Jonesin’ for Jones?

Location: 700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Price per meal: $7.99 – $23

Other Locations: None (Part of Starr Restaurants)

Situated right on the edge of the historic Independence Hall district, Jones is poised to attract plenty of touristy stragglers who walked up an appetite leering busily at the Liberty Bell or attempting to peer in the windows of the place where the Continental Congresses commenced constructing the Constitution. Based on it’s pedigree as a Stephen Starr restaurant, it draws out-of-towners and inner-city hipsters alike (I assume, as both were evident Sunday night, along with a healthy helping of young urban professionals). The main draw is the menu of comfort foods, such as baked mac’n’cheese, chicken’n’waffles, meatloaf’n’mashed potatoes, steak’n’fries…notice a pattern here? Also, you can have give thanks even in July with the Thanksgiving Dinner.

Also available are soups, sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of champagne drinks, mixed liquors, and beer both micro- and macro-brew. Desserts seem plentiful from the menu, but just expensive enough to not try after a good-sized meal. There are even vegetarian options, such as the soy burger.

Speaking of burgers, on my first trip to Jones I decided to try the ol’ standby of a beef burger with fries (&10.50), while my dining partner went with the Soy offering. Garnishings include: lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, and carmelized onions, which is a nice departure from the norm. Both burgers were served quickly, even though the place was packed, so the staff seems to be on the ball.

dsc01397.JPGMy burger (pictured above) was prepared medium-rare (I asked for medium-well but apparently that doesn’t exist?!), covered in a thick slice of white Cheddar cheese, and served on a grill-toasted bun (a big plus if tastes is what you’re after…probably not if you’re watching your caloric intake). The hand-cut fries were on the soft side of crispy, but tasty nonetheless. I imagine they were cooked in peanut oil. I also imagine that I could discern the type of oil used by taste. The soy burger was served much the same way, cheese and all, though it wasn’t red on the inside (would have added a smidgen of authenticity, or at least freaked the hell out of a passing vegan).

Both burgers tasted well, nothing too special, except for the buns; I thought that grilling them added a nice smoky flavor to the whole deal, but solidly delicious. I’d have to rank the beef burger over Ruby Tuesday’s in terms of flavor, though RT’s patty might be just a tad bigger. One knock for me was the consistency of the bread used: the rolls seem to be a bit airy (almost croissanty in texture); what can I say, I like big buns and I cannot lie.

dsc01396.JPGI decided to have a Yards Pale Ale with my meal (a departure from my old standby Yuengling Lager), and the lighter taste blended well with the heavier meat and cheese flavor. A surprise was the choice of bottled water or good ol’ Schuylkill Punch, so we all know which I chose as a born-and-bred Phillyite.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable, the drinks chilled, and the burgers well prepared and tasty. I look forward to going back one day to check out some of the comfort food offerings…I know a few diners that could probably teach Jones a thing or two about that!

Some of the prices could stand to be a bit more recession-friendly for the offerings, but the high quality ingredients seem to justify the price.  The burgers ran about $10, champagne cocktail $8, beer $6.

3.5 out of 5 Shef’s Spatulas

4 Responses to “Jonesin’ for Jones?”

  1. ShefJen Says:

    Hi Shef Steve, Kev & I went to Jones on June 6th for the first time and I must say I found this Steven Starr a little lackluster. We ordered Crab Cake and their Pasta special for that day. The crab cake was just that – A crab cake. Just one burger sized crab cake with a hand full of fries on the side. Don’t get me wrong the crab cake was good (with their special dipping sauce) but A. There was no bun to make this meal seem heartier for the $22 your dropping on it and B. Let’s be honest – it’s pretty hard to mess up a crab cake. The Basil, Shrimp Pasta Special was bland. The basil they used mustn’t have been fresh because it barely had any flavor. All I could taste was the oil. What’s worse is that the tiny shrimp littering my bowl were not perfectly peeled. Every other shrimp you got a crunchy surprise – I understand small shrimp are hard to peel but don’t offer it if you can’t do it accurately – especially for the price I was paying for it. We also ordered the $7.00 appetizer of Mac n’ Cheese. I was good, but not worth the money – It was cereal bowl sized and done in just 8 bites.

    One pet peeve of mine, which Jones struck, is having too many servers. Yes – too many. You’re greeted by someone who claims to be your server and they take your order, but then someone else brings out your drinks, then someone else brings out your food, and then the original “server” comes out and asks, “How is everything?” Yes the service great and fast, but it better be if I have four people waiting on me. And who am I tipping at the end of all this?!?

    So basically we could have a heartier just as tasty experience for way less elsewhere without the Steven Starr name attached. It’s pretty bad when you play with the idea of going for appetizers and drinks to Eulogy after your meal.

  2. Jim Says:

    Yeah resurrected Shef Steve! Also, totally supported the economies of using “n” as a replacement for “and” or the thinly-veiled extravagance of the ampersand.

  3. Kevin Says:

    Well done. Jen and I recently went there. I’d put our experience at about a 3/5. I had the crab cake and was disappointed that it is singular for a reason – just one crab cake. It was good but I was only filled because of the abundance of french fries on my plate (which I would rate as slightly above average). Jen had some type of pasta that was a special that night and the sauce tasted similar to a cheap red sauce you’d find at a grocery store for a low price. Their mac and cheese was fantastic but a tad pricey for the amount given to you. Probably won’t go back unless someone is paying for me.

    Keep those reviews comin’.

  4. Shef Steve Says:

    Thanks for the comments, guys! I hope to have more reviews up over the next few weeks, can’t promise it’ll be regular yet!

    @Jim: You have to save something when talking about Jones. The prices won’t agree to be parsed, so ya have to go with the conjunctions describing what you get for those prices!

    @Kevin: I’ve learned my lesson about ordering crab cakes from anyplace that isn’t a greasy spoon seafood place. The Philadelphia Fish Company has a ‘crabcake’ that was more like a ‘silver-dollar crabcake on two watercress leaves” for $18.

    @ShefJen: That shrimp issue sounds unfortunate. I know what not to order next I go (I still want to try the Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, since 2 out of 2 black people tell me it’s good there ;)). And I say let the waitstaff duke it out for the tip, Thunderdome-style. For Sparta!

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