104-1175 Cook St
JOIE French Café
1610 Cook St
Hours: Daily from 11am to 3pm
Phone: (250) 590-9193
* Reservations recommended
DK: Cook Street between Caledonia and Pandora has always been my favourite commercial district in Victoria. During my 20s, it was home to the best bar in town, the best pizza slice in town, and the best bakery. I’m still grieving the loss of Logan’s Bar, and the 420 slice cravings will never go away. Thank God, Pâtisserie Danielle survives.
When JOIE French Cafe opened, I was excited by what it could add to the neighbourhood (namely the opportunity to get a decent croque monsieur). It didn’t completely live up to my own hype back then, but I was glad to be back at JOIE to try something else on the menu.
ES: I too miss Logan’s. It’s been a punk rock haven for decades, since one can truly enjoy the acts up close. I was there when Thor (no, not the Marvel Cinematic hero) was in town. Ira Hunter, Editor-in-chief of Absolute Underground Magazine, invited me to come join him, and I think he was hoping I’d write a review of that show, but I digress. I showed up early just so I could hit Cold Comfort Ice Cream.
But on the day I was out with Don, I needed something to warm me up. On the lunch menu, the French Onion Soup was exactly what I needed to soothe these old bones of mine. Yes, I’m the older one between Don and me, but I won’t say by how much.
DK: But just like Becel Margarine, Ed is young at heart. What an insane ad campaign that was. Cure your fears of ageing by smearing this oil spread on a bit of toast. Slurp up that fuckin linoleic acid until you’re sprinting around your neighbourhood park like a 4-year-old. Anyway, speaking of healthy eating choices, I went for the salad at Joie. And hoo boy did they ever strangle that spinach in sliced almonds and goat cheese. No skimping here.
ES: While the prices here are reasonable for lunch, I suspect heading over to their main restaurant, JOLIE Grillades, will make a dent in anyone’s wallet. Authentic French cuisine on the island isn’t cheap. What I got as a sampler was certainly worth the $14, if I remember correctly. That is, if you want to feast on fresh salmon, duck or even lamb, their market price can be a shocker, especially if you’re visiting off season and have a particular craving.
Would Don and I return for that? I’d be on the fence, but would be willing. I will return to this operation for a crepe though! I’m anxious to taste what a chef can do with bacon though. But as for the bigger operation, what say you, Don?
DK: I’m interested in whether their croque monsieur has improved from when they were a younger eatery. Crêpes don’t really get me moving, though. So am I excited to return? No. Does that say anything about this café? Probably not. Enthusiasm for mornay sauce will likely dictate your own enthusiasm for Joie and its offerings.
4 Blokes out of 5
Final score for both operations: pending.