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March 30th, 2010 · No Comments

Joe Dobias, chef owner of East Village restaurant JoeDoe, has a real distaste for food bloggers, Yelpers, and even NY’s beloved Eater staff. He has ranted his way to a canceled Twitter account (one can only assume his wife, who is also a partner in the restaurant, put the kibosh on his Tweetrums). So when I ate at JoeDoe last week, it felt almost dangerous, as if I was dining in enemy territory.

JoeDoe is a seemingly small restaurant for Dobias’s big personality, but then again, JoeDoe’s open-air kitchen is seemingly tiny for the grand inspiration it churns out. Joe Dobias’ appeal is that he’s committed to high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients and inventiveness. Long gone are the days where an organic chicken with a crispy skin can make me swoon. Joe elevates the potentially mundane – his beet appetizer the perfect example. A mound of beets were spiced, pickled, and piled on quark cheese and hazelnuts. Beets are the old ramps, but Dobias manages to invigorate a somewhat tired ingredient with new found energy.

There were some other big hits at JoeDoe. A basket of fried chick peas in lieu of bread. Jalapeno Braised Rabbit with a slab of fried dough and a jalapeno salsa that was a dynamite dish in every way and like nothing I’ve had before. Grass fed Hanger Steak was tender, flavorful and nicely paired with a Tex-Mex homage of avocado and rice and beans. For dessert, the Wildflower Honey Custard with Turkish flatbread bordered on ethereal.

JoeDoe’s misfires show more gumption than potential, starting with his much touted Prepared Beer concoctions. A Gin Cured Scallop, one of the menu’s few attempts at delicacy, also missed the mark. As for the Braised Mussels, if anyone could pull off mussels topped with ground pork, I thought it would be Dobias. Apparently, no one can. The dish was haphazard at best. I keep wondering if the toasted Challah that accompanied the shellfish and pig was Dobias’s attempt at irony. Maybe this passionate chef has a sense of humor? Let’s hope so.

Neighborhood: East Village

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