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mongo_jones

joe beef

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I had occasion this week to eat in Liverpool House and Joe Beef on successive nights. Although they serve similar food, Joe Beef seemed to me to be better -- maybe even significantly better -- than Liverpool House. It's hard, though, to put my finger on why.

 

Liverpool House

 

Liverpool House is Joe Beef's second restaurant. My impression is that it shares a kitchen with Le Vin Papillon, the Joe Beef group's wine bar, but not with Joe Beef itself. Does anyone know about this?

 

Liverpool House had a hard time establishing an identify. My understanding is, that when Liverpool House first opened, the conceit was that it would be an Italian restaurant -- but with a Joe Beef esthetic. That didn't stick. Then, I understand, the idea was that it would be a seafood restaurant -- but with a Joe Beef esthetic. That didn't stick, either. Then, it became what it remains now: sort of Joe Beef, Jr.

 

There's nothing wrong with that in theory. But for some reason, the food lacked that magic something that makes Joe Beef's food jump into your heart (where it clogs the arteries). Or maybe what it lacked was the balance: what Joe Beef does is make essentially gross food seem kind of refined; Liverpool House's food just seemed kind of gross.

 

So both my lamb rib appetizer and my smoked pork chop main dish seemed delicious in theory. And you can't beat the ingredients: the peas with which that pork chop was covered were fabulous -- plump, full of flavor. But both dishes ultimately came across as the kind of glop that Joe Beef's food seems like it is -- until you eat it and see that each dish is masterful.

 

Liverpool House's wine list, though, is fabulous.

 

Joe Beef

 

So I went to Joe Beef with some trepidation. Had the bloom gone off that rose for me?

 

As it turns out, no. What makes the food here better? I dunno: a certain precision in the cooking (not just the preparation, but the conceptualization of dishes). Contrast my main dish here -- a horse filet, lined with bacon, served in a Sauce Albufera -- with that sloppy, gloppy pork chop at Liverpool House. This dish was conceptually audacious: I've only ever had Sauce Albufera on light proteins like chicken. What was it doing on horse meat? The best it could -- which turned out to be pretty damned good; the combination was outrageously delicious. (Note, however, that food at Joe Beef doesn't look any more refined. That would kill the concept.)

 

Liverpool House features the same service style (which I parochially refer to as "Brooklyn service") as Joe Beef; it was more glitchy at Liverpool House this week, but that was probably more attributable to how jam-packed LH was than to any difference between the two places. Anyway, at Joe Beef they were waiting for me, and I was seated at the bar and treated royally.

 

Joe Beef remains my favorite restaurant in supra-Mexican North America. Much as I'm sorry to say so, on the basis of this one meal (and it is, after all, only one meal), Liverpool House isn't a full replacement.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE: Tastes of lots of alcoholic beverages at Joe Beef.

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The different iterations at Liverpool House depend on the CDC. It was Italian under Emma, then she opened Nora Gray. It had more global influences under Omar, then he left to open le Coq de l'est. They seem to have made an effort to standardize the restaurant in the last few years, maybe to it's detriment. The cdc at Joe Beef has stayed consistent for maybe the last 4-5 years? He also has an ownership stake at Vin Pap I believe. I think hes more important to the quality at JB these last few years than he might get credit for generally.

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Haven't tried Liverpool House but some of the dishes I had at Vin Papillon were better than ones at Joe Beef, the evening I went to both.

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Have you all had success with getting day of reservations at JB through DINR? And since LVP doesnt take reservations, whats the best strategy for just showing up?

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