When JoJo Eating House opened for business back in November I was elated. The dishes I tried were fantastic and the menu was clean and fun. For those that read my First Look, I was particularly fond of the Artichoke and Large Lump Crab Ceviche. The fresh and simple dish made me wiggle in my seat, and go back the next evening for a second round. Alas, the artichoke salad is no more, but Chef Laurent Poupart has been busy preparing a new menu for the change of seasons that are truly spectacular.
Sadly missed was the Pastry Chef, Laurel Wimberg. She is masterful in the kitchen and at the time of the opening spoke about the possibilities of opening a store front bakery to feed JoJo. That will not happen now, and she has moved on to Lark located in Klyde Warren Park which opens today.
Poupart is an engaging chef. He is best at work in his very open kitchen speaking with guests; the ones that can pick up on his fabulous French accent. It is evident that he is hard working and leads by example. Last evening we dined until it was closing time. We sat at the chef’s bar to catch all the action in the kitchen and to chat up the staff. When the last plate was expedited Laurent moved into hyper-mode scrubbing his flat top and wiping down the kitchen. This is when many executive chefs would be exiting for the evening.
What makes an amazing restaurant experience for me, besides the surrounding electric energy from a well fed room, are the starter courses. These often set the stage for things to come, and this is the time when a restaurant can shine with imagination. JoJo fulfills this promise glowingly.
The absolute star of the appetizer menu is the Big Apple Foie Gras Burger. This is seared foie that is sandwiched between two thick slices of Granny Smith that have been cooked down to a slight al dente, picking up that buttery foie flavor. The dish is hearty enough to share with several friends, and probably too rich to tackle alone. This is an amazing combination of flavor components.
Something as simple as a caprese salad with thick, fresh slices of juicy hot house tomatoes and equally as thick shards of Paula Lambert’s mozzarella drizzled with balsamic and crowned with the top of a tomato can make me smile. And it did.
Poupart does seafood really well. A perfect example is the chef’s bouillabaisse packed with assorted seafood brought in fresh that day along with clams and octopus. The large filets of fish were numerous in species making the bowl swell with flavors. Use extra bread to absorb the delicious soup.
The Citrus Seared Quail was an interesting dish, and should be ordered for the underlying mushroom risotto and au jus. The quail was cooked nicely, and deboned for easy devouring, but the chunky risotto took the prize for the plate. Smooth, creamy and full of mushrooms, the risotto is well worth a place on the menu by itself.
Perfected also are the Jumbo Sea Scallops. Served righteous with Yukon gold potatoes, a lemon ragu, wild mushrooms, asparagus, and a roasted red pepper sauce, the scallops looked well adorned, but stood proud on their own. The milky centers of the very large and fresh scallops were scented with a slight sweet scent of the sea, and melted as my fork took bait.
For those not on a seafood binge, look for some wonderful Niman Ranch steaks, all beautifully marbled and aged. And still on the menu are the lamb shank tagine, osso buco and braised beef cheeks. All these are warm and supple on a brisk Dallas evening
My artichoke salad was hardly missed, but the chef assured me with a days notice he could conjure up an entire table full of the salad that made our top dish list for 2012. Months after its initial opening and a new menu later, JoJo Eating House still has substance as much as it has style.
JoJo Eating House | 2626 Howell St, Dallas | 214.754.4949