Thursday, April 5, 2012 0

Jojo's ~New York

By FaFoFi in , , , , ,


That awkward moment when you enter a fine dining restaurant and you're the youngest ones there. HURGH. I had arranged this "weekend New York" trip last minute and my boyfriend, my sister and I were all a bit stressed into trying to accommodate myriad list of things that we wanted to do together. However one thing was certain, we had to have a fancy meal. Originally my sister tried to make a reservation at Thomas Keller's, but as you can imagine they were fully booked for like three weeks ahead. As an alternative my father suggested a "French Bistro" type restaurant called Jojo's.


The overall restaurant had a quiet, cozy ambiance and for some reason it kind of reminded me of one of the more demure rooms that I saw in Versailles when I was little (Of course, not that there were many demure rooms in Versailles...). Lots of quilted furniture, heavy drapery, and patterned wall paper. The service staff was small, efficient and polite. They weren't very friendly, but instead gave the impression of a "well oiled restaurant machine." However, I really do feel that our young age had a significant impact on the way that the staff treated us. I can't complain about service or anything else...but the staff didn't go above and beyond normal service. They were sharp and efficient...like cold, French Bordello robots. I think that the three of us were having too much fun to mind though.

The only truly embarrassing incident that happened during this involved the height of my boyfriend. My boyfriend is the ideal man, tall, dark and handsome with a dash of polite and charming to boot. I excused myself to go to the ladies room and he stood up to let me out. Unfortunately, his shoulder bumped to a hanging wooden candle holder on the wall and knocked off the glass candle. My sister and I watched in slow motion horror as we saw the candle falling to the ground and were bracing ourselves for the eventual crash of broken glass and splatter of hot wax. This didn't happen. My boyfriend is Spiderman. He had caught the candle single handed with the candle wick still burning. I was amazed. UTTERLY MESMERIZED. He gingerly placed the candle back on its stand and everything was back to normal. Then the wire suspending the whole contraption snapped, the stand fell down, the candle shattered and hot wax went everywhere. =__=

ONTO THE MEAL:
Calamari pickled chili peppers with a lemon rosemary dipping sauce
This is what my lovely boyfriend ordered. He didn't like the set meal that my sister and I had decided to order and instead just got an appetizer and a main. I didn't want to hog all of his appetizer, but it was quite good. Fried calamari is sort of a common item in restaurants, but it can be difficult to execute well. The calamari inside was tender and not at all rubbery, while the outside was crisp, hot and had a savory mix of spices. When dipped into the lemon rosemary sauce, the acid cut through the oiliness that makes you sick from eating too much fried food. The sauce was also creamy and reminiscent of a mayonnaise or an aioli. I think everyone knows the perfect pairing of anything fried and mayonnaise. ;) A great choice of appetizer for people who love calamari.

Tuna Roll with Soybean Emulsion
My sister and I ordered the "omnivore" styled set menu, where there seemed to be more of an emphasis on viands. As for you vegetarians out there, you needn't worry! There was also a menu designed for herbivores. ;)

This was the first appetizer on the "Viand Winter Menu." The tuna was rolled within a flaky wrap, that I assume was gluten free, and I'm moderately certain it was made from soy. Underneath the wrapper there was another layer of a leafed vegetable, probably cabbage, before getting to the fresh firm tuna. This whole thing seemed like a bit of a deconstructivist inspired sushi roll. The brown sauce on the plate was soy sauce, while the soy bean emulsion above served as wasabi. As my sister is gluten intolerant, the chef didn't include the "soy sauce" on her plate.

Honestly, I didn't like this appetizer very much and it was a bit difficult to get through. I prefer my raw fish sliced more thinly and not as large chunks in a sushi roll. I felt that the tuna here, although it was fresh and not fishy, it was a bit too much to handle chunked up raw. Texture and taste wise the tuna completely dominated this appetizer and after the first two pieces I was just...sick. It didn't even taste like the delicious fresh tuna anymore, it was just the firm, cold texture of raw fish. If anything, I would switch out this appetizer with the butternut squash soup.

Salmon slowly baked truffled mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, truffle vinaigrette
Although I was generally unhappy with the placement of a fish dish right after another fish dish I preferred this dish to the former. I loved, L-O-V-E-D this dish! The salmon was tender, moist, and juicy. The chef had slowly baked it in a way that left the middle still subtlety raw looking. It's, so, so, so good. The salmon's already strong flavor didn't clash with the truffle sauce, but needed it instead. The oily, powerful flavor of the salmon reacted well to the acidity and richness from the truffles and the mashed potatoes, while the brussels sprouts served as nice fresh foil against the background of salmon. The brussel sprouts were tender and not overcooked, while the mashed potatoes were creamy, buttery, and cloud-like. =) Honestly, my favorite part about this whole dish was the truffle vinaigrette...I wish they gave you more. I used all the vinaigrette up only partially done eating it. =( I suck. I'm terrible at food ratios. I eat all of one thing (that needs to be paired with something else) or use up all the sauce...

