Valentine's Day Restaurant Review: J Johnsons Wine Bar and Bistro

J Johnsons is somewhere I’ve been for lunch and drinks but I’ve never been for a proper meal there, despite the main menu looking really inviting.

The setting of the restaurant is really nice too - and I thought it looked like a really romantic location for Valentine’s Day, so we decided to book a table. Last year was our first Valentine's Day as a couple, but as we were locked down we ended up having a lovely afternoon tea delivered from Artisan on Newland Avenue. So going out was really nice for us this year!

The restaurant is normally closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so they opened specially to welcome us loved-up couples on Valentine’s Day last Monday.

The upstairs restaurant 

First impressions were good, the restaurant was lit with candles and had roses and red napkins on the tables, creating a lovely romantic setting, which looked great in the rustic venue.

We were eating upstairs, and were guided to our table before being given a menu. There was a little bit of a wait before we got our drinks ordered but the waiter was really apologetic.

I opted for a cocktail I’ve had from there before - the Nuts and Berries - which tastes kind of like a Cadbury’s fruit and nut bar. It’s delicious, while Jono had an elderflower gin.

Our drinks 

Our drinks soon came and we then also ordered our food.

We had a short wait for our starters to come, me opting from a king prawn thermidor (£9.50) and Jono opting for the mozzarella and salami arancini (£4).

My starter was absolutely delicious, it was fresh, juicy king prawns cooked in a creamy sauce, with melted cheese on top and focaccia bread to dip in. It was tasty, moreish and very rich. It was a nice size too and didn’t fill me up too much. I don’t think Jono thought his starter was great though, he said it was ok but they were kind of like meatballs rather than arancini.

Our starters 

Our starters were taken away, but no one came to offer us more drinks - and the restaurant began to get really busy, as is expected on Valentines Day! We finally stopped a waiter on the third time of trying and managed to order our drinks. I think they might have been a bit understaffed on the restaurant floor.

Time soon started ticking on before our mains came out, and we noticed a lot of the other tables were waiting for food too! The table next to us had ordered one of the large steaks to share (those looked amazing, by the way) and their food came quite quickly, but elsewhere people were all waiting.

We couldn't complain about free prosecco!

A waiter came over and apologised for the wait, then got us some complimentary prosecco to apologise, but some of the other tables were left just waiting! In the end it was about 45 mins between the starter being cleared and the mains arriving. We saw one couple leave having only had a starter!

In terms of the mains, I had a generous portion of porchetta (£17), on a bed of creamed polenta with vegetables including green beans, sugar snap peas and broccoli. It was topped with a madeira jus.

To be really honest, after the wait we’d had I’d have expected it to be cooked really well, but the meat was a little overdone and the sauce was a little thin for me, but it did all taste really good. I’d had the porchetta sandwich one lunchtime (£6) though and this was cooked really nicely so I’m not sure why it was so different?

Our mains!

Jono had beef lasagne (£15) and it was made with chunks of braised steak rather than mince and he said it was a bit unusual, and he’d have preferred mince (basic bitch hehe), though it was very filling. It was served with garlic focaccia and a side salad.

By the time we finished our mains we were very full and it was almost two hours since we first sat down so we decided not to go for a dessert, as I didn’t see a dessert menu I can’t advise on what was on offer!

The bill came to £70 for two mains, two starters and four drinks, so about right for a nice restaurant in Hull, but for that money I think you’d have expected the food to be perfect. We were a bit underwhelmed.

I think it being a busy Valentine's evening didn’t help, so I would like to go back again and maybe try the Sunday lunch menu (£18 for two courses), which looks really nice.

Overall, the food was nice and the setting was lovely, the staff were friendly and apologetic, we still had fun and our evening wasn’t exactly ruined by the slow service, but it was a shame given it was a special occasion.

Happy Valentine's Day!


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