I hadn't been to Joe Fortes for quite some time and I had commented on Kim's post that I was in no hurry to return. Yet, it suddenly reappeared on my radar while I was searching for a restaurant in Downtown. I know, there are a lot of choices in Downtown; but the most important criteria is food that my son is willing to eat. No no, we're not going to eat Japanese food again. Besides, we were meeting up with Wolvie and Italian Stallion. You see, Italian Stallion isn't particularly adventurous. Taco Bell is exotic to him! In fact, I'm not even sure he likes anything but his mom's cooking. But really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just ask Kim! Furthermore, we weren't going to suggest a overly expensive place since they were treating.
Normally, Joe Fortes is quite pricey especially during dinner. However, much like other restaurant these days, Joe Fortes has a prix fixe menu: 3 courses for $16.95 and 2 courses for $13.95 Monday thru Friday. To me at least, it seems like a pretty good deal. When we arrived, we had to wait briefly for our table. The reason? I had requested a window seat for 5 and with the restaurant layout, there is only one of two places where that can happen. Credit to them that they gave me exactly what I requested. Once we were seated, it became quite theatrical. No, the staff did not break into song and dance such as the T-Mobile commercial. However, wouldn't that be awesome? Anyways, what I mean is that the service was so attentive and good, it almost seemed like it was over-the-top. Don't get me wrong, I was thoroughly impressed with the service we got, it just seemed a bit contrived.
I must give them kudos for getting the Mac & Cheese out quickly to keep my son happy. This particular version was big and hearty. It came out piping hot. It was extremely cheesy and smooth. My son kept asking for extra Parmesan and the staff quickly obliged every time. He's such a tough customer! For myself, I went for the Fish 'n Chips. Yes, I know, there are other things I could have possibly ordered here, especially the oysters and steak. However, I've been here before and I just wanted to order something different. It turns out that I made a good choice. The two fresh cod fillets were lightly batter and perfectly cooked. Most of the batter was crisp except when I got closer to the middle of each piece. Probably the moisture from the fish (and it was moist) conspired to soften the crisp coating. The tartar sauce was decent; if not pretty standard. Adding a bit more fresh lemon helped improve the flavour. I really wasn't a big fan of the fries, they were cooked quite "well" and lost a bit of its potato texture.
Viv opted for 2 courses, with the first being a Caesar Salad and the main being the Steelhead Salmon with roast potatoes. Not being Sockeye nor Coho, the Steelhead is not one of my favourites. Essentially a ocean trout, it is milder tasting and has less fat (thus less flavour). Despite the material limitations, it was moist while being cooked all the way through. I personally would've liked it a bit undercooked. Wolvie also had the salmon and she added that the roast potatoes were a bit inconsistent. One was perfect, while the other was a bit hard and undercooked. Italian Stallion went for the 5oz Sirloin with mash potatoes. For a smaller size steak, it actually was a decent size. I gave it a try and it was perfectly medium-rare. The meat was moist, flavourful and easy to eat. Not bad for a lunch special.
For the price, I believe that the lunch specials at Joe Fortes are an excellent value. Sure, it's not going to blow your mind and in fact, there will be a few disappointments. However, their food has never really been in direct competition with the finer establishments in town anyways. They are all about the seafood (particularly oysters) and steaks. There will better other options for dinner (especially at their price points); but I have no problem grabbing a bite here for lunch, especially at these prices.
- Really attentive service
- Good value (for lunch)
- Decent portions
- Don't expect ultra-refinement (it's a steakhouse and seafood after all)
- Dinner is considerably more expensive