Venison Poire Au Lard with savoy cabbage, pomegranate, fingerling potatoes

Honestly, I was quite full at this point and I was ready to puke. The tasting menu didn't seem to have adjusted any of their portions and it was like three full course sized items. Which is good if you have a big appetite...but as I said before...I was ready to roll over and hibernate the meal off. 

Everything on the dish was exquisitely done and the venison itself was tender and delicious. I feel like the cabbage, potatoes, and venison were components of a rich, stew and the pomegranate seeds were meant to cut through the thick oiliness of the rest of the dish...but the quantity of seeds were too little to make a difference for me. I am also weird and cannot eat pomegranate seeds. I enjoy eating the fruit, pomegranate flavored things, and pomegranate juice, but I have this terrible habit where I just eat the flesh around the seed and spit it out. It's disgusting and time consuming, I know, but I wish there was a stronger pomegranate sauce (or even just some squeezed pomegranate juice) that accompanied the pomegranate seeds. I just feel like that would have been more effective in cutting the richness and the oil within the dish. The dish was overwhelmingly rich and slightly oily and I wasn't prepared to consume another whole dish after the salmon.
Lamb Baeckoffe stewed with potatoes and Alsatian Wine 
This is what my lovely boyfriend ordered. I believe this  is a seasonal "stew" and Jojo's uses the freshest seasonally available ingredients to make these little delicious stews in these cute terra cotta casseroles. I know that this was the most popular item on the menu that night, almost every table was laden with terra cotta casseroles. I also think that the delicious odors that we smelled upon walking in the restaurant emanated almost completely from these hand painted artisanal terra cotta vessels.

Boyfriend wanted to take the pictures so its understandably blurry. =P
I think he was so hungry that he was shaking. He gave me a bite, but I was so full from my attempt to eat the venison I just left it on the plate...I regret it now. This stew was lovingly made with yukon gold potatoes, lamb shoulder, onions, carrots, parsley and Riesling. The boyfriend absolutely loved it, it was rich, delicious and he ate all of it by himself. The ratio of vegetables to meat was exactly perfect...and it was just angels singing. According to boyfriend. At least. Since he ate it all. I'm so jealous. WHY. WHY WAS I SO FULL.

Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream 
Unfortunately, I have a second stomach for desserts and I wasn't too full to eat this one myself. =___= This was heavenly. Like the rest of Jojo's foods the cake was a simple in idea, but masterfully created. It was a plain chocolate lava cake that was silky, sumptuous and bittersweet. The outside was a firm crust of chocolate cake, but when you broke through the outer layer with your spoon it was like a roll of silk spilling all over the floor. It was a slightly messy, wonderfully gooey, and indulgent dessert. The chocolate cake paired with the vanilla ice cream perfectly. I think there's a fine line between "delicious dark chocolate" and "dark chocolate that's so dark it coats your tongue and top of your mouth in cacao powder" dark chocolate. Thank fully this was the former. =) The portion size was just right.

Butterscotch Pudding with some Creme Fraiche 
I tasted boyfriend's dessert after my super rich chocolate cake, so I didn't really get to taste the nuances of the delicate butterscotch pudding. Like the lamb stew above, I had to completely rely on boyfriend's expansive vocabulary to describe this one. I dutifully asked boyfriend to describe the dessert that he loved so much to me and he responded, and I quote, "Good". ^__^ I don't think he likes sweets very much, but you could tell that he was really indulging himself in the Butterscotch Pudding. =)

Trio of Sorbets
This was my sister's gluten free dessert and it was everything sorbet should be. Refreshing, cold, fresh, and fruity. I really like sorbet, but I feel like if you're having a decadent dinner that's winding its way down with dessert, the sorbet should be prepared with something versus just being the "star." She didn't have any complaints though and she liked the dainty chocolate truffles that came with her dessert as well.

Ultimately, Jojo's is good. They are efficient, consistent, and delicious. The atmosphere is cozy and romantic, but the service and the cuisine is just consistently spot on. I definitely think our party's age affected how the waiters and waitresses served us, but they were super duper efficient to make up for their "coldness." Every dish we had there was perfectly executed and well done. The dishes aren't too complicated in theory, but easy to mess up. The fact that each dish was so consistent and well done is just solid proof that Jojo's is just some solid eats. Just to reiterate, the only thing that made me a bit unhappy was again the portioning of the tasting menu and the first appetizer that was brought out. I think they were relatively minor things when you add up the "whole" of the meal. I can happily recommend Jojo's if you ever go to New York, but please don't knock over any candles! 

Price: $$$ out of $$$$$
Kid Friendly: I did see kids there, but the atmosphere was definitely more "adult."
Repeatability: Yes! =D


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