On Saturday evening, AV surprised me with the first of many, many birthday celebrations (my birthday is this coming Monday, and like any good six-year-old, I'm SUPER excited). He made the reservation and we hopped in a cab, and only when he told the driver the address did I know where we were going: Jojo!
Jojo, another one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants, is another place I've been wanting to go for a while. I remember passing it once and noting how cute it looked, all the while making a mental note to check it out. Well, apparently AV also made a mental note, because here we were for birthday dinner #1.
Jojo is situated in a very precious townhouse on the UES, and we were led up an old-fashioned staircase to our table on the second floor. The other parties were all older foursomes, which provided some very interesting eavesdropping (score!). After enduring a highly awkward specials recitation, which included not only every single ingredient in the fois gras brulee but also precisely how the dish was prepared from start to finish, we placed our orders and dove right into the waiting bread basket. This, my friends, was FANTASTIC bread, rivaling that of Blue Hill in the "bread that makes you feel bad about yourself" category. The bread had an enviable sharp crust with a soft, stretchy, chewy interior, feather-light while still substantial in the mouth. Slathered with butter, it was transcendent. The only potential demerit was the fact that they gave us three portions, that loneliest number in the bread basket realm, but fortunately I was more than satisfied with one baguette.
Then, promptly, on to our appetizers. We had mentioned that we wanted to split the goat cheese appetizer, and without us even asking they plated it separately. Huge extra points there. This delicious dish consisted of a slab of Coach Farms goat cheese enveloped by a slim belt of potato, all bruleed to a warm, tender crisp, and accompanied by a small mesclun salad and a lagoon of arugula puree. The goat cheese here was as delicious as any warm goat cheese can be, expertly complemented by the condiments and the almost shockingly tasty vinaigrette on the lettuce.
On to the entrees. AV had chosen the short ribs, which came with carrot puree and a forest of tiny mushrooms. Not a huge fan of mushrooms, AV offered most of them to me (delish), but he also tried a few himself and didn't recoil. He also very much enjoyed the tender and filling short ribs.
My own entree was a selection off the vegetarian tasting menu (gracefully offered a la carte upon request). It was an artichoke salad with baby arugula and pine nuts. This was actually quite a hearty portion, fresh and tasty and just filling enough. Well done.
On to desserts, of course. AV went with the molten chocolate cake. You can't go wrong here, and Jojo certainly didn't-- the cake was rich and warm and melty, and the vanilla ice cream was perfect.
Oh, and of course, there were cocoa-dusted almonds at the end. Delicioso!
Jojo provided a very, very special birthday meal. The setting is incomparable-- an ornate townhouse in which I instantly felt both comfortable and serene. The other patrons inadvertently offer some solid entertainment, and the food (of course) is enviable. The thoughtfulness of AV underlying the whole evening didn't hurt, either. I would highly, highly recommend Jojo for a special occasion. If you're aiming for a refined atmosphere without a lot of stuffiness, Jojo is a four Offset Spatula destination that fits the bill perfectly.
160 E. 64th Street, at Lexington Ave