21 October 2015

Ask For Janice, Smithfields Market

I'm not a "City" girl. As much as I adore corporate attire worn on the likes of "Suits" (Donna and Rachel are absolute goals), I'm more of a jeans and ankle boots kinda gal. But any fears I had of starched suits and pencil skirts making me look more shabby than chic were erased when my friend and I rocked up to Ask For Janice.

I only knew about Smithfields Market through The Apprentice - I'd never actually been there myself. FYI, it's smack bang in the middle of Barbican, Farringdon and St Pauls. After my visit, I feel like I understand why city types are so smug (aside from their eye-watering salaries, of course) - it's because places like Ask For Janice aren't generally on the tourist radar, and so they remain their little secret.

Well, the secret is out - if you haven't explored the area, do. I was quite surprised to see how many little bistros and eateries there are in the area. It's fast on the way to rivalling foodie Mecca, Soho.

Inside, the vibe is basic and cool, with muted charcoal and off-white walls, with painted wooden tables, plastic chairs and exposed pillars. There was a mix off friends, colleagues and, we guessed from the coy glances across the tables, first dates. Upon entering, we were hit by a waft of paint, indicative of the investment that's clearly going into the site, as well as the area.

So, the drinks list. Ask For Janice prides itself on a gin list compromising of over 30 gins, with bespoke concoctions for each. To say we were spoilt for choice is an understatement...

But we made the best of it! Bloom gin with strawberry and lemon for me, and Gin Mare with rosemary and orange for my friend. Doubles, of course, to really get a taste of the gin *wink face*

At the excitement of complimentary gin, there was a small incident that involved a spillage (but no "lickage"*, thankfully). Aren't we classy (clumsy)?

My lovely plus one

On to the menu - which changes by the week, in case you were wondering. At first glance I was taken aback, because the plates aren't things I'd normally order, and some things I wasn't familiar with (told you, so classy). After some consideration, we opted for some safe options and a few adventurous ones, along with another gin companion,

When it all came out, we weren't disappointed.

 Our humble platter

Juicy, succulent chunks of chorizo, drowning in a tomato and sherry sauce.

Perfectly seasoned salt & pepper squid, cripsy and delicious

Our wild card - Beef croquettes with mustard. Meat that fell apart, with just the right amount of heat from the mustards (English and grainy).

Ever-so-moreish garlic chips which were pretty much inhaled, and a juicy chicken Kiev. We left the salad... because who were we kidding?

A veritable feast, I'll think you'll agree!

Very almost full, we felt obliged to ask about desserts (which aren't on the menu - just ask your waiter what's on offer that day) and we ordered both the ricotta & strawberry pancakes and a syrupy cake with ice cream to share. 

I'm not going to lie - the pancakes were bizarre. There was no syrup, and the ricotta and batter were very much savoury - a huge contrast with the strawberries. We didn't finish it.

The cake, however, was pure deliciousness, and happily devoured, both of us scraping the plate clean.

We finished off with a final drink, and a mooch around the premises.

Gin never tasted so good...

And that was a wrap. Incredible drinks, tasty food, buzzy atmosphere and some hit n miss desserts... This area is definitely worth a visit.

* Harking back to the old uni days, where "spillage" was "lickage". Not so acceptable now.

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