Sunday, 4 December 2011

At the Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room

Ok ... first off let me just qualify this post with a few salient points:

- I'm in a Kathy Griffin frame of mind, as I saw her at the Atheneum on Saturday Night - side-splittingly funny btw
- I know Jackie Mahony personally, so this review could be biased ... and that could work either way
- I'm wondering where the fuck(balls) summer is!!!

For starters, I'm loving the layout of this place, but this part of Newport gives me the slight willies. The John Brack steal is borderline ultrahip chic, or possible stylistic misstep. I lean towards the former as I love John Brack.

And the bottlecap artpiece sort of works from afar, but on closer inspection kinda screams religious icon made out of dried pasta.

M hates the high stools because he's a fan of the sleep inducing back rest and we've seen these coloured aluminium stools before.

However, its a big space with loads of room, and a pretty beer garden just crying out for a warm summer's night. And I'm sure once the Wine bar is open in about a month's time, it will be a big hit.

I'm not a beer girl meself, all that hops and aeration makes me think flatulence and control tops! But we started with a delicious Bridge Road Indian Pale Ale and settled down to an evening of culinary grazing.

So we're about 8 paras in and I have yet to mention the name of the venue. We were at the newly opened Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room on Hall Street, Newport, opposite the Newport station.

Having ticked the box with a Boradsheet expose, this joint is already starting to pump, and is yet another contribution to the "gentrification" of the western suburbs, and judging from the food and the ambience, its a welcome addition indeed.

We started tonight's repast with the Tuna Tartar with dill, capers and aioli. This is Jackie's fav, and its now ours as well. The aioli is one of the best I've ever tasted. Its the prefect balance of salty, creamy and tart and provides a delicious base to the generous amounts of diced tuna. This is a must have if you go.

We next had the Prawn Toast with Cucumber and mayo - heaven!! I could have kept ordering this ad infinitum just about. It was just the right thing to have with our Pale Ale.

We also tried their Handcut chips, again served with that scumptious aioli and also tomato sauce. It arrived at the table in a paper bag ala Southpaw - cute! First few pieces seemed a little tad undercooked, but all the crunchy bits were in the bottom of the bag.

We finished this all off with a serve of their Slow cooked Lamb ribs with Olive and Lemon. The ribs themselves were cooked perfectly, but I would have liked a bit more punch to the flavour. I had to add pepper and salt, which is almost anathema to me. I'm glad they didn't smother the ribs with the Olive Tapenade, as I am not a fan of this. Perhaps a stronger herb accent with some rosemary, or even a final charring of the lamb after the slow cook may have bumped this up into delicious territory. Jackie said that this was still an evolving dish, so lets wait and see what their next take on this is.

After all of that, we had to force a pizza on ourselves, mainly out of respect to the mutha of a wood fired oven in an annexe off the bar.

We went plain with the Tomato, Basil and Buffalo mozarella - again I was reaching for the salt. The thin crust was beautiful, the ingredients were fresh, but perhaps a final drizzle of truffle or garlic infused oil could have made it even better for me.

All in all, even though it is a slightly further trek than Sabroso for us, we will most certainly be back. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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