Print Edition: September 25, 2013
My friend and I seated ourselves at a corner booth and were pleased with prompt service.
After a brief look at the drink menu, we decided on margaritas – one lime and one raspberry. We were forewarned that the lime margarita would be tart. It was at first, but after a few sips I came to appreciate it. However, I think what the drink was really lacking was salt which to me has always been the make-or-breaker of the margarita. The raspberry was good, but not remarkably so.
We took our time with the menus, which featured a number of tasty-looking options. My friend decided to have the beef dip with a side of deviled egg potato salad and a side caesar. I opted for the five cheese tortellini with grilled chicken and garlic toast, and we decided to split the bruschetta.
Original Joe’s does have a gluten-ensitive menu available; however, they do note that some items (such as fries, wings, and ribs) are cooked in a deep fryer which may contain gluten, and the restaurant is not a gluten-free facility. Also, my friend noticed that this menu, separate from the main menu, does not include prices. We were later informed by our server that there is a surcharge for most items from the gluten-sensitive menu, but these were not listed. Also, gluten-free pasta was not available.
While we waited for the food, we had a chance to chat and observe the atmosphere. I appreciated that most of the seats in the restaurant were comfortable booths, and our spot by the large windows ensured a warm glow of sunlight. The brick-like detailing on the back wall and exposed red ductwork in the high ceiling gave the restaurant an open and urban feel.
Our meals looked delicious. The baguette piled with beef, mushrooms, onions, and melted swiss cheese was almost too big for my friend to pick up, let alone dip in au jus and eat. The pasta looked equally delicious framed by the two wedges of garlic toast.
The whole wheat tortellini was a taste bud pleaser, stuffed with five cheeses as promised. The grilled chicken was perfect. I expected the cream sauce to be creamier, and while it wasn’t a poor combination of flavours, the dish might have been more successful with a creamy garlic sauce rather than tomato-based.
My friend loved the beef dip, saying, “it’s all in the sauce, and the sauce was amazing.”
The bruschetta was the highlight of my dining experience at Original Joe’s. The near-sweet bite of red onion paired with notes of balsamic vinegar made a perfect harmony with the fresh tomatoes, and the house-made starter was topped with shaved parmesan and served alongside crostini covered in mozzarella.
The prices of food are moderate to high for the student budget, most items ranging between $11 and $16 with the exceptions of steak, ribs, and salmon. However there are a number of specials: for example a seven ounce steak and prawns with two sides is $17.75 on Friday, rather than the regular price of $29 (the prawn skewer adds $4 to the $25 steak). Glasses of wine are discounted on Thursday, and bottles of wine are offered at half price. Pints run between $5.50 and $7.75.
Also, keep in mind that we entered the restaurant starving and neither of us was able to finish our plate – so we got two meals out of the overall price of food. We were, however, disappointed that we didn’t have room for dessert, as Original Joe’s offers crème brulée.
Overall, Original Joe’s was a good casual dining experience. Service was consistently good, staff members were friendly and helpful, and the food was very good. I’m eager to try more of the menu in future!