The Jones B-Side recently posted on their Facebook, asking for community feedback on how to improve themselves. Now I know I’m probably going to catch some heat for this, but the fact of the matter is this; I don’t think B-Side is very good at all. I enjoyed the original Eastside location, in all its tiny hole-in-the-wall quirkiness. The Shiitake Chicken dish was one of my favorites, and I always enjoyed my meals there when I actually got a chance to sit down. So when B-Side opened, I was excited. Sad to say I was severely let down, and never gave them another chance after a couple visits. Recently, some friends of mine spoke about changes at the restaurant, and they boasted a number of new menu items. Having sparked my curiosity, I paid two more visits to B-Side. Here are just some of my thoughts…
Dear Jones B-Side,
One of the rumored changes was to your poutine. I’m not sure what part of Canada you visited, or who served you some garbage poutine, but chicken or vegetarian gravy? No, it should be brown gravy ONLY. Cheese curds? Those aren’t cheese curds. Mojo pork, chicken breast, or tempeh on top? Seriously? B-Side’s poutine was the most sorry excuse for poutine I have ever seen, trumping the frozen sadness from Relish. So any rumored changes had me elated. But what did I see on the menu upon my return? The same thing! So let’s start by serving actual poutine, look at what Stubbies did. It shouldn’t be this difficult, it’s fries, cheese, and gravy.
Put off by the lack of change, I decided on the Zucchini Fries ($6) as an appetizer instead. While the buttermilk basil dressing was delicious, the batter on the fries was awful. It tasted like they were coated in stale corn flakes, not so much crunchy as they were sharp and brittle.
Amongst some of the actual menu changes was the boasting of the new Miso Soba Noodle Bowl ($14 or $15 depending on meat) advertised as marinated tofu or pork, veggies, a poached egg, scallions, and sesame seeds over a soy miso broth. What a disaster of a dish. For $15, I basically received a bowl of cabbage, some mushrooms, and a pinch of soba noodles. The dish was cold and the kitchen had apparently forgotten to add pork to my bowl, so I had to send it back. What I received was a heaping mountain of mojo pulled pork in my soup. It was just plain disgusting, and I felt like I had just consumed someone’s dirty laundry. Hell, the Malaysian government is going to find Flight 370 before I find any noodles in that dish. What a disaster. I will say that the Mushroom Spinach Tortellini ($13) was pretty tasty. While the flavors were good, I found the sauce to be watery.
Oh, and did I mention a friend of mine was served a completely raw burger? I don’t really think I need to explain this one.
Granted there are some positives. The bar has a large selection of mixed drinks, some great beers, and the half off Happy Hour specials are fantastic. You’re also one of the few downtown restaurants open until 2 AM, so if I’m out late and drunk, you don’t sound so bad. I say play to your strengths here. As a bar, you’re wonderful, but as a restaurant…well…yeah…
I can overlook the sometimes-flaky service (though my waitress was wonderful when I most recently visited), and the strange Flintstones McDonalds outdoor patio. I get it, it’s hip, and people are buying what you’re selling because they’re told it’s cool. But it’s not cool. You would think that some of that money you’re charging for water could be put towards hiring some cooks who could actually cook a burger. Even though I’m an advocate for eating local, it doesn’t mean I will blindly support a like-minded eatery, even if it isn’t good. Boasting about all the local businesses that supply your ingredients doesn’t mean anything if you can’t do anything with it.
Don’t overshoot your strengths, because it’s clearly not the food. You’ve managed to create jumbled misinterpreted messes (Miso Soba Noodle Bowl), completely insult a classic (Poutine), and even ruin the good dishes brought over from Eastside (Why is the Shiitake Chicken served over a fried potato croquet now?)
Legendary music producer Phil Spector was notorious for recording throwaway songs and weak material for the B-Side of his records. Right now, this is one restaurant that is really living up to its name. But it’s not unsalvageable. B-Side can succeed as a bar that serves food, but not a restaurant with a bar. Good night, and good luck.
-Ken Eats Gainesville