DINNER & DECOR: ASK FOR JANICE
A few great things happened at Ask For Janice. Firstly, I tried and LOVED my first Gin & Tonic. Secondly, I had a well overdue meat feast, after being what I like to call 'predominantly pescaterian' since January. Thirdly, I had the best bloody Mary I've ever tasted. Yep. Even better than my own! Here's my Dinner & Decor: Ask For Janice review.
Ok, I know you're thinking 'wowzers Saz, let's just get to the pics already', but hold up my friends. I had been invited down to review one of the new restaurants in Farringdon, arty-cool Ask For Janice, named after the Beastie Boys' skit of the same name. Ok, I have to admit, I did turn up thinking the Janice might be the manager or something... I was never a massive Beastie Boys fan!
The exterior looked like an arty pop up cafe you might find along the streets of Shoreditch. The space is really industrial, with exposed bulbs and piping, graphic artwork adorning the walls, a retro sofa and a big neon sign which hovers above it, dominating the space.
Exposed brickwork sits alongside stark white subway tiles with dark grout. Tables are a mish mash of old school desks, rickety stools and an old filing cabinet turned menu holder. The bottles at the bar are exposed, as is the entrance to the kitchen. With a light, airy, cool cafe chic vibe, AFJ reminded Jason and I of European cafe's like those found in Berlin or Copenhagen.
We were shown to our table by the super friendly waitress and left to peruse the gin & tonic menu. I have to say I'm not a gin fan. It just reminds me of stealing alcohol from my parents cupboard and then getting so drunk I was ill! Not the best memory. So I was a bit unsure about trying a gin cocktail, but I'm trying to be more adventurous and as the guys at AFJ were treating me to dinner I thought, why the hell not?!
I went for the Bloom Gin, a sweet variety, and Jason went for the Whitely Neil London Dry. We didn't really choose, we sort of just told our waitress what we did and didn't like and were happy to take her suggestions. Guess what... it turns out I like this type of gin! Super refreshing and just the right amount of sweetness vs bitterness.
Then we got down to business and checked out the menu.
Refreshingly simple, in minimalistic style it lists 'things' and 'bigger things'. Again, asking our waitress for recommendations, we went for the grilled flat peaches, parma ham and berkswell cheese, accompanied by the cod cheeks, brasied fennel and lemon.
Now, bear in mind that I had not eaten parma ham for a while. Then this turned up. I was EXCITED.
I simply cannot describe quite how gorgeous the parma ham was rolled up alongside a grilled flat peach, which are quite delicious on their own anyway. The grilling seems to bring out the sweetness of the peach, and alongside the salty parma ham and chalky yet melting cheddar, this was just gorgeous. I'm actually salivating thinking about it (and I just finished dinner).
The cod cheeks were a citrus and herby opposition to the sweetness of the parma ham dish and was also tasty, though the former was definitely our favourite. I think I'd visit this place again and again just for that dish. Ok I'll shut up now.
After knocking back my G&T I felt a little tipsy in the best way possible, and we started to debate over our mains. I decided on the chicken but sadly it wasn't available (probably the only downside of the evening), but again our lovely waitress recommended the lamb chop. I do love a good bit of lamb and I was happy to be guided as all I could think about was my long lost chicken! Jason debated over whether to get the T bone steak or the lamb. In the end he went with the T bone, despite my warnings on size. 'Of course I can manage it, please!' I think I remember him saying. Just remember that statement people.
In the meantime I ordered a Bloody Mary. Just because they are the best drink ever and I like to try them everywhere I go. I may compile a whole ebook of Bloody Mary's I've tested with reviews.
The celery had been replaced with cucumber, which let me tell you works a treat! I even managed to get Jason to try it (perhaps the fact that he's a lightweight and had already knocked back a pretty strong G&T may have helped to ease the test as he's normally revolted), and he actually liked it! This is seriously saying something. I have to say hands down this is the best one I've tasted. No lie. Ask For Janice have now set the bar in my Bloody Mary olympics. DING DING!
Ooh! Food's here!
The lamb chop was sat on a bed of pea, mint and chopped bacon, with almost a citrusy, tomatoey sauce. The lamb was beautifully pink inside and such a great portion too. When I ate my first bite I could have fainted... the meat was so deliciously tender and cooked to perfection. This was almost so good I began to start thinking about scrapping the 'predominantly pescetarian' idea forever.
Every mouthful was a joy and even as I felt my belly rapidly filling I kept going. I was so pleased with my waitress' recommendation and my lost chicken became a distant memory.
Jason's T bone steak was HUGE. Again, I don't know whether this was a little bit of alcohol talking but every few seconds he would look up at me and say 'the fries babe, they're so good'.
'The onion rings babe, SOOOO GOOOD.'
It's safe to say he enjoyed it. Remember what he said before? Yeah, I could see him struggling to finish it. Of course he didn't want to back down so kept on stuffing.
As we finished up our mains I had to sneak off to the ladies, or in this case the ladies and gents (communal loos). Ok, in honesty I'm never a huge fans of communal loos but I can deal with it! On the way down I took in some of the pop art.
And then got the the bathroom shots and the obligatory bathroom mirror selfie.
See the sign? Secret Bar?! But where was it?
I convinced myself it was behind the mirror and that the mirror was in actual fact made of two way glass. Which is why my selfie is a little nonchalant. I was trying to look cool to all of the people behind the two way glass, obviously!
After putting my ear to the glass to listen for music (yes I actually did that) I deduced it wasn't actually behind the mirror and set about finding it.
I loved the little hidden bar and although it wasn't in use when I found it I think it'd be great for a birthday party! After fully scouting it out I headed back upstairs and found this on the table. Possibly the cutest dessert menu!
I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but we couldn't fit in dessert! I know, blasphemy. But we just coudn't do it. On the positive, it gives us yet another reason to back right?! Instead I opted for a single espresso to lead me into the night.
As the sun went down we sat and chatted for another few minutes and then drove across town, taking in the lights of the city we all know and love.
Thanks to Ask For Janice for the complimentary meal, we will definitely be back to enjoy those peaches and parma ham all over again! I had a lovely evening having some quality time with my boo and the beautiful food and drinks topped it all off.
Have you visited Ask For Janice? Would you go and check it out now you've seen my pics?