Trevor Pepys reviews Mr Jones and Me
“And we all want something beautiful, man I wish I was beautiful,” Trev started humming involuntarily as he passed under the facade of Mr Jones & Me into the stylish but laidback interior of this much-renovated but ever-classy cottage at the river end of Weyba Road, on one of many recent rainy Noosaville nights.
Reopened after a shocker of a 2020, with Covid closures, renos gone wrong and a burst pipe causing untold pain (that’s Mr Jones, not me), Paul and Ferne Lammens’ chic bistro is looking welcoming again, but with a history like this building’s, what else would you expect! Once Durham’s bait and tackle shop, dating back to the ‘30s, the old fishing shack first gained local infamy in the 1960s when its owners gave it a bit of a tart-up and opened as Dial-a-Bird, which was when the young and frisky Trev rocked up full of fizz and was disappointed in the extreme to learn that they were offering not chicky-babes but chicken dinners.
But the place got its first dose of real fame as Anita’s in the late ‘80s, when Anita Lane and partner Peter Bain opened it as a brilliant little BYO, serving truly innovative dishes like Anita’s Ajillo prawns and avocado and grapefruit salad. Trev salivates over the memory, so let’s quickly jump to the more recent past, like a few rainy nights ago.
It still being maxed-out holiday season despite the weather, and perhaps because of the impending Brisbane lockdown, we had to take an early sitting too soon after lunch for Trev’s liking, but it only took a brief purview of the menu to get him hungry again. We ordered a bruschetta ($12) to nibble while surveying the wine list, which, while not extensive, is interesting but sadly starts around the high $40s. But, Trev feeling expansive and in a bit of a white wine mood, ordered the Principato 2018 Pinot Grigio ($56) and to hell with it.
Indulgent, si, but if you can find this beauty from the foothills of the Dolomites in the bottle shop, which is unlikely you won’t get any change out of $30, so the mark-up is reasonable. and it’s a fresh, fruity, true gold standard of the style. But a quick word about the bruschetta before we move on. Shoving some chopped tomato, red onion and basil on a chunk of ciabatta is not rocket science, but it’s surprising how ordinary this simple starter often is. This was perfect – fresh and flavoursome.
We skipped the entrees and made straight for the mains, the missus opting for the sesame crusted salmon ($35), which was my first pick, served with pea puree, greens, potato gratin and a caper and pine nut topper, but I agreed to the choice with the usual stipulation that we share. Trev went for the crispy-skinned pork belly ($34) with Asian noodle salad and fresh herbs.
Now, as loyal Tucker readers well know, it goes somewhat against the grain for Trev to find nothing to whine about, even if it is only the price of the wine, but here at the Jones’s the service, from hostess Ferne on down, was impeccable – friendly, efficient and paced just so. And if the simple pleasure of the bruschetta hadn’t already got us, the first succulent fork-loads of the salmon and the pork belly certainly achieved that.
The salmon needed a squirt of lemon, which was forthcoming within a nanosecond of being requested. Then it was perfect. A beautiful piece of fish, cooked and presented just so, with all the flavours of the accompaniments melding into a great dish, simple and fresh. The pork belly, ditto. All flavours present and accounted for, no teeth broken in negotiating the skin.
We shared a crème brulee ($13) because we still had half a glass of pinot to be going on with, we were having fun and we still had 15 minutes left of our sitting, not that anyone was even hinting that we should be calling for the bill. Not to be boring, but in taste and presentation, this classic dessert was about as good as it gets.
The verdict: Apart from the slightly twee love story on the opening page – “It all started with a song” — you know from simply opening the menu that this dining experience is going to be good, but just how good caught Trev by surprise. He left in high good humour, singing the words of the Counting Crows’ classic:
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
’Cause I wanna be someone who believes.
Mr Jones & Me, 301 Weyba Rd, Noosaville, 5474 1394