Well from the time that we were at the Arts Hotel and from when you got there they must have cleaned up their act !! We had the most disappointing dinners in a long long time. Plus, it was my Birthday Dinner. We eat out 2 to 3 times a week and travel wherever for good food. My appetizer (goat cheese and mushroom with tomato coulis) tasted like tomato soup..void of
the other ingredients. My husbands Ahi tuna came out cold and had to be sent back...my pork loin was very fatty, I had to trim it on my plate. That cheese plate looked like 3 small pieces of chese thrown on a plate with some sort of toasts..no
presentation. my husband had the carrot cake which came out
looking like a mini muffin on this huge plate. this was laughable !!!! We feel they offer meager portions and high prices. 140.00 for 2 with 2 cocktails, no wine doesn't want me to go back anytime soon.
Just had dinner at John J Jeffries - WONDERFUL!
Ambience: exposed brick walls, wooden beam across the ceiling, hopping bar (did not seem smokey...), very pleasant wait staff, and beautiful old-style mural of the Lancaster County countryside. The dining room was rather loud, but it seemed energetic, not annoying.
Menu - is split into small plates and large plates. Small plate pricing is about $8-10, and including a cheese plate, a goat cheese and wild mushroom custard, mussels, oysters, and many more. Entree choices ranged in price from ~$25-35, and are not served with a salad.
Our meal -
I should mention first that everything on the menu (except for seafood) is from Lancaster County. Chef Cavanaugh believes in serving fresh ingredients, many of which are from organic and sustainable farmers/producers. Their menu changes daily, depending on what is available.
Dinner starts with triple-distilled water (chilled and on-the-house) and an amuse bouche. The amuse bouche was a beef carpaccio served on a silver spoon with olive tapenade. YUMMM! Then, we were treated to the BEST "relish" tray I ever had. (side note: if you were not raised PA dutch, you may not even know what a relish tray is... I didn't until I married into a mennonite family. It is celery, pickles, and carrots that are put on a tray and served with every meal.) Well, this relish tray consisted of some petite purple olives, (Not sure what type, Kalamata??) pickled carrot slices, and pickled cauliflower. I don't normally like olives, but these were very fresh and tasty. The pickled veggies were the best pickled vegetables I have ever eaten. I think they may have had cardamom??
For our first plate, my husband had the cheese plate, which consisted of tomme, cave-aged cheddar, and goat cheese. The quality was so good, we couldn't believe that it was local. I had the wild mushroom goat cheese custard. They served it with a spoon, warm. It was like the creamiest, richest creamy soup you could ever imagine. Seasoned to perfection.
My husband had the lamb for dinner and I chose the bison. (That's right, Bison from Lancaster County!) Each of our entrees were served with fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes. The seasoning on our entrees with very earthy. I am used to garlic and mediterranean seasonings, so I was surprised at the "pot roast" flavors on these plates. It was very comforting and tasty, but not "food-gasm" worthy.
For dessert, (we were stuffed!) we shared a goat cheese, caramel cheesecake. After our heavy entrees, the light, fluffy cheesecake just seemed to float. A more substantial hunk of dessert may have been a better choice. Two other dessert options that we turned down included homemade ice cream, and an option called "shake and cake," which was a peanut butter ice cream shake served with flourless chocolate cake. mmmmmmmm.
The wine list is not Lancaster County-based (thankfully). The prices seem very reasonable, with low-end prices around the 30's. We had a terrific young Argentian Malbec. (I believe it was called Furton).
My husband and I will definitely be going back regularly. I think next time, I might mix and match three of the small plates, and trick myself into thinking that Lancaster has a tapas bar!
I would love to hear about other Johh J. Jeffries experiences!
Actually, I was dying to know where the cheeses were from! Really excellent! I asked our waitress to find out, but she forgot. My husband advised me not to push it - I was seeming like a "Foodie-freak"! Hmphh! If your significant other allows you to ask - please let me know!