A few weeks ago Laura (thoughts in Italics)Â and I were kindly invited to dine atÂ Jones Wood Foundry, a “food driven pub” (love that) tucked away off of First Avenue on the Upper East Side. Besides fish and chips,Â Shepherd’sÂ pie, bangers and mash, and beer, I wasn’t exactly sure what else constituted British cuisine, so I was curious to try the restaurant. Â Caryn and I spent last year in London, but we didn’t eat traditional cuisine – if anything, just a lot of Indian, so I too, was curious.
The decor is delightfully quaint and modern at the same time, complete with a long wooden bar, an outdoor garden area, and a communal table for diners to meet and eat (there are regular, private tables in the back room too). Even on a Tuesday night the place was hopping (particularly the bar), a nod to its success in the neighborhood, even if it is further east than some of the better known UES establishments. Clearly a lot of people think it’s worth the trip, and we agree! The menu is diverse, ranging from a Scottish salmon burger to a variety of savory pies to lamb stew (they have the traditional British grub too), and since the food is locally sourced the options do rotate a bit day to day. Â One interesting thing we learned too was since the pub is near a school, they aren’t allowed to serve liquor – just wine and beer. Â Totally fine with me though as they had a great selection of brews available – especially Belgian beers. I recommend a Palm!
To start, we chose the Potted Crab from the Toast menu, a separate mini menu of essentially dips/toppings for four pieces of toast. We were torn between the highly recommended Scotch Egg, a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage with tartar sauce, and the Potted Crab. But since we were sampling a few items that night we decided to go for the lighter route and the Potted Crab was delightfully refreshing. Unlike typical crab salad made with mayo, this was mixed with citrus juice so it could be compared to ceviche, but I thought it was much better. I could have eaten a larger portion of it with a fork and been happy for the night, but alas we pressed on.
The second dish we tried was the Short Rib Cottage Pie, a pie mimicking Shepherd’s Pie, but instead of ground lamb there were short ribs and in place of mashed potatoes there were scalloped potatoes. I thought this was going to be the star of the night, but actually it was my least favorite. It wasn’t bad, but it was a little heavy and I thought it lacked some flavor which surprised me because I expected the short ribs to boost up the flavor. Â However, the potatoes were delectable – smooth, buttery, cheesy and perfectly crispy on top (and this coming from a girl who doesn’t usually like scalloped potatoes). Â I liked the dish, but the crab and fish had such a great citrus flavor that if I had to choose again, I would go with a lighter option. Â This dish was pretty heavy, so if you want to try it, I recommend pairing it with a lighter dish and splitting with a friend. Â My waistline was glad that Caryn and I chose to do this.
For a fish dish we were torn between the grouper and trout, but thankfully we learned the grouper had sold out making our decision for us. This trout, served on a bed of lentils in a sauce that I cannot describe, was perfection. I had never tried trout before and didn’t know what to expect, but it didn’t overwhelm in a “fishy” flavor. Â Instead it absorbed the other flavors of the dish while keeping a pretty firm texture and the lentils complemented it wonderfully. Â Hands down this was the best fish dish I have ever had at a restaurant. I crave it now and can’t wait to get it again (my love of lentils only made it better).
We were stuffed but we heard such great things about the desserts that we had to try just one. Ultimately we went with the sticky toffee pudding. My God. I don’t care if you think you’re so full that you can’t cram another bite in you. You can and you will if you order this. Luckily it was on the smaller end and it was served with a scoop of ice cream which always pairs well with a warm dessert. It was sort of a hybrid of two of my favorite desserts: it had the caramel-sugar sauce and flavor of the sugar topping on a creme brulee, but instead of custard the “dough” reminded me of monkey bread. It was phenomenal and is a must-order if you go. Â For you Royal Wedding watchers – we learned that this is Kate Middleton’s favorite dish.
Yes, Jones Wood Foundry is more expensive than most of the places we review (most entrees in the mid-20s) a nd as such we are designating this as a “specialÂ occasion” or “parents night out” (when they foot the bill) kind of place, but hey, we all need a few places to splurge on. I really loved my dinner and would go back again in a heartbeat…provided I had a special occasion to celebrate!The Basics Name: Jones Wood Foundry Location: 401 e. 76th Street (between 1st and York) Who to bring: Parents, a date, your friends for a special night Price: Not gonna lie, it’s pricier than what we’re used to – $$$-$$$$. Â Most entrees in the $20s. Overall: A new favorite of mine! 4.5 Stars (-0.5 stars only for the price since we are a cheap blog site)