Pardon my lame joke, but I just decided to do a little play on words even though I’m not entirely sure how “Joe Fortes” is actually pronounced. I’ve heard about 4 different variations and did a little research on the internet, and according to Wikipedia the Spanish pronunciation is “FOR-tes”. So let’s go with that.
I’ve heard many great things about this restaurant that has long been on my To Try list. The reason I was able to try this place out during DineOut was because I eavesdropped over a conversation between my mom and her co-workers, who were planning to go during their lunch break one day. As soon as I heard the word “DineOut”, I found myself running down the stairs and standing in front of her under less than 30 seconds. Anyone who knows me should know my motto: “Fiona is ALWAYS down for food”.
Thank goodness for having only one morning class on Thursdays! Despite suddenly being called in to work that morning, I insisted on having lunch and showing up to work at 3 instead of 2 as requested. We went on a sunny day, so the beautiful sunlight was able to seep in through the ceiling-to-floor windows. We were seated at a table near the wine wall, with a ladder propped against the side. For a restaurant that has been operating for nearly 30 years, I’d say the restaurant has been well-maintained. Obviously, there remains traces of architectural designs that were popular during the 1980’s, but that is what adds a classic touch to the restaurant.
The DineOut menu offered by Joe Fortes was set at $15.95 for 2 courses, or an extra $2 for 3 courses. I found this a little odd, but nonetheless a clever tactic, since most people would be inclined to pay a little more to have the full DineOut experience. My mom and I were no different. Their menu also differed slightly from other participating restaurants because I noticed that their menu was only valid Monday to Friday, between January 20th and January 31st.
The dishes offered were seemingly basic, but I was definitely impressed by how well each one turned out to be. There is no dispute that Joe Fortes uses excellent ingredients to bring out the best flavours of the ocean. My appetizer was, no doubt soup again! What delighted me about the New England Clam Chowder the most were the Westminster Bakers Co. Oyster Crackers on the side. I recently had these in Seattle, at Pike Place Chowder (which I will blog about later on). Don’t like oysters? Fear not, neither do I! To my surprise, when I tried these oyster crackers, they tasted like normal crackers and nothing of oysters.
Also, special mention to the bread & dip at this restaurant, because for dip they went the further step and added in lobster oil into the usual balsamic vinegar. Good thing nobody at the table was allergic (they did prompt us, don’t worry)!
We were a party of 4, so this time I was lucky to have sampled other entrées in addition to my own Panko Crusted Haddock, including the Chicken Linguini and the West Coast Fish Cakes. The presentations of the dishes were ample for $18 at a fine-dining restaurant designated $$$$ by Urbanspoon. My favourite remained the Haddock, with second being the Crab Cakes, and Chicken Linguine last.
The Vanilla Crème Brûlée was one of the best I’ve had these past 2 weeks (as I mentioned, out of the many, including at Les Faux Bourgeois). Lovely presentation sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar!
Joe Fortes was probably one of my favourite DineOut restaurants this year. At the end, we were approached by our waitress with a stack of cardstock paper and a couple of pens. They were entries to win a gift card from Joe Fortes, and also feedback forms which I felt were a nice gesture to show how much customers were valued at their restaurant. Although I mentioned earlier that I don’t like oysters, maybe one day I will have the courage to come back and try my very first RAW oyster.
*Afternote: a few days ago, I received a letter in the mail from Joe Fortes which got me all excited thinking I won the gift card (because my whole family is usually really lucky with winning raffle prizes). I opened the envelope, and was slightly disappointed that no gift card had been enclosed. Rather, however, there was a handwritten note expressing a heartfelt thanks to us for visiting and hoping to see our return. Who writes handwritten notes anymore these days, right!?
Therefore, I wish to express here: thank you for the great experience, Joe Fortes!