Coming up on its third birthday, Jason Hicks’ and Yves Jadot’s Jones Wood Foundry has become a mainstay of the Upper East Side — it packs in a solid crowd of regulars and destination diners for its roster of upscale British gastropub fare. So it’s unsurprising that the team wanted to expand, though the duo of spots that they opened last week — The Peacock and The Shakespeare (24 East 39th Street) — were more a product of a Midtown real estate offer than they were a premeditated search for a new project.
“I was asked to come and see the space by my landlord who bought the building,” Hicks explains. “He was opening the hotel above, and he was interested in having me doing the 10,000 square foot space downstairs.” When Hicks got into the bi-level address, he immediately envisioned an old English supper club upstairs and a more casual pub downstairs. After he did his research, he learned that Williams College, which held the building for 80 years, was modeled on Oxford and Cambridge — a British connection, he says, that legitimized his concept.
That supper club became the Peacock, and Hicks says his team really tried to preserve the integrity of the existing space, which is outfitted with wood paneling and fireplaces. “We gave it some TLC and paint, but we didn’t change the look of it,” he explains. Downstairs, the Shakespeare is more similar to the Jones Wood, he says, although the Jones Wood channels the English countryside, while the Shakespeare has a more urban feel.
The food in both spots is similar to Hicks’ uptown pub, “but with more emphasis on technique,” he explains. Stephen Starr alum Robert Aikens is helming the burners, and he’s turning out a board that highlights, says Hicks, fish and chips, Welsh rarebit, and a toast menu. The menus in both concepts will be very similar at the outset, says the owner, though plating will be different — boards and slates at the Shakespeare; fancy silverware at the Peacock. And as the kitchen finds its rhythm, the menu will evolve, and the Peacock will draw from a seasonal canon. Look, eventually, for weekend roasts (a British pub tradition) and breakfast.
As for the bar, Hicks and Jadot brought on the Raines Room’s Meaghan Dorman to create the menu, and she pulled together a menu that’s divided into acts as a nod to the Shakespeare theme. Cocktails are culled from a classic vein, and in the pub, the bar will sell pre-mixed bottles of drinks that you can share with friends. The duo installed three casks drafts plus 15 nitro lines in the Shakespeare, and they’ll pour UK staples Greene King and Wells and Young’s. Upstairs, they’ll pour Old Speckled Hen and three other drafts.
The Shakespeare opened with the toast menu and beverage list in tact, and it will soon roll out dinner and brunch. The Peacock is amping up more slowly, serving large groups prix fixe menus (created from the a la carte list) until the beginning of the year. At that point, it’ll introduce dinner then lunch, brunch, and breakfast.
And come spring, Hicks says, the spots will unveil a pair of gardens: a Champagne terrace that can hold about 40 people and a kitchen garden, where the restaurants will grow herbs, flowers for the tables, and berries. “We’ll use that for community outreach, too,” says Hicks. “I’d like to bring school kids in and pick stuff in the garden and go down and cook with the chef.”