Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Review - The Jam Factory

Whenever I think of that phrase, I think of a Jeffrey Archer novel. I think it might be Honour Among Thieves. This is irrelevant but the phrase is stuck in my mind since my plans kept going to hell this weekend. It is incredibly annoying to be struck down with an affliction when you've been looking forward to something (however lame that thing is) for a while. More so when being so afflicted was entirely the result of your own bitch-on-heat stupidity. Sigh. But that's what happened when I came down with a 24 hour vomiting bug. I tried to protest by putting on a pretty dress and eight earrings but to no avail. I was so sick that I couldn't even contain it for the three minute walk home. Lovely. Anyway, more annoyingly, the fact that there was interference with my stomach meant interference with another 'well put together' plan. (I should stop putting so many in-jokes in these posts.) Since Incredibly Good Looking kept denying me The Jam Factory, I decided to book a table for him, The Illusionist and I (title of my upcoming novel?) well in advance so they couldn't mumble excuses about work and going to Aziz instead. What folly.
To start, they had terrine and I had the smoked haddock soup. They were both rather bland and uninspiring. The soup was nice but I mean that in the same way that I do when I use the word 'nice' to describe people; it's not a compliment. There's nothing I could point to as objectionable (apart from that it could definitely do with a squeeze more lemon) but it did nothing to set my world alight. Speaking of light, the candles in the wine bottles on the tables were nice (this time I mean it as a compliment).
For mains, they had the pork rump with handcut chips and kale to share. I chose to order bizarrely and get a starter and a starchy side as a main. Incredibly Good Looking commented that this is the kind of thing that his mother would do that would piss him off. But that didn't deter me, I ordered the sauteed green beans with cured pork and parmesan and the 'monkey mash'. 
The waiter fucked up our order. He chose not to write anything down and this really did screw him over. The pork which was supposed to come with handcut chips came with fries instead so we received some handcuts on the house. Then, my 'monkey mash' came as the 'rootbake' instead so we got to keep that for free. It's good that these things were free since they were all riddled with errors. The fries were unevenly seasoned. The Illusionist offered me a 'salt stick' so I took one except I got an underseasoned one. Apparently that was the one non-seasoned stick of the bunch. The handcut chips were similarly laden with salt. A nice, crispy texture but barely edible for the salt. The monkey mash on the other hand was completely lacking in salt. We barely touched that. The rootbake was nicely seasoned except unfortunately, it was swimming in oil. I love greasy food but this was too much, even for me. The pork steak was dry and far too chewy to make for a pleasant eating experience. The kale was good though. The one saving grace was probably the beans, cured pork and parmesan. It was a really good flavour combination, zingy freshness in the just-cooked beans offset nicely with peppery pork (to go with our peppery wine) and creamy parmesan. Unfortunately, this too was swimming in oil and got less pleasant with every mouthful.
Overall, the food was not a resounding success. The evening was not spoilt though - enjoyable wine (half price on Mondays!) and brilliant company. The thing with the Jam Factory is that you can see what it's trying to do. It's trying to create a relaxed multi-purpose, arty space that's easy to relax in. And it's getting there. The decor is quite tasteful (except for the horrible canteen-esque chairs which try to be retro except just look like canteen chairs), the atmosphere is chilled (although a little spoilt by the banshee screeches of the open mic night from the next room) but somehow, it doesn't quite pull it off. If it didn't seem like it was trying so hard then it would probably be fine but unfortunately, it reeks of effort. A good place to drink, not to eat. 

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