A strong case for comfort food

11:56 am | Saturday, November 13th, 2021

Shrimp “aguachile”

Think of it as the granddaughter of Chelsea and Mr. Jones, says Martin Wisniewski, vice president of Raintree Hospitality Group, about their latest restaurant, Jones All Day in Bonifacio Global City.

Chelsea refers to Chelsea Grand Café, the comfort food outpost that used to be in the same spot Jones All Day is now. And Mr. Jones was the American diner in Greenbelt 5, which lured people with their double-smoked bacon, fried chicken and waffles, and huevos rancheros for many years.

Raintree has proven time and again with equally successful brands, such as Providore in SM Aura and the Farmer’s Table in Tagaytay, that comfort food is their forte. It is a concept that has worked for them so converting their friendly Japanese concept Motto Motto, which ran for a good four years, to Jones All Day was a walk in the park.

The design facelift only took three months, around the same time it took chef Kalel Chan to develop his international menu.

All-time favorite

“In Singapore, they sometimes serve laksa with croissant on the side. So it became easy for me to come up with the direction once I thought of this theme,” he says.

And the inspiration is quite apparent, especially in dishes like Thai Crudo, thin slices of white fish doused with nuoc-lime vinaigrette and dots of sambal; Cacio e Pepe Truffle Fries, crispy potato dressed in black pepper and Malagos pecorino; and the Sichuan dan dan sauce cloaking house-made handkerchief pasta. Even dull chicken liver spread was prepared with a dash of inventiveness as it comes with an apple-onion-umeboshi chutney, mustard and fruit and nut bread crostini.

Crispy brioche French toast

It seems Chan has handpicked familiar and sure-to-satisfy dishes from all over the world to make up for the restricted travel and pent-up anxiety the pandemic has caused everybody.

They range from Cheeseburger Supreme (with an option to make the patty plant-based) and stone-fired pizzas with a sourdough crust, to a classic French omelet with herb labneh, Eggs Benedict, pork loin schnitzel with purple kraut, green shakshuka made with grilled bell peppers and chili, and congee with siomai.

Our cuisine is represented, of course, as the all-time-favorite Mr. Jones Filipino breakfast—your choice between their famous tapa, garlic longganisa or crispy smoked bangus with garlic rice, two cage-free eggs done your way, achara, and wedges of fresh orange—makes a most welcome return. Another dish that makes a comeback is M Café’s braised and deep-fried lamb ribs, which comes with fries this time.

Raw bar

Something that has never been rolled out in any of Raintree’s concepts, but Chan has been eager to offer, is the raw bar.

“I’ve always wanted to put up one, and since there’s no restaurant in the neighborhood serving it, I found my opportunity. Imagine, weekend brunch with mimosas and Aperol spritz with a seafood tower,” the chef says.

Szechuan lamb ribs

Shrimp aguachile with corn tortilla chips, sesame togarashi-crusted tuna tataki with dynamite sauce, a medley of seafood in Bloody Mary sauce, and freshly shucked Aklan oysters with mentaiko Mornay—the proposition couldn’t be more appealing, especially with many diners opting to dine at the alfresco area.

After my experience, I’d like to think of Jones All Day as its own entity, devoid of any comparison, because it feels as if Raintree has gotten a revitalized energy, having made good use of their pandemic downtime to be better at what they do.

They are now making their own line of bottled gourmet goods. Plus, they have expanded their baking and are now baking daily stocks of croissants, pastries and many other breads.

Thai crudo with nuoc-lime vinaigrette

For a time, I felt that their brands were getting weary, but the opening of Farmer’s Table (the much talked about and, perhaps, busiest new restaurant in Tagaytay for months now) and Jones All Day are clear proof they’re back in the game, and ready to take their spot back when it comes to comfort food dining. INQ

Jones All Day is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; G/L, Serendra Piazza, McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Follow the author at @fooddudeph on Instagram.

Bistro salad dressed with a three-berry vinaigrette

Mr. Jones “tapsilog”

Tags: Food , Tall Order

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