Went to Brasserie Jo last night for the first time with a friend.
Our reservations were for 8:30, but they had open tables and seated us a little before.
We both ordered the RW menu: a crab/egg compote surrounded by frisee and speckled with fresh cherry tomatoes; the entree was a choice between a halibut with ratatouille and white potatoes or the veal chop with crisp thin potatoes, mushrooms, a stuffed tomato and some baby arugula; and a dessert crepe stuffed with layered creme and strawberries and served with a creme anglaise.
The crab appetizer was lovely- a nice pairing of flavors. Perhaps nothing too special but competent.
My friend got the halibut, which seemed very light and flakey to me, a nice subtle fish. The ratatouille was heavy on herbs and was a nice pair for the fish. My veal chop was delicious, pink, and tender. The mushrooms were nicely sauteed and the potatoes remained crisp even when doused in remnant jus.
Dessert was fine. I'm not a huge fan of creme that reminds me of the inside of a bad doughnut, and instead lusted after their creme brulee, but it was ok. The strawberries inside of the crepe were not as flavorful as they could have been and definitely were not ripe enough, which really is no excuse since they're in season and dark-red strawberries are NOT hard to find.
The food was certainly not the best I've had in Boston, but it was a nice midweek meal and worth the price. We each had a glass of wine- a Riesling for my friend and a Sancerre for me.
The service was lackluster bordering on poor. They forgot to bring our bread plates and did it after the fact...but then said they were for another table, not ours. The baguettes were warm and delicious, but the table next to ours got one for each customer without prompting. The service to bring over the meal was slow and at the end of my appetizer, I was balancing bread pieces on my app plate (because of the lack of aforementioned bread plates) and they wanted to whisk that away while I was still noshing. They did bring out a hot main course, which is a real rarity these days (a rash of lukewarm food has swept the nation). The two Italian men next to us got much better service from both the maitre'd and the manager, who lingered and chatted in their native tongue. When the manager dared to ask how we were doing, I answered in Italian, hoping that we might get better service, but alas. There was a lot of waiting. The meal didn't seem effortless.
Meanwhile, the ambiance of the place was good-- very date-y without seeming dark. We could hold a conversation. And we were able to people-watch some really awkward first dates on the other side of the restaurant.
So, to recap:
Food: good; pretty standard; full portions; otherwise uninventive but decent.
Ambiance: nice. clean. good for people watching.
Next up for me, Upstairs on the Square next Friday night (the soiree room). I just have to find an eating partner for that one.
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