A missed connection last week quickly turned into a brunch at Joe's Restaurant, a Cal-French eat on Abbot Kinney I've been meaning to try for well before its slew of rave reviews from the critics since '07, though have always been distracted by Jin Patisserie or 3 Square in the past. After finding out that my morning meeting in Venice got re-scheduled, I seized the moment and took an hour walk along the beach and Abbot Kinney before plopping myself at Joe's right when they opened.
The brunch is slightly pricier than what I would normally pay, but it is a two-course affair and bread service too so worth the extra price - with a homemade strawberry-rhubarb compote and banana-walnut bread that really hits the spot.
The starter I chose was a seasonal fruit plate with a honey yogurt sauce. Rather than the long-lasting and overdone melons and pineapples, I got a pretty and tasty plate of apples, citrus and berries. The yogurt had just a tinge of honey but worked well with the fruits.
Then came the main: pork belly confit, Shaner Farms organic eggs on top of brioche, tomato-bacon jam and a side of avocado mousse. I can already tell when this was served that it was going to be a treat, and that it was. The belly, with it's stratified layers of muscle and fat, was a wonderful combination of richness and meatiness (though towards the end was a little too fatty for me). The mousse was light yet buttery, and the tomato-bacon jam reminded me of a smoky, sweet barbecue sauce. But what really made this dish were those luscious suny-side-up eggs, totally like ones I read about in the Omnivore's Dilemma, these were vibrantly colorful and equally tasty, spreading across my tongue like rich luscious silk. These are eggs a hen (and the farmers) would be proud of producing!
Consideraby less successful was the cocktail I ordered, Lady Stardust made with Grey Goose La Poire vodka, citrus and bubbles. I was wondering whether the fizz came from soda water or sparkling wine but that turned out to be a moot point since there were no bubbles at all. Nonetheless, I could've overlooked that since the drink was pretty light regardless, but it also tasted pretty gnarly, like I'm drinking juicy fruit gum. Maybe the pear and citrus combo just doesn't work that well, and so I'll add a corollary to the "you can't compare apples to oranges" saying: you probably shouldn't mix them together either.
The drink aside, this little meal was surely a hit. $11-18 for brunch isn't bad considering I've paid more (and tasted worse) for brunch before (the $10-12 cocktail is another story...) But in short, I can't wait to return again to try their other brunch specialties (the Maine peeky-toe crab hash and their house granola with spiced milk sounds intriguing) or for dinner.
What Do Others Say?
Food Destination thought it was nice, but lacked the finesse to be a Michelin-starred
Triplecreme called the greatest lunch deal in town (something I can never make unless I take a weekday off)
The Delicious Life had it on the "Dine: Again and Again" list
KevinEats thought it provided great food in a casual setting, but like me, didn't care for the cocktail
Jonah from LA.Foodblogging consider Joe's one of his favorite spots
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd