Fresh From 'down Under'
Oasis Living tries out Al Ain's newest gourmet grocery-cum-restaurant, Jones the Grocer
When it comes to food trends and fads, the UAE's most populous cities - Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah
- are quick to satisfy the demand. Al Ain, on
the other hand, is a bit slow on the uptake
with not as many eclectic options being
available to its local foodies.
Take Jones the Grocer, for instance. There
are two branches in Sharjah, fve in Dubai
and fve in Abu Dhabi, yet Al Ain's frst
opened a mere four months ago.
Nestled in the city's newest retail,
recreational, and housing complex, Al Ain
Square, the venue displays the same casual,
contemporary vibe that its brand is known
for. Patrons are quickly put at ease on arrival
as they're enveloped in soft, warm lighting,
friendly smiles from attending staff and, best
yet, the delicious smell of freshly, baked
The restaurant is spread over two ﬂoors,
housing an enclosed walk-in cheese room,
a gourmet charcuterie counter, a spot for
cooking classes and its usual area of stocked
The menu offers enough of a variety to easily
fnd something to satisfy your palate, but
it is still limited in comparison to its other
branches in the country. A useful feature
is the icon identifers on the menu, listing
whether a dish is vegan, vegetarian, dairyfree, wheat-free and so on. The kitchen is
also lenient enough to accommodate special
dietary requests if possible.
We kicked off our meal with a round of
appetisers which included a nice selection
of salads, the ingredients of which were
as fresh as promised. Two stand-outs
included the Roast Pumpkin and Feta Salad
with Flaked Salmon and the Classic Jones Caesar Salad. The former presented an
almost tangy taste thanks to the zesty,
yuzu-marinated pumpkin. The latter, on the
other hand, was overwhelming in taste with
a number of its ingredients – poached egg,
garlic croutons, smoked beef bacon, and a
tad too much parmesan – almost fghting to
be the dominant ﬂavour.
One dish which made a lasting impression
from the main courses is the Trufﬂe
& Mushroom Risotto which was of an
extremely generous portion and surprisingly
light. Creamy and done quite well, it was an
all-around hit with helpings being spooned
over and over. The juicy Jones Wagyu Burger
also didn't disappoint in taste and is even worth returning for, although its price tag
of Dh83 does give pause.
The Australian Striploin Steak also left an
impression, but unfortunately, a bland one.
With an option of two dry rubs available
– chilli fnish and coffee – both ended up
offering only subtle hints of the rub, so
subtle that the palate couldn't even pick up
on it. If considered a regular steak though,
the striploin was of average taste.
The desserts, despite the varying selection
on offer, were largely a miss with a few
being undercooked and lacking the depth
of ﬂavour that one usually expects of
Presentation, however, was on-point
throughout with special care seemingly
given to the aesthetics of dishes, quite
possibly to encourage quick photo shoots
for social media. In fact, after images were
taken, our food was at the desired eating
temperature as if picture time was taken
into consideration when preparing the
dishes. The staff are attentive and friendly,
but not as knowledgeable of the cooking/
prepping methods as one might hope.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the
restaurant though was its prices, which
raised quite a few eyebrows at our table as
the food didn't exactly provide enough bang
for the buck.
All in all, while highlights include great
aesthetic – decor and food-wise - good
service, fresh food, and an eclectic menu,
there are still some major kinks that need
to be worked out like focusing more on
ﬂavour and not charging Dh80++ for a
simple burger. If this adjusts accordingly,
this restaurant has true potential for
becoming a foodie's hot spot.