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Joel Restaurant: Buckhead

posted on December 11, 2007 at 9:04 am
RESTAURANT REVIEW: 

I can’t say I ever had a bad meal at the old Joel Restaurant in Buckhead. I had not returned since the restaurant shut its doors for a massive renovation. The new Joel is intended to be more relaxed version of its former self, but the décor feels a bit mismatched and looks dated. My first (and only) visit was during lunch last week. The menu has a little something for everyone and is quite similar to the modernized offerings on the menu at many Parisian brasseries these days.

Joel: Atlanta

Risotto and porcini tart with arugula salad

Joel: Atlanta

French onion soup

We started with the porcini and risotto tart that was accompanied by an arugula salad and the French onion soup.The tart was unusual—to me—but, I really enjoyed the earthiness of the filling and the crust was delicious. The greens were very nice—less peppery than local arugula, but each leaf was perfect and sturdy enough to handle the mustard seeds in the dressing. French onion soup—not something I normally order—was a standup version. The broth was surprisingly light—not thick like other versions—and it had a slight sweetness that played well against the ribbons of heady cheese in each bite.

We had a bit of trouble finding something we wanted off the entrees section. Neither of us wanted steak frites or roasted chicken, so we went a bit lighter. We ordered the salad nicoise with a side of fries and the shrimp over shitake raviolis with ginger buerre blanc and a side of parsnips. 

Joel: Atlanta

Salad nicoise

Joel: Atlanta

Shrimp with shitake ravioli and ginger-infused beurre blanc

Joel: Atlanta

French fries

The nicoise was a perfect portion. Everything was prepared meticulously and the little quail eggs were a nice touch. We had a hard time getting an answer on the origin of the tuna, but it was definitely from a can—a plus when it comes to nicoise. The shrimp was equally good. The ginger was a bit overwhelming in some bites, but it was an overall strong dish. The raviolis were the perfect base for the dish. The fries (which we confirmed were frozen) were still pretty good, but I can never get over a frozen fry (especially at a French restaurant). The parsnips were sliced into thick batons and served in a little copper pot. A nice sticky and slightly (naturally) sweet veggie.

Joel: Atlanta

Lemon sorbet

The dessert menu was a list of “greatest hits” according to my friend. Since I am still on my diet (21 lbs. gone if you are wondering), I passed, but he had a lemon sorbet, which he liked.

Verdict: A definitely good lunch that I would come back for. There were other items, like the chestnut fricassee, that caught my eye and are tempting me to go back for dinner. Décor is a bit dated and service is varied depending on whom you get. But, if I had to place judgment today (based on only one meal), I’d say that Joel still has it and it is worth your money. One of the best French spots in Atlanta today.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION:

Address: 3290 Northside Pkwy NW, 30327
Phone: (404) 233-3500
Payment: Credit and cash

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5 comments

  • Re: Joel Restaurant: Buckhead
    posted by: gadgetgeek · December 12, 2007  5:03 PM

    BG>– We had a hard time getting an answer on the origin of the tuna, but it was definitely from a can—a plus when it comes to nicoise.

    GG2>– what is there about canned tuna that would be better than fresh, frozen, either poached or steamed real tuna?

    .

  • Re: Joel Restaurant: Buckhead
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · December 13, 2007  4:40 AM

    GG2: Canned tuna is the traditional ingredient for a classic nicoise. It just marries with the flavors and textures of other ingredients much better than a hunk of warm, fresh tuna.

  • Re: Joel Restaurant: Buckhead
    posted by: GadgetGeek2 · December 13, 2007  6:37 AM

    I chill steamed, poached, or oil poached real tuna and then flake it into salads. not traditional perhaps but the large flakes of tuna taste and appear better than even the well-canned tuna that I’ve ever eaten. Thanks for your reply.
    .

  • Re: Joel Restaurant: Buckhead
    posted by: Leslie · December 16, 2007  3:48 PM

    Joel did a tasting for our staff at work as part of a promotion at our radio station. He brought the tart as well as a delicious gazpacho and a nice, light chocolate mousse. Oh, I think he brought a few quiches too. Nice fellow, even nicer food. Can’t wait to go try it out.

  • Re: Joel Restaurant: Buckhead
    posted by: Sudhir · December 27, 2007  2:45 PM

    I am going to Jöel next month for the first time in nearly 6 years. I hope it holds up to my expectations because I chose it over Bacchanalia, my favorite restaurant in the city, and Dining Room, which I still have yet to try.

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