The Beginner’s Guide to Joe Beef

were i to review joe beef, i’d state only the following: This is a restaurant that deserves its reputation and, depending on the height of your expectations, stands up to or exceeds the hype. -JRS

To best experience Joe Beef, forget about being a “foodie”: Level up, be a bon vivant, an epicure. Better yet, hedonist.

Here’s how, a baker’s dozen of dos and don’ts.

I. Do book in advance.

Well in advance. Other would-be diners, wiser than you, have taken every table, from now to springtime. Thankfully, the online reservation platform offers a neat notification feature, which lets you know when a cancellation comes up. If necessary, select that option—and hope someone dies, or files for divorce or something. (What? They’re strangers, what do you care?)

II. Do prepare.

Fast the day of, or restrict your diet to lighter fare—fruits and vegetables, for example. Plenty of water.

If fitness is your thing, go for it, but with added intensity. If not, and you are able, take a long walk in the fresh air. Contemplate life and its infallibly transient nature.

III. Do dress comfortably.

Dress code: non-existent. Wear whatever you wish. An elastic waistband will serve you well; a belt without notches will not. I recommend long sleeves—but only to roll them up when the time comes to get down to work.

IV. Don’t bring a date.

At least not in the early stages of the courting process—unless, of course, you are both Level Nine Gourmands and see gluttony as a welcome quality in a potential partner or lover. Personally, I want someone to be heavily invested in a relationship before they see me cry myself to sleep from voluntary overconsumption. (Maybe twelve months in, give or take.)

Friends and family only. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

V. Do share.

While dining at Joe Beef, I watched with puzzled astonishment as a nearby couple consumed three courses each, without sharing so much as a single bite. “How’s the so-and-so?” one would ask, with that passive-aggressive, pseudo-enthusiasm that only long-term cohabitation can inspire, to which the other would return, “Good, how’s your so-and-so?”

Perhaps one half of that pair had a highly communicable condition, who knows? Point is, they got Joe Beef wrong, approaching it with all the ardor of a business luncheon, say, or the sandwich table at a wake: stiffly, sadly, obligatorily.

Putting aside personality and choice of partner—possibly beyond your control—you might prevent this with the following, presented as a preface to your order: “We’re going to share everything”.

Do you really need an explanation as to how the communal consumption of food makes for a better eating experience? Must I get grandiose and proclaim, in a Richard-Attenborough-like register, that, “Since the dawn of time, humankind has, on a daily basis, dined collectively, seated around a fire?”

You get my point. Share, people.

VI. Do ask for recommendations.

And not, “What are the specialties of the house?” Look your server in the eyes and say, with sincerity, “What do you love on the the menu right now?”

Chances are, they might lob you a softball, aimed at the tourists and weekend warriors, but then throw out the real recommendations, for the epicurean elite.

VII. Do trust the waitstaff.

Follows from the previous point. Confide in them, for they know more about food and wine than you.

VIII. Do step out of your comfort zone.

This restaurant offers you the rare opportunity to taste things that, when they stop serving them, you’ll never encounter again, outside of a faded cookbook or an obscure corner of France.

Order the unfamiliar. Anything “en gelée”. Anything bone marrow or skin. Anything offal, anything offcut.

And don’t worry: It’s all delicious. Plus, since you’re sharing, the odds of finding something to your liking are highly in your favour.

IX. Do order strategically.

A basic formula, take note: three to four starters and one main course for two people. Scale up as per the number of your party.

X. Do order dessert.

An essential element of the Joe Beef experience. If you haven’t figured it out yet, eating soft-serve ice cream out of a ceramic crab will make clear, that though this restaurant shares standards of quality with the starchiest of fine-dining establishments, you’re meant to have fun here. Behave accordingly.

XI. Don’t play with your phone.

The kids are fine (and having more fun without you), the news is bad, and #noonecares about your social media.

Be present, pay attention – “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” blares in the background. This is your cue to relax and enjoy. Tomorrow and your worries can wait.

XII. Don’t take pictures.

Look, the lighting is low, the food neither finessed nor fair—and your pictures suck, anyhow. Hate to break it to you.

If, for posterity’s sake, you feel the need, take the picture and be done with it, please. The pitch-perfect atmosphere needs neither the glare of your smartphone screen nor its camera flash.

XIII. Do your best.

Here, the house always wins. Part and parcel of the Joe Beef experience. So, there’s no shame in raising the white flag and sending a course back, slightly uneaten.

But, before you do that, dig deep. Take another bite.

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