Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar
34 King Street
We recently had the pleasure of dining in the company of the lovely crew at Joe’s Kitchen on day two of the restaurant’s new incarnation (having shed its Tex-Mex roots and undergone a total refurbishment). The fact that we were also celebrating the first WeTryKai family dinner made the occasion all the more emotional. We were greeted by the ever-friendly Jan, who was top notch to say the least. Despite being only the second night, the wait staff seemed to be on form and had a thorough knowledge of the menu. Needless to say, we ate. A lot.
The starters kicked things off well, with Jalapeño poppers (crisp and piquant), BBQ chicken wings (sticky and sweet) and the beef chilli (rich with just the right amount of heat) topping the standings. We were divided on the Spinach and Artichoke dip (not cheesy enough for my blood) but we agreed the popcorn shrimp were a little disappointing (a little soggy with too much chew).
The main event though was a dream: The beer can chicken reminded us all why we try and fail to replicate this dish each and every summer. Joe’s own BBQ and hot sauces were a perfect accompaniment – our attempts to buy a few bottles were met with a friendly rebuff (one day?). The Southern Fried chicken was proclaimed “the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten!” by one of our party. I’d struggle to make a case against it – moist and fresh on the inside and with a delicious crispy coating out. I’ll be coming back for more (though with that kind of taste, the menu’s claims that it is “healthier” defy credulity). The “Chicken Under a Brick” was as novel as it was mouthwatering though we didn’t notice any difference in taste from a chicken roasted the conventional way. One of our diners ordered the Mac and Cheese as a main, and this was one of the few items that failed to hit the same heights as the rest of the meal. As a dish, it felt a bit lacking, its flavour paling in comparison to those around it – maybe it needs a stronger cheese?
We rounded the main out with a few sides, which were consistent in their quality. A shout out to the bacon salt, which provided just enough difference to make the addition worthwhile. The corn bread muffins were stellar, and despite carb overload, I found myself finishing off most of someone else’s portion (sorry) (KS: You’re forgiven Bren…).
In defiance of our straining belts, we doubled down on desserts. We were disappointed to hear that we had just missed the last of the Oreo cheesecake (another time), but were quickly calmed by the promise of Pecan Pie and Key Lime Crumble. Both were great, but the crumble was sublime.
A meal wouldn’t be complete without refreshments and we relied on Joe’s to come through on the cocktails and boy were they good. Head over to T’s thoughts in the “View of the Booze (Hag)” section.
Let me be clear, Joe’s makeover has been a success. The place looks great, the food was excellent and we’ll no doubt be going back for more. On a quirky note, check out the soundtrack in the bathroom. I stayed longer than I should listening to some Southern character instructing me on the dos and don’ts of southern vernacular.