Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Comfort Fish at Joe's

There are all kinds of comfort food. There’s the kind that mothers make rooted in deep hometown traditions that taste best served from hearty casseroles in heavy bowls with ingredients likely to induce heart attacks. There’s the kind that is super elevated in a gourmet version like the coconut mushroom soup with sweetbreads at Hatfield’s in Los Angeles. And then there’s the in between kind that surprises you in its creativity and ingredients served in homey settings that just make you feel belly warmed and content.

To me, that middle kind is the reason I love Joe’s on Abbot Kinney. It was the first restaurant I ate at in Venice Beach over a year ago when I first moved here when my friend Michael Childers treated me to their luscious shrimp and grits breakfast. Everything from the bread plate to the condiments to the homemade charcuterie to the actual breakfast dish came surrounded by the early morning beach light streaming through the windows of this neighborhood joint that felt more like somebody’s beachside bungalow home. I have been itching to get back ever since and was thrilled to revisit it with the Cute Gardener last week.

It didn’t disappoint. We had originally wanted to go for the promise of Friday night jazz but when that was replaced on the calendar with the presence of the oyster man, we were still pleased. As we sat amidst a bustling low lit dining room filled with a nice variety of guests who seemed to all be there for the same casual yet elegant homey experience, we ate two forms of the fruits of the sea from Washington and British Columbia. One was funky and deep which the CG loved and my favorite was the brinier, clean and meaty nugget.

To further indulge my cozy meal by the sea mood, I ordered the coconut-encrusted cod cheek, which came large and luscious on top of swiss chard and coconut lime sauce with spots of uni.  

The CG’s salmon and tuna tartare crostini plate was light and classy with the fish perfectly room temperature and melting on the mouth like butter.  

My main of fried monkfish was a puffy textural delight served with nice vegetables and small pumpkin gnocchi dumplings that slightly spiced the tongue with fall flavors.
The CG’s jidori chicken was the hit of the evening, something we both had eyed on the menu for the addition of nicely al dente chestnut agnolotti; a combination that was perfectly fibrous and contrasting to the sweet chicken meat cooked exquisitely. A black kale pulled the dish together. The combination of flavors made this usually average meat the star of the night.
For dessert, we indulged in the special pumpkin trifle which was an adorably presented dish layered in a mason jar of pure, non-sweetened pumpkin puree, soft chocolate cookie crumbles, ice cream and a piece of pumpkin brittle. Sometimes I do weird things like pour coconut milk straight from a can into a small bowl and spoon honey over the top. This dessert gave me ideas in doing similar things with pure pumpkin puree.

We were so pleased with our meal we even stopped to say hello and give our praise to Christophe Happillon from Oyster Gourmet and learn about his pop up oyster company that roams the high-end restaurants in the area. We had a hunch he was the same person who we had seen at another Venice haunt Larry’s by the Sea one evening and we were right.

This was the most satisfying meal I have had since Il Fico, home of my favorite pastas in Los Angeles, and I know that it’s a place I will return to time and again because of the consistently good food and the menu that changes according to season.

No comments:

Post a Comment