Friday, April 11, 2008

Joe's Restaurant
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Give me a reason to try a new restaurant and I'll most likely go there. Daph kept insisting that this Joe's place was good...and it was really close to her old apartment (she has since moved..), and of course I had done my homework and read great things. So we went during one of my days of aimless unemployment...
They sat us down, and sat this tasty looking pile of bread in front of us. The bread was really flaky...pretty cool that it was toasted, and loved that they had olive tapenade and butter...but I wasn't too keen on the bread. Too flaky...too brioche. I know people love brioche, but I love bread to have a good crust and a soft but supple interior of CARBY GOODNESS..but I digress...

All of us at the table chose the 18 dollar prix fixe meal, which comes with a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. Kinda neat...I mean, not everywhere can you get such a deal as this.
I and another diner got the tuna tartare. I can't say "no" to raw tuna...I just can't. The serving came out a lot smaller than I thought it would be (I mean check out all that real estate on that plate!) but I realize my expectations are for an appetizer that I would have paid like 12 dollars for, separately. This was a nice little taste of tuna - what appetizers are supposed to be! The little toasts were perfect with the cubes of brightly pink tuna, and the cucumber was a refreshing accompaniment. Delicious.
This just looks like a piece of art - Daph and the other diner got the yellowtail sashimi with a prosciutto roll, with a tasty artfully brushed..SOMETHING on the plate. Honestly, have no idea what it is - but it's salty, it's good, and it's pretty. So all in all, awesome.
This was the roasted chicken, which was proclaimed as "sooo good", "moist and tasty" and all in all, great. Cippolini onions, walnuts, and chinese veggies anchor this chicken, in a tasty au jus sauce.
Daph and I got the char - a fish that tasted a lot like salmon. It came with a swipe of that delicious salty stuff, turnips and a date. Yum. The skin of the char was crispy, the fish cooked perfectly. No complaints from me - the dish was scraped clean by the time the waiter came around again.
Us girls chose the sponge cake dessert - berry sauce, with real whipped cream, topped with a few blueberries. This was good, but I think more filling than I would have liked it to be. I didn't finish it - I mostly scraped off the fruit bits.
This lemon tart was exquisite. Matt took a bite and insisted for us to try a taste - and I'm glad I did. Mandarin orange slices, a great meyer(?) lemon base, buttery tart. This could be the perfect lemon tart. What a great meal. By the way, service was excellent - these waiters here are awesome. Not too intrusive, and attentive enough where I never felt that I needed much other than to enjoy the meal. They were also very well informed about what the food tasted like and what to expect from the kitchen.

I happened to go here again for brunch, as I wanted to share the experience with Owen. I made reservations through, and arrived at around 10am - I wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

We were seated near the window - a nice little table that casted some faint shadows across our food. Nice and cozy. So, for brunch, everything comes with a bit of an appetizer - I love that Joe's has that.
I tried the soup this time - a potato chive soup. Soooo good. Perfect amount of saltiness. Their soups are non dairy, yet so creamy! I almost licked the bowl clean.
Owen got the fruit and yogurt plate. Nice assortment of fruits, everything so attractively cut and laid out.
Owen got the pancakes, bacon and egg plate. He got his usual eggs over easy. These bacon slices were huge, and really great - Owen was happily crunching away. These pancakes were "some of the best" he's ever had - I am not usually a fan of pancakes, but I tried a little and these were truly amazing. Fluffy, with good density, perfect sized hotcakes.
I got the peeky toe crab hash, as I was craving more potato product. The egg was just as I like it -poached, so when I pierced the yolk, it ran all over the crab and potato, and made an amazing mess....almost BEAUTIFUL, yes I said it. This was filling, and really satisfied many of my cravings for something decadent.

Joe's is a great place to go to. I have no complaints, and hope this place stays around for awhile.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lou Mitchell's
565 W. Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL

Part 1, working backwards from a trip to Chicago I had in November. I am catching up! So, before getting laid off, musings about going to Chicago were being thrown back and forth between me and my friend Brian. We decided to go for it - why not, right?

I admit, I got some great deals for the trip - a great discounted rate at the Palmer House Hilton (courtesy of, which was exactly what we wanted - a hotel in the Loop, close to everything we wanted to see, and almost as cheap as our other option of staying at a hostel! And what history - I found out that this hotel was the birthplace of the brownie. THE BROWNIE. That's no small feat!

I know I'm being a bit scatterbrained but I'm going to blog about our last meal of the trip - at the famous Lou Mitchell's. This is a great place to eat. Great "diner" feel. You walk in, they tell you to grab a donut hole and follow the hostess. The donut hole was AWESOME, by the way - freshly fried, perfect nugget of fried dough. On the way to your seat, there's a visual representation of how they brew their coffee - which has won a lot of acclaim over the years (so I hear.) As we were seated, the hostess plunks a box of milk duds on my part of the table.

Why? I have no idea. I mean, it wasn't Halloween. And she specifically denied Brian a box. What gives? Tradition, supposedly. Check it out.
So after all the hype about the coffee, I had to have some. And I admit, it was some smoooooth coffee. No bitterness at all. And they were super diligent about refills - someone would always come by with a new pot of coffee every so often. Props to them.
After we made our order, our saucy waitress (extra on the sauce!) slid a little bowl, with an orange slice and a stewed prune. I ate the orange slice immediately (can't resist - I love me some oranges, especially after a big chinese I'll take my orange slices whenever I can get them)...and took a small bite of the stewed prune. It was very cinnamon-y - good, but not really to my liking. Brian finished off what I left behind (don't waste food...right?!)
The famous maple syrup. We didn't get anything that needed syrup, but Brian, ever the curious, poured a teaspoon full and had it on its' was good, of course.

This was Brian's omelet, which was an interesting combo - apples and cheese. I apologize for the blurriness of the picture. He really liked it - I mean, it's a classic combo but I would never think to eat something like this for breakfast. I loved how this was served in an aluminum just added to the hominess of the whole thing.
Another blurry picture, but of my rye toast. This was delicious toast - they bake the bread there, in house!! Soooo awesome. They butter your toast here, so it's extra buttery bad for you goodness. Brian was massively jealous of my choice of bread.

And now here's my dish - a salami and cheese omelet. The potato factor in this dish was something to be desired - I prefer the shredded amazingness of hash browns, with extra crisp. These potatoes were on the not really done side of potato, but I ate them anyways.

This place had a great kitchy feel. If I'm back in Chicago sometime, I will return!