Review: John J Jeffries

21 March 2016

After last night’s horrible dinner in Harrisburg, I ended up taking stuff out of my hotel bar — which included roasted organic carrots of all things. But I didn’t catch up on as much sleep as I wanted due to a little bit of intemperate drinking after that dinner fiasco…

But a long day, and I was up way early. Long day today, many destinations. Eventually the day was to end in the historic town of Lancaster, and I checked into the very cool historic building that turned into the boutique Cork Factory Hotel. Really an interesting hotel.

I has skipped lunch again so was hungry, so went to dinner early. This time I chose a place that looked really fantastic online, the restaurant in another of Lancaster’s boutique hotels, the Lancaster Arts Hotel. This place is called John J Jeffries.

A nice dining room, I took my seat in the corner and relaxed. I ordered a cocktail and the menu looked fabulous. I then placed my order and chilled out. This is a proper restaurant, not like last night’s disaster. Service already gave me more confidence on the evening.

I was enjoying my cocktail but was hungry, and right on time the first dish appeared, and hearty it was.

1-liver

This was the grass-fed beef liver with onions. A larger portion than I thought, but it was terrific. Full of flavour, they don’t shy away from the natural goodness here. An excellent start, my confidence in tonight’s dinner shot straight up now. And soon after I finished this, the next item arrived, the meatballs.

2-meatballs

This was a mixture of duck, pork and venison, so it has an interesting flavour. Very tasty, with just a touch of cheese in the mildly spicy tomato sauce. An excellent product overall, some of the better meatballs I’ve had in ages. I am really enjoying this dinner!

The service has also been very good, and I can see why this place is so busy at this early hour! Then my main course arrived, and I smiled even more…

3-lamb steak

This was a very nice lamb leg steak, tasting of lamb — true, honest to goodness lamb from a nearby farm. Full of flavour, strong but not overpowering. A perfect combination for most people (I can handle my strong lamb), and this was cooked very nicely. I must also mention the sides (hidden by the meat) comprising of a nice selection of vegetables, from beets to sweet potatoes. They were lovely, a perfect addition to the main item.

I enjoyed this evening’s dining so much I actually ordered dessert — but first up was a local rye…which turned out to be more of a moonshine

4-ice cream

But I went with a nice ice cream selection for dessert (since I was too full to have anything more), some excellent flavours ranging from a deep chocolate to a smooth espresso. That, with a French press of good coffee, closed this wonderful dinner.

Wow, after last night’s total disaster I didn’t give this place that much hope before walking in, but they have totally sold themselves here. Solid service, excellent cooking, fabulous ingredients, what’s not to love about this place? And it’s a cool dining room in a cool boutique hotel in a pretty cool town.

Lancaster is highly recommended as a stop for anyone (don’t bother with Harrisburg!), but if you have just 1 meal here, give this place a go — you won’t regret it!

John J Jeffries
Lancaster Arts Hotel
300 Harrisburg Avenue
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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