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Aug 21, 2013 02:52 PM

Lancaster- press room, belvedere or John j Jeffries

Which has best quality food?

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  1. John J. Jeffries by a landslide, IMO. Pressroom and Belvedere are not on the same level. Not BAD places, just not the kind of food you get at JJJ. If you want the same level as JJJ, look to Gibraltar or Ma(i)son... and now, Citronelle as a newcomer to town.

    3 Replies
    1. re: centralpadiner

      We are traveling to Lancaster this evening and have a reservation at JJJ. Using open table we read a number of glowingly good reviews. However there were a few which knocked JJJ quite strongly. Complaints regarding the cost of 3 scallop plate at $32, dry meat and indifferent and uninformed service staff with an apology from the manager with no compensation offered. I would bet on centralpadiner, of course any place can have an off night. Just hope it is not tonight.

      1. re: Bacchus101

        I hope you have a good experience Bacchus. I, too, have heard some of the negatives. All I can say is that I've only had a good time there and that others I know who have dined there enjoyed it very much. My husband reserved the private room for my surprise 40th and friends from all over the East, including NYC, D.C. and Philly burbs all seemed impressed.

        But, yes it is expensive. They also use grass fed beef, which can have a very different taste and texture to the corn fed most Americans are used to. I had a server get a little pretentious one time, but otherwise have found the service very good.

        1. re: Bacchus101

          Please let us know how it was. I am from Baltimore and am taking someone out for dinner. I usually go to the left bank in York but they are closed on Sunday. I am willing to press on to Kancaster for good food.

      2. I can't speak to the Press Room, because I've never been. But between JJJ and Belvedere, no contest -- JJJ by a landslide! And if you can snag a table at Ma(i)son, that's even better.

        1. Having only been to JJJ I can not offer an opinion regarding which I would consider "best quality food". I can say that JJJ was all round a good experience. The menu offerings are interesting and what we had ranged from just ok to very good. The bar was populated by a motley crew, very loud with more tea shirts then I would have expected, a Friday night happy hour group apparently very happy. The bar room was very pleasant, tenders were professional and poured a good drink. Specifics on the menu items we selected: The cheese plate had 5 nice cheeses, blackberries, with crostini and almonds. The Heirloom Tomato dish was comprised of very good ripe and tasty tomatoes, cheese and pesto. A beet and cucumber salad was nicely presented and quite good. A hummus plate was just ok, we eat lots of hummus, but tasteless. The soup duo of corn and tomato was fresh, delicious and for me a "must have again". The Shankers???, a brazed beef taco had very interesting and good quality components but was strangely devoid of any identifiable taste, the hot sauce help. Coffee was served in a press and had been pressed before bringing it to the table. My guess is it was not left to brew the time required to produce a good cup. The press was leaking from the bottom onto the table. Strangely it was not replaced but left on the table. The coffee was also cold very quickly. A wise man once told me that very fine restaurants always serve very good coffee. I have found this to be true most often. While they are attempting to do so at JJJ they have missed the mark completely, at least at this meal.

          We would definitely have dinner again at JJJ. There are many items on the menu which I believe would showcase the talents in the kitchen better than our evenings selections. We loved the al fresco dining on the lovely court yard. If we lived in the area we would frequent JJJ, when we visit there it would be on the short list of dinner choices. The menu prices and selections I would define as moderately priced. Is it a destination? Meaning would we travel from Philadelphia area specifically to dine at JJJ, probably not. However if you are in the hood or visiting definitely give it a try: all in all I would say very nicely done JJJ, good show!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Bacchus101

            Oops, two "small" corrections I have been requested to make are that, of course, they were tee shirts not tea shirts and the bland hummus was not bland hummus it was bland Baba ganoush.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              Thanks for your honest review, Bacchus. Interesting about the coffee, my husband's has always been pressed at the table. I would certainly have been insisting that the leaking pot be removed. Seems people regularly note service problems. I wonder if they struggle to hold onto staff there.

              I'm glad you'd overlook the shortcomings and try it again. And I agree with your assessment that it is not a place I'd travel a great distance specifically to visit. But, living in the area it is a top 5 option for a nice night out.

              I will say that for the first 2 yrs they were open, the menu was a rotating prix fixe that I enjoyed much more than the current small and large plates. It is too bad they weren't able to make a go of it in the area with that style of dining. But, I have already participated in long discussions about the state of dining out here, this is not the place to re-hash. Let's just suffice it to say that I have, too many times, lamented that many restaurants are "still pretty good, but not as good as when they first opened" after changes are made to meet local demand.

              1. re: centralpadiner

                Perhaps a staff change over at the end of summer. One would think they could attract good regular servers, but of course the full time server base seems to often be quite mercurial. Good point on the "local demand issue"; it can required adjustments from an original concept that often sacrifice a level of quality and creativity. I understand casual is what much modern American dining is today, we were casual. Tee shirts in a nice hotel at a good restaurant in a city is a bit too casual for this poster. Glad you mentioned this spot we did enjoy it. Oh, what are the others in order?

                1. re: Bacchus101

                  In Lancaster, specifically? I would recommend the same ones I posted to the OP in my very first response... don't know if I can list an order, depends on the mood.

                  Gibraltar for seafood, Ma(i)son - just all around good but very small place, constantly changing menu for seasonality, Citronelle is brand new and similar concept as Ma(i)son - both are BYO. To add a fifth, I think I'd suggest The Stockyard for a classic, old fashioned steak house or Culturas, just outside the city, for a South American twist on tapas. For casual and beer, hit The Fridge.

                  We also go to Harrisburg frequently where I enjoy Home 231, Char's at Tracy Mansion, Mangia Qui and Bricco. We actually go to Home 231 with the greatest frequency of any place listed because of the "family friendly" nature of this bistro.

                  As far as local demand - I actually meant the switch from a prix fixe format, which people just don't seem to grasp around here. I guess people don't want to feel like they have to get 3 courses and the "small plates" thing is a trend that is just starting to boom among locals, so JJJ had to join in. They also didn't have a patio for a couple years, which is almost seen as a necessity right now among local restaurants. They are getting added in even the oddest locations. Certainly, when people are outside or sitting at a bar, they don't feel the need to dress nice, which may help attract people. But that part doesn't actually bother me as much as dumbing down the menu.

                  1. re: centralpadiner

                    Thanks, we think the Stockyard is a great place for high quality standard fare also. Did not mean to make you repost, I should have read back. Understand your point on dumbing down the menu. Play to your customer base, the education process can only go on so long then you have damaged your business opportunity. Sorry for the strong opinion on tee shirts having lived some years in CA. I understand casual, but even there blah blah blah..beating a dead horse.