Thursday, July 9, 2015

I never thought I'd write this post

Spa Cosmo - with freshly squeezed juices
That title is such clickbait! But no really, I never thought I'd write this post - partly because I'm a horrible procrastinator and it reached a point where I thought I may never write it (was waiting for "the perfect time") and also because it's about to say nice things about a chain restaurant, and not just because they fed me. Although, to be fair, if they hadn't offered to feed me I probably never would have gone there again.

What mysterious chain am I talking about? Well, JOEY.

Blueberry Mojito
I had been there a couple times before, always to the Polo Park location, once shortly after it opened for dinner where the service wasn't great and my cashew-something-or-rather failed to have cashews in it, and then a few times for drinks and appies. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't generally rushing back there. Then they invited me to come and try their new summer menu. Admittedly, I was just in for the free food as my stance on such invites is that free ___________ does not equate a glowing blog post. It may get praise, silence, or, if whatever you've given me is truly horrid, it may get a scathing review.

Well, colour me surprised.

Other than the negative first impression of a half naked hostess leading me into their light filled indoor/outdoor patio space, I really truly enjoyed myself. Having spent the last mutters something unintelligible years working in chain restaurants, I'm generally a little cynical. Many just do not so creative things with standard ingredients from suppliers like Sysco. Even if I choose to believe only a portion of the pro-Joey propaganda that we were fed on the side, no one can argue with the sheer amount of things that are fresh squeezed, baked or portioned. Just like at your favourite local foodie haunt, it in theory is possible that JOEY could run out of a best-seller one dinner service because of demand. 
Mezze Plate

They allowed us to try all of the items on their new summer menu, including the Mezze Plate which reminded me of my travels to Europe and Korean Fried Cauliflower, which has a sweet chili sauce component that I'm a sucker for. Giving us their Spa Cosmo and Blueberry Mojito to try was also a nice touch!

THAT. That is a watermelon radish!

Lobster and Prawn Ravioli
Sliders Royale

The 500 Salad made me want to find watermelon radish and put it as a garnish on everything I make. The salad, which has wheat berry, (whatever that is), was also really great. A skeptical seafood eater, I really enjoyed the Lobster and Prawn Ravioli (lobster packed ravioli, white wine cream sauce, topped with grilled prawns, and fresh dill) although you might want to plan to eat that on a gym day to ease the guilt of such a decadent comfort food!

Other dishes we got to try were the Sliders Royale, Roti Chicken Club and all three of their desserts: Key Lime Pie, Baked to order Apple Pie and Molten Lava Chocolate Souffle.

So again, colour me surprised, but JOEY Restaurants really truly does seem to be passionate about food and perhaps my dislike of chain restaurants needs to change... a smidge. It's like hating a band because they play an arena instead of a smoky dive bar - maybe *some* of the chains have gotten where they are because of dedication and passion for what they do. Although, someone still needs to put some clothes on the female staff.
Key Lime and Apple pies