By Charly SHELTON
With 21 locations in Canada and three locations in Washington, JOEY restaurants have made a name for themselves in the middle-high end fine dining scene. It stands to reason that when breaking into the West Coast of America, one would establish a restaurant in L.A. And when looking for a location to establish a fine dining restaurant that’s easily accessible around dinnertime, look no further than Woodland Hills apparently. JOEY Woodland Hills opened Dec. 4 in The Village at Westfield Topanga.
Despite its odd location in Woodland Hills, JOEY would not be out of place at The Grove or along Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The dishes offered feature traditional flavors dressed up in their Sunday best. For example, Korean fried cauliflower with sweet spicy Korean chili miso paste and toasted sesame seeds would not be something you would expect to find at any given restaurant. It is cauliflower, but fried so delicately so as not to lose the shape and texture of the vegetable. It is then tossed in the chili paste and drizzled lightly with sesame seeds. The classic and easily identifiable flavors of sweet chili and cauliflower meld in such a way as to surprise the palate and make you rethink cauliflower altogether.
Then there are dishes which, while they may not have a particular new spin on them, are made to be the best possible version of that dish. The lobster and prawn ravioli with grilled prawns and a lobster cream sauce is not necessarily a new dish. Seafood ravioli can be done in many different ways, and it usually comes out to be pretty good. This one far exceeds many of the other seafood raviolis I have had anywhere in the world. And to be honest, it’s the lobster cream sauce. With this dish of heavy pasta filled with rich seafood and doused in a heavy cream sauce, it can tend to weigh the diner down and after half a bowl, you are ready for a nap. But at JOEY, it’s rich and decadent without weighing you down. This is not a dish to avoid if having dinner with a group of friends for fear of heavy decadence, but rather a dish to be able to share and discuss.
The best thing that I can recommend at JOEY is the traditional open flame paella. Roasted in a giant flat pan over charcoal and wood on the patio, this dish is like jambalaya with Spanish flavors all stewed together. This is the best paella I’ve ever had by far. There’s nothing fancy or trussed up about it, just a good classic paella made the right way. JOEY is very good at that: great classic flavors.
To finish off the night, I suggest the made-to-order ice cream. Made in-house with liquid nitrogen freezing, this thick rich cream turns to ice cream in just a few minutes and provides some of the richest and creamiest ice cream that you can get in L.A.
Overall, JOEY Woodland Hills is a fantastic restaurant with great foods that you probably won’t find anywhere else. Prices are reasonable with entrées running between $14 and $30 and a full meal capping out at about $40 per person, depending on what you choose. The only real drawback is getting out to Woodland Hills around dinnertime. It took me almost two hours to get from La Crescenta all the way out to Westfield Topanga at 6:30 p.m. I don’t know if I would say to make a special trip out there for dinner, but if you’re in the area it’s definitely the best choice around.
Next time I am out near Woodland Hills I will definitely return to JOEY, hungry for more.