I recently came across possibly the most romantic, wonderful combination of three words you’ll ever hear.
Joe’s Imports is a new-ish wine bar that opened in Fulton Market this February. We were invited to try out some of the chef’s summer dishes and most popular menu items on the house, but what was in store was a feast of epic proportions.
My boyfriend Cam and I were seated on the patio, which was shaded under a tree and remained pleasant even in the absurd heat wave. If brunching with A/C is more your style, Joe’s dining room is cool, dark, and intimate. It was not packed early on a Saturday, but had a good crowd and lively bustle.
Even at a wine bar, Cam’s love of beer remained unchallenged. He ordered his go-to brunch brew, a Lagunitas IPA. I was plagued with indecision of the great-sounding cocktails, but landed on the Bellini. Joe’s Import’s Bellini has Prosecco and peach liquor with house made peach sorbet. Not only is this drink extremely photogenic, it is also tasty. I didn’t have to wait long for the heat to melt my sorbet into a sweet and summery peach-flavored cocktail.
Instead of perusing the menu, we put our faith in the staff at Joe’s and waited to see what we’d be served. We were not disappointed.
First came the parmesan puffs, shaved celery salad, and heirloom tomatoes.
I was thrilled to try the parmesan puffs, which also make an appearance on the dinner menu. The parmesan puffs are fried cheese puffs, topped with freshly grated parmesan, served with fondue (read: more cheese). They are a cheese lover’s heaven. The puffs had a crispy exterior and warm, fluffy interior.
The shaved celery salad sounded like a bit of a reach for me. It’s definitely not something that would have made my brunch order. My experience with celery never moved past detesting ants on a log. But boy, have I been missing out! Shaving the celery left it softer and a great base for a salad. It was mixed with fennel, mint, spiced walnuts, and parmesan and topped with a lemon vinaigrette. It was fresh, light, and had the ideal amount of crunch for a salad. I’m a new celery convert.
The heirloom tomatoes are a new addition to the menu. In fact, they were just added to the menu the night before we went and sold out. The tomatoes we had were picked up fresh from the farmer’s market that morning – and they tasted like it. The gorgeously plated, colorful heirlooms are topped with first day of harvest extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, and bottarga. The chef explained bottarga is salted, cured fish roe. It has an umami, salty flavor and brought a crispness to the tomatoes. This dish won’t remain on the menu after tomato season, so hurry in.
Before we could clear those three plates, out came the crab cake and avocado toast. The crab cake was so fresh that Cam reminisced about his childhood summers in Maine. There was no filler, instead Joe’s let the crab shine and stand alone. It came with avocado, a perfectly poached egg, hollandaise, and herbs. My next brunch at Joe’s, I’ll definitely repeat this dish.
The avocado toast came with bright, blistered tomatoes, red onion, frisée, two perfectly poached eggs, and parmesan. I don’t usually order the avocado toast (insert bad joke about millennials here). It’s not that I don’t love it, I just always want heartier dishes when I eat out. The quality of the bread stood out to both Cam and me. This dish would have been a substantial breakfast on its own.
Dear reader, you think we’d be done, but not quite yet! They then brought out the pork hash and an Aperol spritz for me. Cam stuck with Lagunitas IPA. The pork hash has confit pork belly, hash browns, hollandaise, and two fried eggs. It was salty, savory, and the hollandaise added a nice brightness to the dish.
The Aperol spritz has been a love affair of mine this summer. I know the cocktail can be divisive, but I find it so summery, refreshing, and fun with its bright orange color. If you’re not an Aperol fan, Joe’s also has violet and fruit de la passion spritzes on the brunch menu.
We ended with the French pancakes with mixed berries. At this point, I was so stuffed I could only manage a few bites, but they were so good. They were not specifically crepes, but were on the thinner side. They had a crisp exterior, giving them almost a crunch, before giving way to the soft, warm inside. It came with maple syrup, but go lightly as the cakes are moist and flavorful enough without drenching them. This was hands down Cam’s favorite dish, and we’ve both commented on how good they were in the days since the brunch.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes!
Joe’s Imports has a wonderful way of making familiar, simple dishes feel both nostalgic and totally new at the same time. This is the perfect spot for leisurely brunch date.
Joe’s Imports serves brunch Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.