REVIEW: A Top New York Gastropub Turns Seven

Swordfish skewer (Image: Jones Wood Foundry)

Psychologists have a name for the point in a romantic relationship when happiness wanes, giving way to complacency. They call it the “seven-year itch,” a term that became a household term thanks to a play, later made into a hit film, by George Axelrod.

Restaurants, too, experience a seven-year itch, or at least the ones successful enough to survive an engagement of that length in this brutally competitive industry. Such is the case with British gastropub Jones Wood Foundry, which just celebrated its seventh anniversary. In observance of this milestone the restaurant has augmented its regular offerings with a seasonally changing menu that sources many of its ingredients from Local Bushel, a purveyor of farm-to-table ingredients.

October’s starters feature something given as “poachers broth.” Place an order for it and you are presented with (1) a cast-iron vessel laden with quail eggs, and fat slivers of pheasant, duck, and wood pigeon and (2) a teapot filled with a hearty, long-simmered distillate of the game bird’s bones. Your server ceremoniously pours the fragrant liquid over the solid ingredients and you dine. A good dish to start with if you skipped lunch.

Poacher’s broth (Image: Jones Wood Foundry)

On Sunday’s the restaurant does Sunday supper replete with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. On any day you can partake of the latter, the pastry browned and puffy. You tear off chunks and slather them with a delectable Stilton dip.

The centerpiece of the chicken liver and foie gras parfait is a large dollop of creamy liver mousse, which you spread on what we Yanks know better as Texas toast. Spoon a little of the accompanying grape chutney over each open-face sandwich, and you’re in business.

Back to the seasonal menu and to a brochette of grilled swordfish, the hefty chunks handsomely branded with grill marks. The fish is partnered with miso-glazed eggplant so intensely caramelized that is has been reduced almost to an addictive candy. The plate is rounded out by roasted chickpeas and an unheralded hillock of some of the best potato salad I’ve ever tasted. A sprinkling of red fish roe provides a pleasantly salty accent.

Chicken, mushroom, and truffle pie and chips (Image: David Portnoy)

If I have one quibble with Jones Wood Foundry it is that the steak and kidney pie, which I waxed ecstatic about in my review seven years ago, is no longer an everyday occurrence, replaced on the menu by a generic “pie of the day” listing. If the pie of the day happens to be the chicken, mushroom, and truffle variant on the day of your visit, you’ll have no complaints. The pastry crust remains shatteringly crisp, encasing a delicate, yet soul-satisfying stew.

An ethereal milk chocolate and sea salt tart, served warm, has lineage in both the mousse and brownie families. There is a first-rate sticky toffee pudding, but the dessert to have is banoffee pie: a stratum of toffee pastry cream (heavy on the vanilla) and another of ripe sliced bananas, all encased in a sweet and crumbly crust. This most sublime of banana cream pies is slathered with thick whipped cream and dappled with slivers of toasted almond — hard to beat.

Milk chocolate and sea salt tart (Image: David Portnoy)

For the inveterate bathroom reader and/or cooking enthusiast, the walls of the WC are adorned with recipes for Bedfordshire clanger, spotted dick, and more.

Service is friendly and accommodating.

Price range: At dinner: $6 to $16 for first courses, $19 to $28 for dinner, $8 for dessert. Toasts are $7, $9, and $13.

Jones Wood Foundry, 401 E 76th Street, bet First and York Aves, 212-249-2700Open seven days for dinner, weekends for brunch, and daily (from 5 p.m. on weekdays, 4 p.m. on weekends) for toast. Major credit cards are accepted.

 

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