When you walk past the storefront for Jason’s Library, you’ll see a quaint little library, just like any other, with shelves filled with cookbooks and travelogues. But for those in the know, there’s more than meets the eye! Give the attendant a nod and a wink and he will swing open a bookshelf to reveal a secret entrance to a hidden dining room and bar.
The dimly lit chamber has an English gentleman’s club feel with masculine browns, leather chairs and woodsy ornaments. Slow jazzy music plays, inviting you to settle in at the bar and enjoy a cocktail from the bartender Mark, who comes with years of experience from mixing drinks at La Pedrera. Try the Gin Tonic No.1 (78RMB) with London No.1 gin, sprigs of rosemary and thyme and juniper berries.
The proprietor of this establishment is Jason and the decoy library in the front is his own private collection. Being an avid home cook and having spent time abroad in England, Jason had a big role in setting the restaurant’s menu with English dishes like Cod Fish Steak (148RMB) with mashed peas, Beef Wellington (238RMB) and Fish and Chips (68RMB). Soups and salads, pasta, risottos and pizza, steak, roast chicken, roast lamb and burgers round out the rest of the menu.
The Beef Wellington is portioned for 2 people and is a piece of filet mignon wrapped in mushrooms, prosciutto and puff pastry then baked to a golden brown. The beef was very tender and the prosciutto provided the required saltiness.
The Green Pepper Ribeye (178RMB) was smothered in a delicious creamy green peppercorn sauce and the beef was flavourful with ample fat content. I was surprised to learn that their beef is from China and it certainly is the best Chinese beef I’ve ever had.
At the beginning of the meal, we had a fruity Prawn Cocktail (68RMB) and a Fruit Salad (48RMB) with nuts, mint and yogurt sauce. There was also an interestingly presented calamari where instead of the usual rings, the squid was cut lengthwise and swirled up after deep-frying.
Jason’s Library is located in the same complex where Charcoal is. From the entrance to the parking lot, walk towards the right and you’ll see the library.
Review on December 21st
When it comes to beef dishes, Jason’s Library certainly has the best menu in town. He was the one who first brought Beef Wellington to Hangzhou, plus other British specialties like Scotch Eggs, Steak and Guinness Pie and Stargazy Fish Pie. For this holiday season, Jason is being thoughtful to vegetarians and has added some new, mostly meat-free, creations.
First we started with a vegetarian appetizer, Bell Pepper Toasts (48RMB). These are simple and colourful bruschetta with lightly marinated strips of red, yellow and orange bell peppers and feta cheese.
The other completely vegetarian dish was Aubergine, Tomato & Cheese Bake (78RMB), a version of eggplant parmigiana with the addition of feta cheese. It’s served hot and bubbly, fresh from the oven and I liked that it wasn’t too oily.
Beef & Rocket Salad (58RMB) is truly a Jason’s Library style salad because underneath that pile of rocket leaves, shaved parmesan and mushrooms are loads of thick and tender slices of Australian M3 beef tenderloin filet. You are eating a salad but you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself in the least with all the fabulous beef they give you. Furthermore, tenderloin is a very lean cut of beef, making this a healthy, low-calorie salad.
Next up was a seafood pasta, Catalina Homemade Fettuccine (88RMB). It has a smoky paprika sauce and seasonal seafood like prawns and mussels, carried by hand-made pasta. The texture of the pasta was quite nice, not tough at all and with a slight chew.
For Christmas time, there are just some traditional foods that we feel homesick for and Jason’s Library will offer us a Turkey Leg (158RMB) platter. This turkey leg was massive, almost 1 kg, and can be shared by 3-4 people. It comes with fixings like mashed potatoes and vegetables.
Jason’s Library is a speakeasy style restaurant and bar accessed through a secret bookshelf in a cookbook library. Once you enter the library, an attendant will open the secret bookshelf for you to slip through.