JoJo

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JoJo was yet another pick by my father-in-law, whose qualifications for choosing restaurants include “Does this place have whiskey?” and not much else. Fun fact: JoJo does! It also has live jazz!

Sadly, we were seated away from the jazz, upstairs in a cozy booth. Even with reservations, we didn’t get here early enough to get their prime music-viewing seats. After some deliberation (and a too-short beer draft list), three of us decided to split a bottle of Malbec, and I ordered the A Train cocktail (aka Manhattan with a related name). I was satisfied with everything: my cocktail was very strong, and the wine was tasty.

I had a hard time choosing food, not because the menu was so extensive (it was!) but more because I was stumped when it came to their classic food. Being at JoJo made me feel like Betty Draper in Mad Men or something; the cuisine was all out of some 1950’s fancy restaurant playbook. Steak, herbed chicken, wilted spinach, that kind of thing. Part of me really wanted one of their salmon dishes, but the other part of me kept nagging that I cook salmon all the time at home. I eventually settled on the blackened chicken with shrimp.

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I’ll be honest. Was this chicken-veggie-rice combo fairly standard and basic? Totally. But damn if it wasn’t tasty. The vegetables were varied and roasted perfectly. The shrimp were coated in a sweet mustard sauce. The chicken was moist and had the right amount of seasoning. Even the rice was surprisingly okay. I could have cooked this dish at home, but it wouldn’t have tasted this perfect.

My in-laws were up next with the lobster ravioli and the steak in bourbon sauce. Once again, it was pretty good ravioli, but elevated just a little. The vodka sauce it came in was rich and interesting. The steak was cooked a beautiful medium-rare. My father-in-law had ordered medium but I assume the chef thought that would be an affront to all steak everywhere (it is) and decided to cook it to his or her own specification instead. I appreciate that level of decisiveness. The bourbon sauce was rich and alcohol-y.

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My husband had the Triple B burger, which is really just a normal burger with remoulade (read: mayonnaise). It was cooked to specification and had ample meat and toppings. The shoestring fries were also quite tasty, although the whole thing was very classic again.

Price: $40 per person.

Bottom line: At JoJo, you pay a premium for cool live music. Prices are high but not outlandish, and the food is unimaginative but executed well. Like your grandma’s house, but with Manhattans, reasonable portions, and a stand-up bass.

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