Keeping up with Jones The Grocer Dubai

Cafe in DubaiDubai;Wow, we have to queue…?!” FooDiva uttered in disbelief to friend as we walked into the new Jones The Grocer café in Dubai on Saturday, and were faced with a mini crowd waiting for a table. Clearly gone are the days when expats deserted Dubai come summer, well we have to work after all.

Cafe in DubaiBut the queue wasn’t orderly, I guess typical for this part of the world, and no one from Jones to direct us or put our names on a list. FooDiva’s not one for waiting patiently, so off we meandered to check out the groceries, whilst dipping and diving out of tables and punters as we circled the café. The modern open-plan all-glass design with sky high ceilings adds to the buzz and atmosphere. We spotted a free table and nabbed it; well no one told us otherwise.

Now incase you’re not in the know, Jones The Grocer is a Sydney-born Australian food emporium with a café, deli and grocery. I first tried Jones when it franchised into Abu Dhabi a few years ago (it now has three in the capital by the way), making those dreaded drives worthwhile. You’ll soon find out why.

Shepherds pieThe international menu (no evidence of Oz inspiration) has breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. Nice to see a café tailoring its menu content, even if some dishes overlap. Anyhow back to lunch; my shepherd’s pie with mince lamb and spiced lentils was encased in pastry. Not quite traditional but it worked all the same, spiced lentils included. A small mixed green leaf salad with balsamic dressing finished it off. My friend’s mushroom risotto whilst hearty, was swimming in too much olive oil. Served with garlic croutons as they were called; but huge, more like garlic bread.

Jones The Grocer's dessertsOthers love Jones for its coffee, but FooDiva adores the tea selection, especially the white silver needle leaves (which you can buy as well). The dessert menu was so tempting we just had to share an apple crumble topped with a single sugared lychee – should have been a tad hotter. And a truly teeny lemon meringue tartlet. The latter perfect for office celebrations or dinner party canapés.

It might have been the greenhouse effect of our table by the French windows, but it was heating up, as fellow lunchers also commented. The table service was sporadic, at times attentive, but also non-existent. For instance, our table was not set, so when our mains rocked up we were sans cutlery. Try getting the waiter’s attention in a heaving café.

Jones The Grocer's walk-in cheese roomJones’ pièce de résistance is its walk-in refrigerated cheese room. Yes you heard right, every cheesaholics dream. Something for FooDiva to aspire to rather than a walk-in wardrobe. Here you can choose cheese from not just France but Italy, Spain and the UK, including one of my fave sheep milk cheeses, the nutty and fruity Ossau-Iraty from the French Basque countryland. Cheese and charcuterie platters feature on the menu, sans the glass of vino though or pork.

Now I must admit to returning for a second visit, this time mid-week; crowd-less but still busy, the service was much slicker. Grilled chicken caesar salad with poached eggWarm tuna risoni saladThe caesar salad with poached egg and grilled chicken was too salty, even with a heavenly yoke to soak it all up. Other dishes worth trying from what I saw are the warm yellow fin tuna risoni pasta salad and the Wagyu beefburger topped with foie gras if you wish!

Jones The Grocer will naturally need some time to settle in. I doubt they expected to be so busy early into opening, and will need to adjust their manning (staff) on a weekend to cope with the crowds. Clearly some dishes work better than others, so I hope we’ll see a little menu re-engineering and fine tuning in the kitchen. I am glad Dubai has a good contender to the likes of More, Lime Tree and Shakespeare cafés.

I’ll be back to raid the cheese pantry. In the meantime, what do you think of Jones?

Cheese & charcuterie platterLunch for two including soft drinks, an affordable AED 183.

 

Jones The Grocer Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road (in between Al Manara and Al Thanya streets). On the same strip as Reem Al Bawadi and Crumbs. T; +971 4 3466886  E; almanara@jonesthegrocer.com Open daily 10am to 9pm.

A bientôt.

 

FooDiva. x

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    Al Manara, Cafes, Cheese, Delicatessen, Dubai, Food & Drink Features, Grocery, International, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

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16 Responses to “Keeping up with Jones The Grocer Dubai”

  1. elainegan July 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Yay to a review, was waiting to read about it before barging in with an empty stomach!
    Would love to try their pie, its such an Aussie thing… I might just wait it out til Sept to check them out 🙂

    • FooDiva July 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Hey Elaine. They have plenty of other pies on the menu wagyu beef included, and not just the Brit ones…:)

  2. Kat July 20, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Ossau-Iraty – oh thank you, thank you, thank you Foodiva – you have made my day!

    • FooDiva July 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Oh Kate you will think you have gone to heaven when you see that walk-in cheese room. Some yummy Shropshire Blue too!

  3. Keren July 20, 2011 at 9:13 am

    We called in last Saturday, but the service was shocking. The table service was so slow that I ended up having to wave my arms around to get any attention and my husband got up twice to find our waitress who disappeared for 10 minutes at a time. No one was interested in serving at the deli counter and it took five people, yes five, to get the cash register working and sort out our bill.

    The only staff member with any clue was the charming young woman at the cheese section (that room is heavenly!), but we won’t be returning for a couple of months, by which time we hope that might have sorted out their staffing issues. Such a shame as we had high hopes and it’s situated just five minutes from our home.

    Overall, disappointing.

    • FooDiva July 20, 2011 at 9:30 am

      Hi Keren. Sounds like your service experience was even worse than ours. Quite agree. In this town it’s always best to give new places some time to settle in.

  4. Sally - My Custard Pie July 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Hooray for the cheese room (and it’s 2 mins from my home). Shepherd’s pie with pastry? Is this an Australian thing? The lemon meringue tart looks like something Madonna would wear!

    • FooDiva July 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

      I know bit odd to have pastry encase shepherds pie, but I must admit it was delish! As for the lemon meringue am glad it wasn’t on Madonna…:)

  5. Dubai bites July 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Ossau Iraty is one of my favorite cheeses too! They also carry it at the MOE carrefour!

  6. DNCW August 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Oh my Gosh! A walk in cheese counter? that’s better (and more hygienic) than a farmer’s market. you must take me.

    • FooDiva August 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      Of course Davy, when are you visiting? 🙂

      • DNCW August 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm

        next year? and this time we absolutely must go to oman and stop being drawn into dubai’s wonders! Maybe a foodiva foodie experience in oman is on the cards?

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