Canadian Invasion: One Restaurant At A Time

Joey's - "New World Cuisine", Eclectic Fare (3.5 Stars)
http://www.joeysmedgrill.com

It's surprising what a $240 million dollar expansion can do to a bedraggled mall: 400,000 square feet of new and shiny, 75 new specialty shops, and seven new restaurants ("real" ones, not just food court noshes). According to Joey's website, "It's a lively place where we've used the rocket science of acoustic design to let you sit at the centre of the action and still enjoy a quiet conversation."

Despite my general lack of interest in chain restaurants, Chris always rallies a defense: "It's CANADIAN! And it's only located in the Seattle metro area." And yes, that's true. Joey's only non-Canadian locations are in Bellevue, Southcenter, and Lake Union. An invasion never looked so good! With an ultra modern, yet relaxed decor, clean lines, and an attractive staff, Joey's serves up an ambiance as much as a menu and that's Chris' favorite part.

Typically Joey's ends up being our destination of choice when needing to fuel-up before a mad shopping spree that inevitably involves visiting the two-story H&M, a trip to Starbucks (though, admittedly, Chris is now boycotting them), and whatever else meets with our fancy along the way. One note: when visiting on a Sunday during football season, expect to have the game playing on half the LCD TVs and a radio broadcast being piped into the dining room. This may or may not be your cup of tea.

After sizing up our options for all of about a minute (we WERE starving after all), we agreed to start with the Nachos Grande. The corn tortilla chips are house-made, cut extra thick (this was arguably the best part of the nachos), and stacked about six inches high. The plate was loaded with shredded chicken, fire-roasted tomato salsa, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, sliced black olives, Monterey jack cheese, diced avocado, and refried black beans (the chicken was actually in the beans)! You can choose between mild, medium, hot, or even "hurt me hot" salsa for your largely portioned appetizer/entree. This is definitely a hearty eat, though the $12.99 feels about two dollars too much. Also, despite being stacked to the rafters, about a third of the chips underneath had no toppings and they put all the salsa on one side and beans on the other. Be sure you uncover the hidden gems before the loaded chips are gone or you'll be left snacking on them au natural.

Chris typically orders the Better Beef Dip, but decided to be adventuresome and go with the Hi-Rise Burger with Cheese. The menu states this is a classic, using ground chuck, and that it's loaded with "all the groceries", which means lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato, and cheddar cheese. The large, probably third-pound burger, comes with a side of thin-cut fries and ketchup. We did lament to the waitress, twice, that they're no longer serving the shoestring fries - arguably the best we've ever had. The burger had a meaty, beefy taste to it, with no heavy seasonings so the beef could actually shine. For some reason though, about half of the burger was relatively done and the other half was very pink. The inconsistent cooking (not sure how they actually accomplished that) was barely a complaint from Chris and he said he would definitely order this again. He even had a compliment for the fries.

When it came time for me to select an entree, I waffled. A lot. The "New World Cuisine" that Joey's offers means they have a little bit of everything from Thai and Chinese, to American and Mexican, plus seafood. However, I was finally able to settle on the Chicken Souvlaki. I was missing the original skinny fries, so chose a Cesar salad instead of the regular accompaniment. Also, for those of you with large appetites, take note that this entree will be on the smaller side. That said, the warmed pita is slathered with hummus, then topped with lettuce, perfectly roasted chicken, and drizzled with tzatziki. Bottom line: this sandwich is delicious, but felt overpriced given the mediocre portion.

There were really only two things that kept Joey's from being 4 Stars. The first was the haphazard nachos (toppings not very evenly topped) and the second was the odd doneness for Chris' burger. Chris summed it up well when he said, "I really just like coming here for the ambiance. It's so cool!"
Joey's Grill & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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