Hello Mrs Jones
MRS JONES RESTAURANT BAR LOUNGE LEVEL 1, 41 BLUFF RD, DEVONPORT LICENSED LUNCH AND DINNER DAILY 6423 3881
FOR 10 years, Jacqui Leary and David Aitken ran the best restaurant in the North- West, the now- closed Wild at Penguin. Together with chef James Lockett and the generous assistance of the city council, they’ve now opened a bigger and even better one – Mrs Jones in Devonport.
Leary and Aitken have brought their talents and well- earned reputations to the venture, with Lockett providing his restaurant design and culinary experience, honed after 12 years of consultancy work in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives.
Perched above the seagulls and bathers at Devonport beach, open to the sounds and smells of the surf and with the sweeping views over Bass Strait framed by The Bluff, the restaurant’s setting is simply superb.
As is the design and decor – the polished and patterned timber ceilings, the long, copper- clad bar fronting the open kitchen, the window groupings of Italian leather lounges, the large deck tables with cushioned seating and the spacious dining room strategically mirrored so every diner can share in the gorgeous ocean views. In the evening it must all be quite spectacular.
Add in meticulously clothed tables, quality tableware, customised crockery and floor staff in crisp white jackets and your expectations upon being seated are that you’re in for a superior dining experience.
And that’s just what I got in a procession of beautifully presented dishes at lunch just a few weeks after their opening.
Fresh oysters in a puddle of Asian- accented broth with a slice of crisp pork belly “lid” were followed by delicious tahini- dressed spiced beetroot, braised leeks and pistachio quinoa salad with a whisper of truffle oil and a textural scattering of toasted walnuts.
A piece of patagonian toothfish, marinated in white miso and wrapped in shaved cucumber with lemongrass and shiso pickle was a perfectly balanced combo of the sweet and salty.
Then came an inspired presentation of soft shell crab, crisp legs dramatically akimbo as it seemingly dived into its wrapper of tempura rice paper rolls filled with pink ginger, Thai basil and avocado with flakes of pink salt and dry chilli and a caramel orange dipping sauce.
Brilliant presentation – and tasting as good as it looked.
Finally, and tasting just as good, an exemplary red duck and pumpkin curry with coconut rice, crisp garlic, a knot of crunchy snake beans and a sweet cucumber pickle on the side.
Each dish of my meal was an exciting and complex interplay of flavours and textures and, while I seemed to have leant towards Asia in my choices, there are plenty of other, more mainstream options among the menu’s nine entrees and 10 mains including potato gnocchi, mushroom risotto, pan- fried Atlantic salmon, roasted lamb rack and “steak and frits” plus six desserts and local cheeses.
The wines, beers and ciders are wellchosen and priced with good Tasmanian representation and, under Leary’s professional eyes, the chic service staff got everything on the day spot on.
Leary, Aitken and Lockett are all North- West born and raised and, with one of the state’s most exciting new and reasonably priced eateries in Mrs Jones, they’re now repaying their community in spades.
Entrees $ 17 to $ 21; mains $ 29 to $ 36; desserts around $ 14.50; three cheeses $ 22; Tasmanian wines by the glass around $ 9.