Stepping through the doors for the first time--into the onetime soda fountain, now brushed and polished and kitted out as a very comfortable and welcoming neighborhood bar, with white-washed tin ceilings and chandeliers--I told myself that no matter what Jonesy's calls itself or its food, a galley ought to be able to stand on its own and cook the hell out of anything on its menu. Good food is good food, period.
What Jonesy's was calling itself was a "gastropub" -- a term I passionately loathe. But even so, the guys in the kitche really do know how to cook the hell out of their menu. At least most of the time.
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This week's review of Jonesy's EatBar (formerly The Dish Bistro and still operated by Dish boss Leigh Jones) is a love/hate kind of thing. I really liked the restaurant, really hated the language being used to describe it. But I loved the massive bowls of french fries, the po'boys and the lamb, and had a good time every night I found myself under the care of Jones's staff. Still, I had to bite my tongue every time I was forced to use the word "gastropub" while writing about the joint.
"Gastropub" just rubs me the wrong way. Matter of fact, the whole business of hanging a label on one's restaurant, food, bar or cooking style bugs me, too. Whatever happened to just opening a restaurant? Isn't "restaurant" the word in the English language that means a building where people trade money for food and booze? No, now everything has to be a boite or a cafe or a gastropub. And no one actually serves food anymore. It's all nouvelle cuisine with hints of Italo-Mediterranean influences and a classical French gestalt, all fusion or Old World or New American.
I never worked in a boite in my life. Or a gastropub. Or a brasserie. I worked in restaurants whose owners had the decency and personal dignity to not go chasing desperately after some three-second, five-word pitch for describing the food they served and the atmosphere they were chasing. And thank god for that. Because if I was ever told that I would be working in a boite, my first response would've been to say, "Uh, not anymore." And then to go out and find work flipping eggs at some truckstop diner somewhere until my soul had been sufficiently purified.
But I digress. This week, it's all about gastropubs -- Jonesy's for the review, then some talk about the two new ones, Argyll and Colt & Gray, and then (to purify my soul) a quick visit to the 20th Street Cafe -- a place that no one has ever mistaken for anything other than a restaurant.