P: “Ask for Janice”
J: “Arse for Janice?!”
P: “No.. ask for Janice”
After a few more rounds like this, I finally heard loud and clear that this restaurant was called Ask for Janice. It is located opposite Smithfield market and is a short walk from Farringdon tube station. The name baffled me. Was Janice the lady to ask for to get a table? Was it one of these poncy places where you have to recite a riddle to the bouncer in order to gain entry and Janice was integral to the riddle? It turned out that you don’t need to ask for anyone called Janice, nor recite a riddle.
It is very stylish; lots of exposed brick, interesting artwork and chairs resembling secondary school art room chairs. It was slightly too loud though; I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to hear my fellow diners.
Our waitress was friendly, attentive and trendy (in keeping with the decor). She also advised us on ordering; the menu is split into “Things” and “Bigger Things” which are pretty much what they say on the tin. We paired off based on meat-eating tendencies. I was in the pro-meat pairing, and we opted for black dahl with deep-fried pickled cauliflower and paneer, braised beef croquettes (with two varieties of mustard), cod cheeks with braised fennel and lemon, stichelton, comte and pearl barley arancini (“things”) and roasted pollock with summer greens, parsley sauce and Cornish new potatoes (a “bigger thing”).
The dahl was wonderful, the croquettes were nice but a tad too salty, the cod cheeks were really great and the arancini was delcious and interesting given that arancini is usually done with rice. Note that cod cheeks taste the same as most other parts of the cod.
The pollock was really something special. It was so flavoursome, the greens were wonderful and the sauce was tasty whilst not being overly rich.
We shared a fruity/craime freche apricot granola dessert which was lovely.
Pre dinner I enjoyed an interesting gin cocktail from the extensive gin menu, including sloe gin which i tried for the first time (and plan to drink again soon).
Dinner was approx. £30 per head. Highly recommended.