fruit, squidgy and crunchy with sufficient ooze and ice cream to give your insides a big kiss. This crumble was none of the above. Big hunks of dry shortbread-like ‘crumble’ atop chunks of perfectly satisfactorily poached pear and apple may be inoffensive in isolation but under the pretext of crumble in it’s traditional, most delicious form, fall far short. Not even a very good buttermilk ice cream could redeem the situation. Sad really.

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Understated, calm and convenient would be my summation of Jar Kitchen. Nothing on the menu really pushes the boundaries but rather most dishes are reassuringly familiar and dependable. Whilst it might not set your world alight you can trust that Jar Kitchen will deliver a nice meal with a very reasonable price tag.

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