Joseph Alexanders is a super special place for me because it happens to be where Charlie and I had our first date, over a year ago. That night, I was way too tipsy from pre-dinner cocktails to be able to judge the food I ate but Charlie maintains that the steak he had there was one of the best he's EVER had.
We've been trying to find an excuse to go back recently but there were so many failed attempts (e.g. they don't open for dinner on Sundays, which is a shame because that's when we usually want to eat out).
Last night, we finally got the chance to go there, even though we didn't have a special occasion to justify going out to eat.
JA is located in a colonial-style building on the corner of Coronation Rd. and Park Rd. It's a nice looking building. When you step inside, it feels like you've stepped into a house. The main door leads to a narrow hallway and you wait there until someone tells you where to sit. The first time we went, we were seated downstairs in one of the rooms. And it really is like a room in a house. Small with only a few other tables.
This time, we were ushered upstairs. I didn't even know they had an 'upstairs' but once we climbed the wooden stairs, we saw an expansive upper level with a live jazz musician and more seating on the balconies.
Our table was on the balcony. Although it's outside, the sides are sealed off with glass so you get the benefit of a view without having to battle the elements. I love the old-school furnishings: mini-chandeliers, wooden floors and large wooden mirrors and picture frames lining the walls.
We had already peaked at the menu downstairs and basically knew what we wanted to order. I chose the steak and Charlie went for the lamb rack. We also asked for bread to start with.
Our bread arrived first. They were oddly football shaped but served nice and warm with some truffle butter. I'm hugely biased towards bread and butter - I could live on that stuff along. The bread was good (had tiny sunflower seeds in it) and the butter had a distinct truffle flavor. At only $2.50 per person, it was a great way to start the meal.
Grain fed eye fillet - with truffle mash, caramelized baby beetroot, roasted vegetables, vanilla bean jus
The mains came not long after. I cut into my steak and was slightly disappointed that it was cooked well done, rather than medium well like I asked. I don't usually mind well done but in this case, it did taste a bit dry. Overall, it was still a good cut of meat but not the best I'VE ever tasted. The truffle mash was yum but I noticed it seemed colder than the other parts of the dish? I don't know if that's because they have a big vat of truffle mash and spooned a bit out onto my plate that wasn't heated through but that's the impression I got. It didn't stop me from eating it though. The truffle mash tasted especially nice paired with the roasted baby beets and baby fennel.
Lamb rack - French trimmed on sweet corn polenta cake, roasted baby vegetables, confit of garlic yogurt, lamb glaze
Charlie proclaimed that his lamb rack was the best he ever tasted (needless to say, he rates JA very highly). I had a bit and while it was nice, it didn't leave a very strong impression on me. We weren't huge fans of the polenta but he happily polished the rest of the dish off.
Service was efficient and consistent throughout our meal. The waiting time was very reasonable. Food is a bit on the pricey side but you're also paying for the atmosphere. Although there are a few hiccups, the standard of food is high and it helps that serving sizes are quite generous.
We've had 2 good experiences at Joseph Alexanders now and I'm sure it's a restaurant we'll be returning to in the future. They also offer high tea and that's something I'm really keen to try...