50-52 Long Acre Lane, EC1A 9EJ www.askforjanice.co.uk
The lines have blurred in London’s eating out scene Ã¢â‚¬â€œ restaurants now typically have a good cocktail and drinks list, and bars and pubs now offer much more than just a packet of pork scratchings when you want something to snack on while sipping on your G&T.
Enter Ask for Janice, an all-day restaurant and bar that overlooks Smithfield Market. Set over two floors Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a ground floor’restaurant’ and a basement bar, it offers visitors a relaxed experience.
We visited in the evening, which meant the back-lit bar that takes center stage really stood out.
Surrounding it you have an eclectic mix of furniture, from sofas from those who want a more chilled out evening, and a mixture of high and low tables and wooden stools that are a little reminiscent of old school furniture.
There are, of course, strategically placed houseplants to add a touch of green to the place and offset the raw concrete pillars.
The drinks list at Ask for Janice is impressive Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a full menu is dedicated to the humble G&T, with additional specials on show and a gin chosen’gin of the month’.
The pink gin & lemonade wasn’t overly sweet as you might expect but had a nice smoothness and tartness from the lemonade.
Going slight off-piste, we also tried a rose vermouth & tonic which had a hint of bitterness from the grapefruit which was incredibly refreshing.
The food here is sharing style. It doesn’t sound like much but try the Mr. Chaudhry’s warm flatbreads Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they are light and fluffy and delicious.
The flatbreads also are perfect when layered with the London burrata Ã¢â‚¬â€œ creamy, ooey and gooey, and everything you want from this wonderful cheese. Some may say it’s overdone now, but I disagree.
It’s paired with pickled watermelon which gives a nice sharpness to cut through the rich cheese.
The pulled lamb shoulder, butternut squash and sumac onion flatbread pizza far surpassed expectations Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it was lighted that a traditional pizza but generous on the toppings. The sumac gives it a nice Middle Eastern kick and brings the whole dish alive.
AFJ potatoes are a must Ã¢â‚¬â€œ perfectly crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and with a nice kick from the padron mayo. In my opinion, a much better take on the classic chips on the side.
The only dish that disappointed at Ask For Janice was the Bavette. Everything else on this dish Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the chargrilled hispi cabbage which topped salty anchovy toast with crispy onion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was delicious.
However, the bavette itself, which should have been the star of the plate, lacked flavor, seasoning and wonderful chargrilled taste that the appearance would suggest.
Would I go back to Ask For Janice just for dinner? Probably not. However, it is a fantastic location if you’re looking for a spot to have a few drinks with friends, enjoy some sharing dishes and have a much more relaxed evening.
Perfect for beating the winter blues and pretending you’re somewhere much more palatable than grey, bleak London.