It always amazes me how architects plan and design buildings. What goes through Frank Gehry’s mind when he sits at his drawing table and creates a masterpiece?
The same can be said for the men and women who gut a building and turn a former big-box video store into a restaurant. This happened over many months when Jane G’s opened at the corner of 20th and Chestnut streets. I knew it was going to be a restaurant, but there was no clue as to the type of cuisine. Last week, after doing some shopping and people watching in Rittenhouse Square, Sandy and I strolled over to Jane G’s and looked forward to a quiet dinner.
I must say it is a lovely space. There are looming ceilings, hardwood floors, black leather booths, a raw bar with open kitchen, fine lighting and tables set with white linens.
“Is this our first time here?” our server asked.
I have noticed the ridiculous use of the "Royal We" by waitstaff. I desperately wanted Professor Potts, portrayed by the great Gary Cooper in “Ball of Fire” to magically appear and correct this young man’s grammar. I said "yes," which was an instant mistake.
“Let me recommend some of my favorite dishes,” he said.
When will restaurant owners understand that their guests want to settle in with a menu and a drink and left to their conversation?
With that said, I'll move on to dinner. I sipped a small glass of GL Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc ($9), a fine grassy wine from New Zealand as we discussed the bill of fare.
Sandy and I love raw clams and noticed a half dozen of top necks were $6. We prefer cherrystones but these were a tad smaller and OK with us.
Clams must be icy cold. Unfortunately, these clams, which were nestled on rock salt and served on an oblong plate, were just cool. They would have been better if they were served on crushed ice. I noticed Jane G’s menu is Asian fusion with a nod to the French. Why else would a bisque, a few Thai dishes and fried fare keep company on a menu?
Duck taro spring rolls ($7) imparted a creamy filling inside crispy wrappers, which were a tad greasy. I could not detect any true duck flavor. They came with a slightly sweet dipping sauce.
Sandy likes dumplings so we ordered the duck pine nut dumplings ($7), which arrived lukewarm. The filling was non-descriptive — I could not taste the unique flavor of duck. The dish was listed as chicken pine nut dumplings on our bill.
Since our previous courses lacked flavor, our eyes immediately turned to garlic noodle heaven shrimp ($15). It is named for the restaurant called Noodle Heaven that did business on South Broad Street for many years. Its former owners opened Jane G’s.
Our waiter advised this was among his favorite dishes. The plate contained a few medium-size shrimp, which imparted a strong iodine flavor. The lukewarm cream sauce, blended with leeks and udon noodles, tasted a bit like garlic. Midway through this dish, we asked a server to have it heated up a bit.
Unfortunately, this was not one of my favorite meals although the staff is friendly and the décor is pleasing to the eye.
I cannot stress how important it is to check your bill before paying. I was charged $10 for a $9 glass of wine and $17 for a $15 shrimp dish. The errors were quickly corrected.
And by the way, rice does not come with dinner. There is an extra charge for this usually complimentary side dish.
One half tip of the toque to Jane G’s.