This place at Dempsey Hill, and to a lesser extent next-door Culina, is expat central. For a minute I felt like we were on holiday in Sydney or something. We strolled around their produce aisles, and I must say they sell some very interesting stuff. Lobster oil, various jams and chutneys, and posh sea salt and Murray River pink salt. What really got to me, though, was their black truffle sea salt. They had little saucers for tasting, so I popped in a few flakes, and was first hit by a strong yet not overpowering burst of saltiness, then that faded and left behind the most incredible black truffle aroma which lingered on my tongue for a while. I’m thinking a few sprinkles of this could seriously jazz up a steak.
Anyway, we decided to have lunch here (we missed breakfast, which ends at 11.45 am), but it really was sheer pandemonium. They really need more staff, as well as a better seating, ordering and paying system. Right now you’re just supposed to plonk yourself at an available table, and wait (and wait) for them to give you the menus and then take your order. They will then give you a number, and at the end of your meal, you take your number to the one and only cashier, queuing with the rest of the people who are buying their groceries, to pay.
A and I both had sandwiches – he had the smoked salmon, and I had a shaved ham and cheese. Mine was better than expected, mostly because the cheese was really good. The bread was a little too chewy though; could’ve been toasted a little. A’s smoked salmon was surprisingly quite bland – the salmon was barely smoked and was almost sashimi-like. Luckily they had a dish of their pink salt on the table, so a few sprinkles of it lifted the flavour of the sandwich somewhat.
Good flat whites here, and service, when you can eventually get their attention, is pleasant. But the whole frenzied feel just runs contrary to a lazy Sunday brunch, in my opinion. And their cashier could learn a thing or two about the concept of credit card promotions. Next time I’m going to try Culina next door. There are fewer tables so it’s harder to get a seat, but it looks a lot calmer and more peaceful, which is frankly what I’m looking for.
By the way, we met B and CH at Jones, so B, hurry up and let us know what you ordered, and what you think of it.
Food is decent. Sandwiches are definitely worth it considering the size of them.
I actually like the tuck shop feel to the place but was cheesed off by not understanding how they do things at first – like how you’re expected to just find a seat yourself and then flag the wait staff to get a menu. It’s an interesting way to differentiate the dining experience and I think it would work really well with a regular clientele.
But right now, I think they are definitely understaffed and it all seems a bit hectic. I wonder what a quieter time to go would be.
Jones the Grocer
Block 9, #01-12
Opening hours: Tues-Sun: 9.30am to 11pm; Mon: 9.30am to 6pm