It was Friday, I was in the mood for a burger and I had heard that Jolifou served up a mean one. So I headed out with the girlfriend.
My first impression of the place was that it was dark and cold (there was an odd draft flowing through the dining room). Our waitress seemed a bit distracted (perhaps from the cold) and didn’t explain any of the daily specials. We were seated right against the wall that they were written on, so an explanation or at least a “hey, look up” would have been nice (my girlfriend probably would have ordered the mussels). Not the best start. Then the bread arrived.
The home baked bread is dense and chewy, with a hint of sourness and a salted crust with just enough crunch to it. This is very good bread. I also appreciated that the butter was at room temperature. It’s a small thing, but it really irks me when I am served rock hard butter straight out of the fridge. Unfortunately, the bread might have been the highlight of the meal. Nothing was horrible, but nothing stood out either.
My girlfriend started with the French onion soup. Not exactly a traditional take, this one has avocado and pork hock thrown into the mix. The avocado seemed a bit out of place but she thought it was a nice touch. She wasn’t such a fan of the pork hock though. The soup was not lacking in flavour, but it was just too oily. In fact, the first words out of her mouth were “wow, that’s oily”. I think you can see that from the picture .
I went with two cod fritters (served with a spicy aioli) and a lamb croquette (served with a spicy house ketchup style sauce). The cod fritters were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside but had a bit too much potato filler for my liking. The lamb croquette was the better tasting of the two but was mushy, for lack of a better word. I think this was due in large part to the fact that both fritters suffered from the same flaw as the onion soup. Too oily. I love fried food as much as the next guy, but I don’t love a mouthful of oil. I felt like these things could have used a few minutes on a paper towel before being served. I will say that the aioli and sauce were both good in their own right.
On to the burger, the reason that I was at Jolifou in the first place. I opted for the all dressed burger. This comes topped with smoked brisket, poblano pepper, avocado, cheese & salsa. The burger was good, but it didn’t wow me. I found the ground beef itself to be lacking in flavour and the brisket sitting on top to be a bit on the dry side. I was able to improve matters by adding a generous amount of one of the homemade hot sauces that sits on the table (which are incidentally quite good) and almost all of the pickled onions (also quite good), and I did eat the whole thing. So it was by no means a bad burger, but it was just OK. Better seasoned ground meat and more tender brisket would have made things very interesting.
The fries were in the same boat, good but not memorable. My girlfriend had the brisket sandwich, which is basically the all dressed burger minus the burger. As was the case in my burger, the brisket meat was generally a bit dry and lacking in the flavour department.
Overall it was a decent experience. Given that this was my first visit to Jolifou I feel obliged to say that the table beside us had some nice looking dishes and seemed to be enjoying their meal a lot more than we were. But I have to call it like I see it and our experience was just OK.
Price: $78 + tip for two with 1/2 bottle of wine and a beer.
Rating: 2 – Meh, It’s OK.
Jolifou – 1840 Beaubien St. East