After having sounded off yesterday to another hound about their comments about price, etc. at Il Grano (sorry jcwla - would it help if I said I had just had lunch with my tax accountant?), I found myself thinking about that very topic as a friend and I enjoyed another weekend brunch at Joe's. Clearly, two totally different experiences but I'm not sure the quality is vastly different in their respective styles.
Joe's was packed and we sat on the patio. At lunch and brunch, Joe's offers a beginning course with every entree. The most expensive item is $14. My friend had a perfectly cooked 6oz. salmon filet in a light citrus glaze with the best wasabi mashed potatoes I've ever tasted-subtle heat, nice flavor for $12. I opted for the huevos rancheros for $10 that sat on two lightly cooked corn tortillas with just the right crispness. Whoever is cooking this dish knows the cuisine-great seasoning and spice. The four first course offerings included a choice of a green salad, a terrific carrot rosemary soup, yogurt and fresh fruit from the Farmers' Market and an excellent homemade granola. The fresh banana bread that's served when you arrive (brunch only) reminded me of Sarabeth's or Zoe's in NYC (for the expatriats among us) and the brioche is very good with the strawberry jam. Only the creme brulee was a let down. I know. The dessert decried by pastry chefs from Sherry Yard to Natasha MacAller still appeals to me because I keep hoping I'll find one made as I once had it by Elka Gilmore at Camelion's - light, smooth as silk with a wafer thin layer of burnt sugar. Why do they taste like pudding or pastry cream most of the time?
Every time I dine here I am reminded that I think Joe's to be one of this city's best restaurants in its simple unaffected manner and great, clean fresh cooking. And with Mel the busboy overseeing the service, it is a cut above. Total bill with tip including two iced teas: $32.