If you had told me even a year ago that I would make a trip to Lansdowne Park specifically to eat, I likely would have laughed. Or at least smirked. Little did I know that the arrival of JOEY would change my tune.
I attended a preview night and have to say that JOEY knocks it out of the park, quite literally. I am always a bit apprehensive of chain restaurants, although several recent visits to Nordstrom's Bazille have done much to change my preconceived notions.
In the case of JOEY, having Chris Mills, a top notch executive chef, at the helm is clearly making a huge impact on the company's culinary operations. A carefully developed, well-executed menu is diverse and sublimely flavourful. But first, the venue - it's a sleek yet comfortable space, filled with wood, brick and artfully chosen antique elements that are pleasing conversation pieces.
One of the highlights of a visit to JOEY is the remarkable sightlines. Huge windows overlook the cobblestones of Exhibition Way, with sightlines to the Aberdeen Pavillion and TD Place Arena. The kitchen is fully visible from indoors and out, and it is a veritable hive of activity. The open bar area, complete with its fresh juicing stand and made-to-order ice cream station are feature elements, expertly staffed, as is the whole restaurant, by cheerful, competent servers.
As for the food, the dishes I tasted were all very impressive. Standouts were the sushi cones - fresh, colourful and bursting with flavour. The pesto shrimp flatbread and tandoori chicken flatbread were expertly seasoned and the sliders encompassed all that a burger should be: soft bun, juicy pat, oodles of cheese and delicious sauce. The lobster grilled cheese was another standout, as was the perfectly balanced paella.
The vibe at JOEY is energetic and casual - perfect for date night or game night. I am looking forward to going back and sampling more of the menu.