Nestled at the side of Kingston’s East Hotel is modern Italian sensation: Joe’s Bar. Complete with frosted lights, wooden features and green velour couches, the venue combines comfort with modern sophistication.
Greeted upon arrival by the friendly staff, we were served a bowl of popcorn – an unusual starter for an Italian restaurant! However, an addictive sprinkling of cheese and rosemary definitely gets the mouth watering in anticipations of the dishes to come from Head Chef Francesco Balestrieri. Like much of his modern menu, this twist on a comfortable classic matches perfectly with the feel of the venue.
Starting with one of the popular dishes, the Plato Di Joe offers a collection of house-cured meats, cheese and pickled vegetables with a side of bread. This is Joe’s on a plate – combining quality, simplicity and beautiful pickling techniques that results in fennel, carrots and beets with plenty of crunch and flavour.
Between courses we tried some of Joe’s cocktails. Our favourite was Joe’s Giant G&T. This play on the London classic includes a touch of freshness with the addition of rhubarb and strawberries to the glass.
Our next stop was the Puglia region of Italy, we were served Burrata. This dish features an oozy and decadent mozzarella made from cow’s milk and cream, served with smoked golden tomatoes under a dome for stunning visual effect, and accompanied by bread drizzled with olive oil.
As the night progressed, and the noise of the restaurant increased with the buzz of diners’ conversation it’s clear that Joe’s Bar is a place to socialise and catch up with friends over simple, yet delicious food.
For mains, the Gnocchi con Zucchine is certainly a highlight. Words cannot describe the comfort that comes from beautiful, fluffy pillows of home made gnocchi. Balestrieri combines the light pasta with saffron, crispy pancetta and zucchini for a delicate flavour that perfectly accompanies the star of the dish.
Even though there are so many amazing things on the menu, you must save room for dessert! One cannot help but grin at the site of the Semifreddo. The vanilla semi-frozen dessert is perfectly accompanied by fresh strawberries and a house-made chocolate sauce drizzled atop the delicate dessert. But honestly you could eat the sauce by itself with a spoon – it’s so amazing!
Open seven days from midday until late, Joe’s Bar has proved a hugely popular part of Canberra’s Inner South and it’s easy to see why. This is an experience not to be missed.