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Hey Joe, I’m a Blogger and I Like Your Biscuits

On Sunday, I ventured into enemy territory. Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I sauntered in and enjoyed my Sunday brunch (a reverred meal) at Joe Dobias’ JoeDoe in the East Village. Why is JoeDoe enemy territory and why is this any more interesting than, say, a brunch at Prune just across the street? Because Joe Dobias’ is essentially openly hostile to food bloggers and because I went with my good friend Zoe of Strictly Platonic who has a very strong opinion of Joe and his perspective (makes for some pretty good reading and debate).

However, putting the food blogging issue aside (another discussion for another post, outside of this attempt at a fair and balanced review), JoeDoe was a pleasant surprise. Co-owners & partners Joe Dobias and Jill Schulster have a low in pretention and high in quality gastro-pub on their hands. Another addition to the growing list of restaurants that focus on dressed-up comfort food made with seasonal farm-fresh ingredients, JoeDoe has just 27-seats in a lovely antique-filled railroad space. Rich dark wood, vintage mirrors and photographs, and a golden glow from the antique lamps and lanterns imbue the narrow room with a comfortable and laidback farmhouse vibe.

Self-dubbed as aggressive american, the food was Southern-twanged, hearty and surprising. Joe and his tiny open-air kitchen pull together classic brunch dishes with innovative twists. For example, instead of normal eggs, you can substitute duck eggs in any egg-based dish! (unfortunately, they were sold out this past Sunday). The traditional eggs benedict came with pork jowl; the french toast was made from thick slices of Challah and topped with bananas foster; and corned beef hash morphed into corned duck hash. Instead of bread before the meal, you’re served fresh crumby buttermilk biscuits with savory butter (absolutely my favorite way to start the day!).

Zoe and I both went for meat and game in the morning. She opted for the Corned Duck Hash with Poached Eggs and Rye Toast, while I went for the Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy. Well, it is safe to say that the food is in fact very aggressive. Both orders arrived on massive plates heaped with food. I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of grub in front of me. Usually impressed by my ability to pack it down, I was totally miffed when I left over half the helping on my plate! Zoe had a similar problem, packing up a good 2/3 of her hash for the road home. The food was intensely flavorful and rich. My buttermilk biscuits came with a heaping portion of white gravy, ham hock, and mutton sausage. I found myself picking through the gravy in hopes of lightening the load. While it all tasted pretty delicious, it was just altogether too much for me (call me a lightweight, call me a fake, but this was just a ton of food.) The Corned Duck Hash was similar in that it packed in the flavor. It tasted marvelous (if not a bit gamey), if you didn’t fork it all in at once in an emblazoned desire to wolf it down. The eggs were delicately done and a nice contrast to the mountain of hash.

The service was pretty good – it was definitely attentive and quick. However, our waiter seemed a little too cool for school and seemed confused when we ordered our dishes. Were our dishes somehow…unusual orders? No, I don’t think so. Despite our waiter’s perplexed stare, the service was satisfactory and unobstrusive.

All in all, JoeDoe was a good dining experience. I was definitely hit with sensory overload, particularly on the food front, but this could, naturally, be attributed to my Sunday morning lethargy. The vittles are tasty, fresh, and hearty; the restaurant is mellow and well-run. A word of warning though: don’t come here if you’re looking for a light meal – prepare to be hit with an onslaught of fierce flavors (and fiercer portions).

A definite player on the downtown brunch scene, scope it out with foodies (especially those curious as to what Joe Dobias is so confident about) and friends alike. Need something to help temper (or dull) the lumberjack-deserving dishes? Try the mimosa. Totally delish.

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