Me and Mrs Jones versus Bodega de Pintxos

13 Dec

It’s December, the days are long, the weather is (finally?) warm (hopefully for good!), and what better way to catch up with friends than to venture down to rejuvenated Kingston?

In previous posts I’ve made no secret that I feel like Kingston is tired. It’s been hard to please me, and I’ve seen many bar and restaurant efforts falter and close. (And I can’t believe Portia left Portia’s Place. Seriously.) But the hype surrounding Me and Mrs Jones has seemed to breathe new life back into the area, much like when Kennedy Room first opened in 2009.

It’s been hard to get into Me and Mrs Jones since it opened. Last Saturday, it was completely booked out for Christmas functions. This evening we found one of just a handful of outdoor tables which weren’t marked with a ‘reserved’ sign, and were promptly but politely informed that in a few hours we’d have to vacate the table because it was going to be later taken by others.

The service for our first order was prompt. I hadn’t realised it was table service, and was surprised it was – and on reflection, this has probably contributed a little to the higher-than-I-think-you-would-reasonably-expect prices. Because of this, I never went inside, so I’ll have to leave it to our friends at The Canberran for their thoughts on the decor. Our waiter was very attentive, joking with us, providing us with menus, pointing out that tapas and burgers would be served until 6pm, at which point the rest of the menu would kick in.

2012-12-13 17.39.34

A bit pricey?

2012-12-13 17.39.14

2012-12-13 17.38.18

Not much Canberra wine :(

Not much Canberra wine 😦

The back of the summer dinner menu has the extensive wine list (with, regrettably, just one Canberra district wine – the Nick O’Leary Riesling), and there’s a separate menu which has cocktails, frappes, milkshakes, softdrink and beer. The menus are written beautifully, with clever little barbs (I’d leave them to you to find and enjoy!), and there is a lot that looks appetising. I’m really surprised that the beers take up so little of the menu, and there appear to be just two tap beers. A real surprise.

BEER

BEER

The menu obviously tempted us, so we ordered the trio of tapenades, including moroccan carrot, fig and beetroot. They arrived in cute but tiny little jars, with six pieces of bread each. This was followed by our drinks, where the tap beer was served in nice mugs. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and while it was busy, it didn’t feel crowded. My friend who doesn’t like beetroot dip loved this tapenade, and I was a huge fan of the fig one.

Cute jars of tapenade

Cute jars of tapenade

Tapenade and beer

Tapenade and beer

While our waiter was very good, another seemed rather new, and kept trying to give us drinks which our table hadn’t ordered. We would have happily taken them, and he was easily forgiven because he remained easy going and polite.

After our first round, we opted for wine. I had to go for the Riesling, which was poured into an oversized glass, and it seemed like a decent portion. We were again tempted by the menu, this time the black truffle and blue cheese croquettes with quince aioli, and our waiter assured us they were as good as they sounded.

Well, I’m not so sure about that. There was a lot of crispy outside to the croquette, and not a lot of filling. The sauce was excellent, but the croquettes left a burnt taste in my mouth. (Perhaps they were supposed to? They were still tasty.) For $14, there were just three small croquettes. When we casually remarked that we could have eaten two or three, the waiter thought that we meant they were that good, but really we just thought the serving portions were very, very small and seemed like not a lot for almost $5 each.

Sadly, no photos of the croquettes, as I was too interested in what they would taste like to take a pic.

At this point, we remarked to our waiter that we thought we should be moving on as he’d made clear, and he agreed but there was no indication about how this would work. I asked if we should be getting the bill, or if instead we could be moved inside, noting it was quite packed? He responded that they did look booked out, but that he’d check. On his return, his response was simply handing the bill to us, and no further conversation, so we assumed only that that was that.

Our waiter had mentioned that a new tapas bar had opened down the street, next to the Kennedy Room. We hadn’t heard of it, so thought we should at least venture past. Bodega de Pintxos is, according to outincanberra.com.au, located in the old space where L’Unico was. It’s a pretty vast area with high ceilings – reminding one of my companions as like an auditorium. The features are the nicely decked out bar and restuarant ‘buildings within a building’, but the rest of the restaurant is missing a bit of oomph in terms of decor. There is high seating and low seating, and when we arrived, there were just a few spots available and we opted for the low seating option near the door.

Auditorium-like feel?

Auditorium-like feel?

We grabbed a menu off a nearby table, but were then handed a variety of A3 and A4 menus, which turned out to be a drinks menu and a food menu. They’re a little hard to follow because there’s so much happening on a page. Every so often I’d be surprised or excited by another menu often, including, “Hey, there’s sangria!” which we indeed settled on for $26 a litre.

Well, hello.

Well, hello.

In the meantime, we noticed that the owner (?) went to quite a lot of effort for any new arrivals, clearing tables and moving them and providing guests with menus so that they were comfortable. I was impressed to see that.

All our waiters appeared to speak Spanish or at least have a heavy accent, so there was a lot of pointing rather than telling them what menu item we wanted. What’s more, quite a lot of the menu items were indeed written in Spanish, some words which would be hard for even the average cosmopolitan Canberran to pronounce. We ordered the chorizo, 12 hour pork belly and squid.

Busy menu

Busy menu

2012-12-13 19.30.13

Everything arrived promptly. The sangria didn’t taste like cordial as we’d feared; nor was it overloaded with fruit and ice. Between the three of us we had three and a bit big glasses (of which I’m probably still feeling the effect!). The squid was our smallest dish, with the chorizo the largest. The pork belly was delicious and soft, though there was some fatty bits. The chorizo was spicy and delicious. The squid was probably a bit too battered for me, and perhaps not enough compared to the others (and in comparison with prices).

Squid - beautifully presented

Squid – beautifully presented

Pork

Pork

Plenty of chorizo - best value by far

Plenty of chorizo – best value by far

Overall, a genuine enjoyable night out in Kingston, which I haven’t said in a long time. The interest in new and genuinely interesting and exciting places is palpable – there’s something about being at a place that’s popular and new. The folsk at Bodega de Pintxo and Me and Mrs Jones are clearly trying very hard, and I hope neither establishment ever loses that. Bodega de Pintxo only opened YESTERDAY, which is a pretty stellar achievement. Me and Mrs Jones has had a touch longer to settle in, but I’m not sure either would have expected their popularity.

They are perfect late afternoon venues, and long may they continue. I can guarantee I’ll be a frequent visitor of both over this summer – though to be fair, I’ll be eating any tapas at Bodega de Pintxo due to their much more favourable amount/price ratio (I’m still tempted by the mains and desserts at Me and Mrs Jones, and apparently the breakfast is excellent). And while I’m the last person to want to be seen to be ushering in the colder months (are we even out of them yet?), I can’t wait to see what their winter menus look like!

Date: Thursday, 13 December 2012

Attendees: T1 and friends

Cost: $75 at Me and Mrs Jones (two beers, one rum & coke, two tapas, three wines) and $67 at Bodega de Pintxo (three tapas, one litre of sangria)

How are we supposed to be subtle with a bill which is on a piece of wood with a nail?

How are we supposed to be subtle with our payment with a bill which is on a piece of wood with a nail? (I do quite like it.)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? http://www.mmjones.com.au/ and http://www.outincanberra.com.au/bodegadepintxos

2012-12-13 20.19.46

We genuinely drained the jug of sangria!

Bodega de Pintxos Taperia Espanola on Urbanspoon

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4 Responses to “Me and Mrs Jones versus Bodega de Pintxos”

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