People who Love to eat are Always the Best People
Riddle finds a corner full of flavour at the Jar Kitchen in the heart of London’s theatre district
Review by Martin Stickley
I don’t often get the chance to go on a man-date with my housemate; we’re both pretty busy outside of work so if it’s not a Sunday F1 session then we’re like passing ships in the night. To make amends for this I offered him the chance to join me at Jar Kitchen on Drury Lane for a catch up and some fine food and if this experience is anything to go by we’ll probably end up doing it a bit more often. The duo behind Jar Kitchen, Lucy Brown and Jenny Quintero, have just been joined by new head chef Paula Borreguero, formerly of 10 Greek Street, a restaurant which garnered rave reviews in the past so I was keen to see what she was going to bring to this little corner of London’s Theatre Land.
My housemate arrived looking like a drowned rat having just cycled across the city in the last of the May monsoons. I too was rather soggy having decided it was clever to walk up the length of Holborn with nothing but a tiny umbrella for protection. Despite our somewhat dishevelled appearance the staff were extremely welcoming, and swiftly got us seated at a table. The interior is snug and somewhat intimate, with subtle but rather funky soul and jazz playing in the background. If I wasn’t here with one of my best friends I would have said it was perfect for something more romantic.
I let my friend pick the wine, he fancies himself as a bit of a connoisseur so I left him to chat with the waitress about what was on offer. He was happy that the wine list at Jar Kitchen seemed pretty extensive featuring a great selection of wines from across Europe. The staff were also very adept at matching the dishes we were looking to try to a particular glass. Aside from the vino, there was a wide selection of craft beers along with a decent cocktail menu, so all-in-all they have all booze tastes covered.
We opened with the Rock Oysters, always a good indicator of a kitchen’s produce quality. Not everyone is into shellfish but these beauties were very fresh, tasting like they came straight from the ocean. Next up was Ndjua & Sweetcorn croquettes and Sweetbreads with mint and celeriac remoulade. The croquettes were a little savoury gem but the sweetbreads are definitely recommended. The creamy meat paired excellently with the fresh, nutty remoulade.
With both of us being tall guys blessed with a fast metabolism, we went for three mains, Duck breast with cauliflower & green tomato marmalade, braised ox-cheeks with risotto Milanese & crispy onions and Halibut with squid ink fritters. I don’t want to sound too picky, as all the dishes were good, but the duck was a just a tad dry and the ox cheek dish needed a little more richness from either the jus or the risotto, The halibut however, was exquisite. The flesh was fresh and firm with the squid-ink fritters salty and delightfully intense.
Despite managing all of the above, we couldn’t leave without getting to grips with the dessert menu. We opted for the Pine needle ice cream with rhubarb and oat-coated red rice balls with pear. The ice cream was a pleasant surprise. I expected the pine flavour to be cloying and too fragrant but instead it was bright, clean and complimented the sharp rhubarb excellently. The rice balls were also terrific, their flavour reminding me of warming, fragrant, almost chai-like spices.
After the feast I can honestly say we were not only satisfied, but also very impressed. Considering the price of the dishes (starters are £6-£9, mains £12-£17 and desserts all £6.50) the quality of the ingredients were excellent and there are some very clever, tasty and inventive flavours on offer.
Jar Kitchen are open for weekday lunches and pre-theatre dining Tuesday-Saturday 17:30-18:30. They were also voted Best Bottomless Brunch in Timeout so each Saturday between 10am and 2pm diners can enjoy 2-3 courses (£31.50 and £35 respectively) along with unlimited Prosecco, Bloody Marys or Mimosas. What more could you ask for?!
Enquiries: Jar Kitchen, 176 Drury Lane, London/ 020 7405 4255/ www.jarkitchen.com