Good day... My wife took me to Joes for the first time last evening, for my birthday. It was a near perfect meal, really. Based on so many good reviews at Chowhound, we were able to order with confidence. The two fixed priced menus had everything we needed, so ordering was a snap.
With 7 p.m. reservations, we were seated immediately. The bar area and its patrons looked hip/casual, and made me wistful for my long-gone drinking days.
Our waiter, Eric, was a good egg; professional and engaging and savvy as to how much conversation was enough. I was initially concerned that as we were not ordering wine, we might be viewed as lacking. Not so, and the waiter and his assistants were always intuitive in attending to our needs. A continuous basket of toasted brioche and onion bread was ever present, along with good tapenade and butter.
My wife had the Spring Menu ($52) and I had the Tasting Menu ($62), with mineral water for us both. I won't dwell too long on the menu items, as I'm sure that many here are well versed in Joes signature dishes. As briefy as possible, my menu included:
- A Chico consisting of thin duck breast over a potent whole cherry compote, with frisee and, I believe, a chive oil.
- An amuse of 'Cesar Salad Soup': a small tea cup of broth with wilted shreds of romaine, parmesan, and an intriguing bacon foam. Nice.
- A Lobster Salad: a large claw (or small tail?) of sweet lobster perched atop of thin sheets of artichoke heart, papaya and mango. Sauced with a mango coulee (?) that seemed spiked with good mustard.
- A generous Filet of a polynesian white fish, crowned with tender enoki and shitake mushrooms, lounging in pool of soy and (possibly) ginger. Nearly a main course in itself.
- Main course of meltingly rich boneless beef short ribs, nestled upon saffron risotto and garnished with sauteed chard. A detected a hint of cherry somewhere, too.
- A dessert Amuse of a small scoop of chocolate gelato that was mousse-like in consistency, garnished with a strawberry and a vanilla/coconut (?) sauce.
- A primary dessert of a purple 'Forbidden Rice', cool and pudding-like, coupled with a bracing mango sorbet.
I won't bore you with going through my wife's Spring Menu, but it was every bit as fresh and alternatingly clean tasting yet rich as my own meal.
The pacing of the meal was just right, at about an hour and a half. You know, I think back ten years ago when I hung out in that Venice neighborhood, playing hacky sack and swilling rut-gut Ancient Age whiskey from a pint bottle shared with my buddies. Wouldn't trade those memories, but it was sure nice to find myself at Joes and viewing the neighborhood from the inside for a change. Makes turning 45 seem OK :-)