Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard will celebrate 17 years of serving some of the finest French-Californian cuisine available to Westside diners on September 17. Those familiar with this Venice gem know that chef and owner Joseph Miller has created one of the most respected houses of haute cuisine to be found west of Bretagne and east of Alsace, and with good reason too.
Running a great restaurant requires all the pieces to meld together with the precision of a jigsaw puzzle and the hand of an artisan, and this has been artfully accomplished at Joe’s, delivering a dining experience that, dollar for dollar, is second to none.
The Sunday brunch menu was thoughtful, creative and balanced with appealing dishes, and my dining companion and I had no problem at all in making our choices, until our professional and courteous server, Izak, mentioned the “special-of-the-day,” an untitled plate that I shall call The Seafood Mélange.
A maritime medley of sand dab, salmon and shrimp with delicately roasted potatoes and spinach, all coated with a light lemon-butter sauce, this recipe proved an enticing suggestion for my dining companion, who duly ordered it.
My choice was the House Smoked Red Trout with poached eggs, dill and onion toast, dill hollandaise and trout caviar, $14.00.
The brunch offerings include a starter choice of salad or chilled carrot soup. Suffice to say, both the chilled soup and salad were top notch, with the soup teasing my taste buds with a feather-light quality, and the salad being a dainty serenade of lettuce, watercress, corn, bacon bits and sliced radish dressed with a light vinaigrette dressing. Superb.
Our main courses were majestic, with a perfect presentation of sensibly sized portions embracing clearly the freshest of ingredients. The beautifully cut trout was tender, very tasty and, crowned with two delightfully poached eggs and homemade dill hollandaise topped with salty trout caviar, needed no further adornment.
I sampled my dining companion’s “special” and was also much impressed. It would be nice to see that as an addition to the regular brunch menu; it was fresh, well proportioned and also very well presented. Both of these dishes came with fresh baked bread in the form of toasted brioche and a divine banana-walnut bread, served with whipped butter and home-prepared strawberry jam.
When Izak presented us with the dessert menu all caution was thrown to the wind, and we ordered the Chocolate Crunch Cake (with hazelnut praline and vanilla ice cream, $5.00) and Chilled Rhubarb Soup with Strawberries Bread Pudding, $5.00.
Both of these desserts were generous and luscious, with a particular fondness being shared by us for the Chocolate Crunch Cake that, with its mousse-like quality and hazelnut praline, was rich but not heavy. The perfect finale to a consummate mid-day feast.
With everything so well managed at Joe’s (even the glasses are presented as an attractive adornment in the rustic contemporary room), I was intrigued as to the secrets of success at Joe’s and emailed Chef Joseph in order to touch upon the thinking behind the success.
Chef Joseph shared that one of the most challenging aspects of running a great restaurant “is keeping everyone engaged, staff and guests alike,” and he alluded to the fact that it can be difficult to get good staff members these days with “so many unprofessional people in the work force.”
Chef Joseph also said that his culinary inspiration comes from Spain and France because of their “professionalism and love for the business, and the combinations of food they prepare.”
With a belief in interacting with guests in order to get the feel for what people like and want to eat, Chef Joseph keeps his menu fresh and original “by looking outside of our city, to New York and Europe to find different combinations and presentations.”
Joe’s Restaurant is certainly a model of what a great restaurant should be, and, with its relaxing and bright ambience, splendid food and friendly, efficient service, I shall raise a glass and say, unreservedly, a very happy 17th birthday to Joe’s.
Joe’s Restaurant, 1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, 310.399.5811.