Boiled Beef, Spaghetti al Pesto, Chicken Piccata with Ravioli
Occupation: Retired Journalist
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Joe's of Westlake
Reviewed Joe's of Westlake: Sunday, December 7, 2008
There is a wonderful old-time atmosphere to Joe’s of Westlake. Joe’s was built in 1956 and has been satisfying customers and packing ‘em in ever since. The cocktail lounge, in true 50s fashion, occupies a separate room. The pianist Darrel “Hutch” Hutchinson and drummer Eddie Valencia have been entertaining patrons Wednesday through Sunday for more than 22 years. This is the only lounge in the Bay Area with performers five nights a week. They have a repertoire of over 1000 songs. Joe’s of Westlake is open seven days a week, starting at 11am.
The emphasis is on freshly prepared foods with no preservatives. No packaged meats are used. The restaurant cuts its own steak and breaks down veal from sirloins. Salad dressings are house-made. Popular lunch dishes are filet of sole and chicken scaloppini with choice of mixed vegetables, spaghetti or ravioli.
The roast beef and pot roast sandwiches are popular. The burgers are made from nine ounces of ground chuck with onions pressed into the patty and cooked on the charcoal broiler. Steak a la Bruno is a signature dish. The 10-ounce steak is marinated with garlic, olive oil, and a secret blend of spices, and then broiled. The 11-ounce New York-cut Minute Steak is also very popular. The traditional Joe’s specials are: veal scaloppine with mushrooms, roast prime rib, roast lamb, calf's liver, and steak with onions, bacon, or mushrooms.
There’s always roast chicken or broiled, and boneless skinless marinated breast of chicken. Wines, predominantly from California are available. Desserts are available. A house special is house-made fried cream in blue flambé, which is fried, soaked in brandy and brought to the table flambéed. The recipe is a secret.
Every morning before the place opens at 11PM, a line forms. Three generations of Peninsulans have enjoyed the fact that Joe’s of Westlake relies on true value, not trends.
Occupation: Handyman and Wedding Officiator
Favorite Restaurant: La Mediterranee
Reviewed Joe's of Westlake: Monday, December 8, 2008
My three favorite epicurean buddies and I strolled in, ready to enjoy the fare. The menu was pretty direct, but we needed some information on what “Joe’s special chicken” was like. Our server seemed a bit perplexed and had no idea of how to advise us, so we ordered blindly. Hungry as a bunch of hoboes, we dove into the bread and butter while we pondered our choices. We all decided on entrees and awaited the meal. Water service was lacking, and we had to ask for it twice. If I went back, I would ask for a pitcher for the table.
I did not want to eat a five-dollar salad, so we asked for small side salads, which were sad and spare, and which ended up being five bucks. I ordered the Monday Special, which was Swiss Italian steak with steamed veggies. I was hoping it included mashed potatoes, but left it to chance. When my food arrived, there was a lovely mound of savory spuds right on the side of my plate.
The steak was tender, juicy, and everything I had hoped for. The potatoes were rich, delicious and had a satisfying consistency. The "steamed veggies," however, were obviously from a frozen bag. My dinner guests noticed the signature crinkle cut of the carrots as standard frozen fare.
Overall, it was a bit disappointing, considering the price. The servers could be more concerned about guest experience, but in no way were they rude or dismissive. This seems like a place that might be riding on its position as a community mainstay, but could do better by seeking excellence. There seemed to be a lot of locals and regulars, several birthday parties actually. The dining area was large and accommodating. Padded tables and very, very soft napkins.
It is a bit out of my way, but I would go back. The menu and website tantalizes me with the basic spaghetti with Joe’s signature meat sauce. I would love to try that. There is some good shopping nearby, so if one were to be in Daly City doing some gift purchases, this is a great place to meet and eat. However, if you are looking for well-crafted food with enthusiastic service, seek elsewhere. A few suggestions my pals and I would make are fresh ground pepper and cheese service, fresh herbs, and maybe look into getting excited about the side dishes. The best thing on our table was a chicken dish with lemon, capers, and ravioli. Last word: go with someone who loves this place so they can tell you what gets cooked with love, not duty.
Occupation: Montessori Pre-School Teacher
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: Roy's Restaurant
Reviewed Joe's of Westlake: Friday, November 28, 2008
We decided to go to Joe's of Westlake to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The restaurant itself has this kitschy, other era vibe. I felt like I stepped onto a set of That 70’s Show. At the front of the restaurant they had a bar room cordoned off to the left. The room is immense with a great, old-fashioned fireplace to one side. I wished we had stopped in for a drink first just to get a feel of the ambience.
It didn’t take us long to get a table, and I realized that majority of the clientele were older couples and families. I thought it took us awhile to put in our order.
Sadly, everything about the restaurant was brown -- the carpet was brown, the tables were brown, the chairs were brown, the walls were brown, and the food was brown. I personally had a hard time choosing something on the menu, as everything was meat, meat, and more meat. The few vegetable options that I found were the salad selection and mixed vegetable side dish. I was looking for something heartier, so I opted for the Spaghetti al Pesto.
My friends ordered tea and were given a pot of tepid water to steep their tea bags in. The second pot was much hotter, but the first was such a disappointment. The bread on the table was substantial but cold, always a drawback in my book.
The plates were huge when they arrived. In general, everyone who ordered a meat dish was pretty satisfied. I couldn’t believe I was paying $13.25 for a plate of spaghetti with pesto sauce! It was tasty, but certainly over priced. Overall, we were pretty underwhelmed by the dishes. It felt like something we could easily cooked at home. The hamburger steak was dry, but the chicken parmigiana was well received. It came with fries, which were fat and tasty. They must have been cooked in beef tallow because they had that greasy McDonald’s flavor to them.
Because the portions were so sizeable, we did not have a lot of space (or enthusiasm) for dessert. We ordered the most unusual dessert on the menu -- Fried Cream in Blue Flame. It was two slabs of fried cream in a small flaming small dish and floating in rum. Usually when a restaurant serves a flaming dish, the waiters make a big deal. We weren’t warned that the dish would be flaming or when to blow out the flame. We must have blown it out too early because it tasted distinctly of alcohol and didn’t go down the palate smoothly.
Overall, I would say Joe’s of Westlake is a kitschy, neighborhood meat place and is perfect if you like that sort of thing. The food is safe, familiar and hearty. A very average Joe’s.