Canberra, it’s time to get classy. Kingston’s Me & Mrs Jones has undergone a major makeover and reopened as Jones & Co – a more formal bar and restaurant – and we’re loving the trendy transformation. With a new sense of sophistication and style, this is one venue that’s dressed to impress.
Gone are the old pub favourites – the menu has levelled up to seriously swanky. We’re talking share plates of confit duck and sautéed cuttlefish, and main meals including brioche-crusted trevally and slow-braised lamb shoulder. There’s also a nori-coated salmon that we’re oh-fish-ally obsessed with, and a cider-braised crispy pork knuckle that we’re dying to pig out on. Jones & Co even features a raw bar, serving up oysters, sashimi and ceviche. It’s so fancy Iggy Azalea might write a song about it.
But don’t be intimidated. Jones & Co may have the polished looks of a New York bistro, but at its heart it’s still just as friendly as it ever was. Everyone is welcome – so get on down and give it a try. We promise once you’ve tried it once, you’ll be jonesing to go back!
We had a chat to Head Chef, Dan, to find out more.
Hi Dan, thanks for sitting down to talk to us. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up at Jones & Co?
I first met Soc Kochinos (co-owner of Jones & Co) when he gave me an unexpected tour of a construction site of his new venue, Canberra’s Cream Café & Bar in Civic. I was offered a position at the new café and worked in what was the most organised and professional kitchen I’d seen at that point in my apprenticeship. My time at Cream was a very valuable period in my career.
Whilst at Cream I managed to take a year off to travel Europe and see food culture like I’d never seen before. Upon returning to Canberra I was awarded the AHA Chefs Apprentice of the Year and secured a position working under Peter Gilmour at Quay Restaurant in Sydney. At this stage, Quay was the country’s number one restaurant. After a few years working for chefs such as Peter Gilmour and Neil Perry, I returned to Canberra and returned to working with Soc at his latest venue, Urban Pantry in Manuka.
It was from here that I was offered to be partner of what would become Me & Mrs Jones in Kingston, which was this year refurbished and rebranded as Jones & Co.
What’s different about Jones & Co and what inspired the team to revamp the space?
Although Me & Mrs Jones was a great business and a labour of love, after four years we decided that cafés weren’t what we were passionate about. We were drawn towards a restaurant, bistro setting. A sleek and sophisticated environment focused on quality over quantity.
You have some absolutely mouth-watering dishes on the menu, like pork belly bao, sticky lamb ribs, and brioche crusted trevally. Where do you find inspiration for your flavour combinations?
My inspiration is influenced by what personality we want the venue to have. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but instead, take classics that people love, and put my mark on them. Although, when I do create original dishes, I generally draw inspiration from a certain part of the world and modernise flavours and techniques to keep it relevant. I find nature a great source of inspiration as well.
You also have a raw bar menu with fresh fish and oysters. How do you select great-quality seafood?
We’re very lucky here in Australia to be surrounded by some of the world’s best seafood, and oysters are a great example. We’re spoilt for choice here with a variety of flavors between oyster region and species. I’m proud of the relationships we’ve built over the years with suppliers, and in particular with the oyster growers of the south coast – It’s important to support local farmers while cutting out the middle man. Being able to visit the farms and sample the produce first-hand is all part of the fun!
What’s your favourite food and drink pairing from the menu?
McAsh rock oysters with a smoky maple bloody Mary.
Slow braised lamb shoulder for two with a bottle of Cirillo Estate 1850 Ancestor Vine Grenache.
Strawberry and cream with a glass of De Bortoli ‘noble one’.
Those pairings sound phenomenal! The revamped space is fit-out with a beautiful marble bar, leather booths, and a brass-topped table. Who designed the space and how did you come up with the concept?
I think Soc really hit the nail on the head with the fit-out. It gives a vibe of New York City Bistro with a subtle 1920s Gatsby theme. The cocktail and raw bar adds a lot of fun and energy to the room. But don’t take my word for it; people will need to come in and see if for themselves.
Where else do you like to go for a fantastic meal in the Kingston area?
At home with my wonderful girlfriend, when I get the chance.