Seems like lately there isn’t a lot of new stuff opening which has been kind of bumming me out so I was excited to try Chef Joseph’s which is pretty new. When I went, with the BFF, they were still only serving lunch, but since then I have heard they have added dinner service to their menu a few days a week. When you walk in, it is hard to imagine why they would not serve dinner, as it is an extremely upscale dining room—white tablecloths, lots of dark wood. Feels much more in line for dinner to me than lunch. Although to be fair, they are catering to a business lunch crowd according to their menu. I just hope this doesn’t scare people off because it is worth checking out, even if you’re wearing jeans, like I was.
The menu is interesting—several small plates, some salads, soup, sandwiches and a few entrées. Of course, as soon as I see small plates, my interest is piqued. Not to mention, nearly every single small plate sounded good to me (and also sounded like the most interesting items). We decided to splurge and start with a plate of the housemade potato chips that were served with spicy aioli on the side ($4.95). These were really good—nice and fresh, and just the right thickness that weren’t too thin or too fat. I don’t like them when they are too fat and sometimes seem a little chewy, but if they are too thin, it’s impossible to scoop up the dip. They were just right and had just the right amount of salt too. The spicy aioli tasted very good—it had a lot of flavor, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly spicy in a “hot” way. But it was very enjoyable. I ate way too many of them and would easily order them again.
So for the rest of my lunch I decided to order another small plate, the bacon and Cambozola quesadilla ($8.95) and the spinach salad ($8.95) (what? I couldn’t make up my mind). If you aren’t familiar with Cambozola, it’s a cheese that is a mix of a mild Camembert-ish cheese and Gorgonzola. I went through a period in California where I was a little obsessed with it. There was this restaurant that made a Cambozola fondue that was amazing to dip fruit in. We used to get it for dessert. Anyway, I digress, but I loved the flavor of it in the quesadilla, especially with the smoky, salty bacon and the pico de gallo on top that was made with pear—giving it just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the blue cheese flavor. The downside of it, and I have discovered this myself when trying to re-create the above mentioned Cambozola fondue, is that it isn’t a great smooth melting cheese. It separates a little funny, producing a bit of oiliness that detracted a bit from the quesadilla. I still ate it all. And like I said, the flavors were perfect together--too bad it was just a little greasy.
The spinach salad was fine, although not as interesting as the other things. I ordered it because I felt like I really needed something remotely healthy, and it had some of my favorite things—avocado, orange and red onions. It was one of those salads where all the parts were very disconnected (although a lovely presentation) and I prefer a mixed up, tossed salad incorporating bite sized pieces of things. The herbed balsamic vinaigrette was lighter than many, and I really enjoyed the flavor of it, but it was just drizzled across the top, and I would have preferred a little more of it (or like I said, for the salad to be tossed in it). Very fresh ingredients, but just not really exciting. My friend also had a salad (a different one) and thought it was kind of boring as well. She did enjoy her lamb stew though (technically listed as a soup of the day, but much more like a stew).
Because there are so many things I would like to try on the menu (and it changes fairly frequently—every 2 weeks I think), I look forward to going back for dinner one of these nights with hubby—I tend to eat a bigger dinner, and it will be easier to try more things. I do want to mention the service though because it was great. Our server was really nice and right there when we needed him. (The only annoying part being that the restaurant has their servers taking orders on an Ipod touch, which went slowly--by the time he got it to do what he wanted, he could have written it down like 4 times). It wasn’t overly busy, which is too bad, but which again makes me wonder if they are scaring people away with the focus on “business lunches.” Because honestly, it is just really nice restaurant with some tasty food. Yes, you could impress a client there, but you can also enjoy a casual lunch with a friend and still get treated just as well.
115 East Ohio Street