I'm used to seeing restaurants like Jar Kitchen in Dalston and lesser-known-streets of North London - not a stone's throw away from my office in Covent Garden. No, Covent Garden is reserved for chains, popular pop-ups, and Michelin-starred celebrity haunts - not small, unassuming, new restaurants serving delicious, beautifully done, British cuisine at a reasonable price. When I think of the Covent Garden food scene, I think of conformity (yes, even those new restaurants that seem to be every Instagrammer's dream these days), but I think Jar Kitchen stands out from the crowd.
The funny thing is, I've watched this restaurant be built from the ground up; from when the original business was torn down (I can't remember what occupied it before, despite walking down Drury Lane nearly every day, it was that miss-able) to when they painted the interiors a dark grey and hammered in the wood countertops.
Being the skeptic I was, I walked past the new establishment without giving it a second glance, until my friend Erin suggested that we meet there for dinner.
It's a small restaurant: the upstairs section probably seats five or six tables at a push, and I think there might be seating downstairs as well. At the same time, it's cozy and intimate - a great place to catch up and chat about all the things you've missed since you've last seen each other.
Service is friendly but not overbearingly so ... and the big plus for me? There's a pre-theatre menu of 2 courses for £15 or 3 courses for £18. In Central London, and at restaurants of this caliber, that's almost unheard of, so we took advantage of this (since we were eating early!) and ordered two courses, plus a couple of sides as well (their triple-cooked fries are oh-my-goodness delicious: perfectly crunchy).
If you haven't guessed already, the big theme here is ... jars. Of every shape and size. The restaurant has manged to repurpose jars into cups, candle holders, lights, vases ... so if you have a jar phobia, maybe best to avoid.
But if you love good food, well then, step right up. Erin and I both ordered the Walter Rose pork belly, served atop a bed of peas, lentils, turnips, scratching and a hazelnut crumble. The pork belly was tender and succulent, and the peas and lentils were delicious. The pork scratchings and hazelnut crumble gave the dish a good crunch; a bit of excitement on an otherwise often overdone (no pun intended!) menu option.
Speaking of the menu, it's small, but excellently curated. It's a restaurant that clearly knows what it does well, and sticks to it - I admire that.
When it came to choosing our desserts, I immediately went for the chocolate ganache with banana ice cream (I think I just saw "banana ice cream" and my eyes turned to hearts, just like the emoji) and Erin let me try some of her warm cinnamon and sugar dusted donuts, which were divine.
A few days later, John and I were on our way to the Royal Opera House (see previous post!) and, upon trying to decide where to have a quick dinner, dropped into Jar Kitchen for the second (me) and first (John) time.
I'm so unoriginal, I went for the pork belly again (which was even better the second time around), but finished with the cinnamon donuts instead. John really enjoyed his first course of chicken liver parfait, fig and onion jam and toasted raisin bread, but saved most of his praise for his main of mixed grain salad with roasted heirloom carrots, JK yoghurt, molasses, orange and herbs (which I'll admit I dipped my fork into too).
As the seasons change, I look forward to seeing what Jar Kitchen comes up with next on their inventive, unique menu. And if you're in the neighborhood, I suggest you give it a try.