In his interview with Zagat's in 2006, Stephen Starr commented, "people want to eat food that's not frightening." Jones typifies this sentiment by focusing on comfort food. Not a nouveau twist on comfort food, either. Things like meatloaf, mac and cheese, fried chicken. The real deal. With decor reminiscent of a Brady Bunch set, it both appeals to both celeb and suburbanite. I pretended to be the former and snagged an outdoor table.
Although the menu consists mostly of comfort food, it's still Stephen Starr, so the drink offerings run the amusing gamut -- from "Father Knows Best" (Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, fresh lemon and lime juices) to "Bug Juice" (raspberry vodka, cranberry juice, sour mix and 7-up with a gummy worm) -- but manage to stay within the theme of old-school kitsch (wait - is there any other kind of kitsch?). In any case, I went with "Happy" (Absolut citron, lemonade and club soda). Unfortunately, Jones's lemonade is not particularly sweet, and it's hard to admit to your average server that yes, you prefer your cocktails very sweet. It was, however, quite refreshing.
The nachos were a big, sloppy, delicious mix of chicken, salsa, black beans and lime sour cream. A lot of nachos have to do with the chip itself, in my book, and these were great. They were perfectly crisp, stood up to the toppings and still had a good, subtle flavor.
I ordered the fried chicken. They kindly accommodated my dark meat only request. It was straightforward and delicious. Appropriately served with fries and cole slaw (in a red basket no less!), I enjoyed it.
My Veggie Burger Friend ("VBF") ordered - you guessed it - Jones's veggie burger. Labeled the "Vegetarian Soy Burger," served with charred red onions (and most other fixings if you want them), VBF deemed it one of the best in the city. The onion rings rated highly as well.
I have to say that the best part of the meal was the one for which I was way too full. Desserts are hard to resist in a place that prides itself on comfort food. With items like the "Duncan Hines Chocolate Layer Cake" and "Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Sandwich," the desserts trigger those happy childhood memories of box birthday cakes and choosing flavors at Baskin & Robbins. I went for the white chocolate and banana bread pudding, topped with white chocolate ice cream and caramel. You could really taste the white chocolate in the ice cream, amazingly, and the bread pudding was done to the right combination of both crusty and soft. Excellent. It also helped that a friend's real estate agent was seated nearby and bought our desserts.
More reasons to love Philly -- it's a small town that unabashedly enjoys its comfort food. While sitting outside and drinking frou-frou drinks. Not a bad April evening.
Jones is located at 700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa, http://www.jones-restaurant.com/.