Joey’s Kitchen, Watson: Review

Mothy 30 April 2012

Disclosure: Reviewer is a paid RiotAct subscriber, and as luck would have it was therefore eligible for a draw to win a $100 voucher to dine at Joey’s Kitchen. Many thanks to current and former RiotAct staff, Tim and Rachel, for helping me out with re-emailing that voucher, after I failed to print it the first time around and didn’t think to look for it again until Saturday after I had made the booking! Above and beyond the call there folks, top stuff.

Saturday night I had the good fortune to dine at Joey’s Kitchen, in Watson.

As a hastily arranged night out, we didn’t organize a babysitter. We invited along another couple of recent parents, and the four of us headed off for an early meal with kids in tow (11 months and 15 months) . Joey’s were very accommodating, having put out the high chairs on request at booking.

We were relieved not to be complete social pariahs and to see the table next to us also toting a munchkin of approximately 2.5 years or less (also accommodated in a booster seat). We were even more pleasantly surprised when the staff then brought to that table a big basket of kids toys, agreeing this set a new high water-mark in our books for the definition of family friendly. Our 15 month old toddled over there between courses to compare notes on the toys – her review to follow once we teach her to type and the basics of posting to a blog (don’t feed the trolls, etc etc).

Having been to the place in it’s previous guise as Carlos (once a favorite haunt of my fellow employees before our office relocated), I was surprised at how much the place had been opened up by moving the bar from the center of the room to one side – it certainly felt roomier. I vaguely remember Carlo’s being blue and feeling dark out the back – the place is now a nice burgundy red color, all very warm and inviting, and the kitchen watched out over all through a large open window space. I’m still not sure how these arrangements work: Whether it is the kitchen or the dining space that is outside the fishbowl, looking in on the other. Am sure it works both ways through the night.

I’d read through the menu online, to get an idea what we were in for, but come decision time was still left umming and ahhing over a couple of options. For the price watchers, Entree’s are $16.50-$18.50. My wife and I did the usual – picking two we could agree on and switching at half time – so the Fontina Risotto and the Pumpkin and Fetta Cannelloni it was.

I started on the Risotto and let me tell you now, handing it over was done very reluctantly, for it was divine! It just melted in your mouth, as far a cry from the stodge I turn Risotto into at home as you could get. The sweetness of the sweet potato and caramelized onion were fantastic. Judging by the happy calls for “more, more” from our daughter, it was a hit with her too.

The Cannelloni suffered by comparison to the Risotto – where the Risotto felt like a nice balance of complimenting flavors, the Cannelloni was in a sauce that overpowered the rest – tasting to my mind like red capsicum, but the menu calls this a chive and cherry tomato salsa in burnt butter sauce. My wife tut tutted my criticism, saying she hadn’t found that at all and quite enjoyed it. But she didn’t give back that Risotto…

The other end of the table had also selected a Risotto and the Mixed Tapas plate, the latter of which looked had generous number of elements to it. It was later remarked that he who had ordered it had thought about sharing, but on tasting had decided that to be a silly idea. He pointed to an empty bowl on the plate: “see that, that was a dip, I didn’t know what it would go with… it went with everything”.

For mains, a note: Don’t ignore the side dishes ($7.50-$9.50). Between the four of us we placed a bowl of the Sesame Roasted Kipfler Potatoes (utterly gorgeous with the Aioli), and another of the Roasted Sweet Potato. Dear wife rightly had to smack my hand away from overindulging on this latter dish. You might be picking up on a couple of themes here: I like my food, and I don’t share well. Guilty as charged.

On mains ($26-39), without consultation both we and our accompanying couple ordered the same pair of dishes: the Lamb Rump for the boys, the Roasted Stuffed Chicken Breast for the girls. I did manage to get a taste of the chicken, and it was lovely – moist chicken stuffed with sweet roasted red capsicum. Yummo. It was served on a sauteed mix of mushrooms, peas and spinach.

The Lamb Rump was well cooked, and best enjoyed in forkfulls laden with its accompaniments: below, a very sweet bed of eggplant and parsley pickle, and above, the saltyness of the goats cheese. On their own, each of these would overpower the subtle flavor of the lamb. Together, Excellent.

Unfortunately, and despite the significant pulling power of the offered “warm dessert” that did not appear on the menu, a sticky date pudding with vanilla bean ice cream, it was at this point we decided we’d pushed our luck far enough, with the kids not yet screaming and throwing themselves on the floor, and decided we’d call it a night and head home to administer bottles. Sorry folks, no dessert review. An incomplete work, I know.

Four adults well fed on entree, mains and side plates, $240 (with $40 of that being drinks).

I think the best summary came from my wife, about two mouthfuls into her mains: “Now that we know the food is good, we’re getting a babysitter, and we’re coming back”.

Oh yes indeedy, we’ll be back.

Probably for breakfast..

This weekend..?

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