Joel's Malibu Kitchen in Ridgewood
First time at Joel's last night, and wish I could say I'd want to go back. The place is cute and eccentric enough, and the menu is elecletic as all get-out, but the food is mediocre at best.
The main problem- EVERYTHING is coated in, sauteed in glazed with or dressed with so much sugar as to be almost inedible. Each app and entree is flavored with one or another version of a sweet/ sour/spicy sauce or dressing. You really never taste anything except sweet. The place claims to make "California cuisine," but the only thing I've had in California that it resembles is See's candy.
Appetizer salads were so sweet (5 people) couldn't finish them. Pan seared snapper with "Malibu"
shrimp (whatever that is) were two pieces of fish and three shrimp in a sweet citrus sauce that tasted like marmalade. Veal scallopine was napped with the sweetest sherry/butter reduction I've ever tasted.
If the bill for 5 (without wine-the place is BYO) wasn't near $200, I might not quibble. But there are many other options at those prices, in places with more room and nicer service.