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Nov 7, 2012 05:43 PM

Joan's In The Park -- Saint Paul

I see a few others wrote about this place last Spring. We had not been until recently. My wife and I had dinner at JITP twice in the last two weeks; once with our 12 year old daughter, and once on a Saturday night with an old friend. The place was packed both times. We had a reservation, and the wait was reasonable. It is pretty small, with tables crammed toether Euro-style. I like the cozy atmosphere.

Overall I would echo the very positive reports from previous Hounds. First off, the service at this place is absolutely top notch. Everyone on staff seems to be genuinely glad you are there, and really want you to enjoy your visit. There don't seem to be any "hipster/starving artist/I think I'm so much cooler than you (but I'm not very good at my job)" types on staff, unlike many TC places where the food is very good but the service is not. They accomodated several special requests re food prep without any difficulty. One time I arrived with a bottle of Champagne in hand. Flutes and a bucket properly filled with ice-water appeared at our table w/o me saying a word. They were very attentive to pacing and what order we wanted dishes brought out in. No detail was missed.

The food ranged from very good to excellent. A small number of entrees are on offer -- steaks, chicken, seafood. All were very well executed. I had scallops once, snapper the second time. Both were delicious. The guy next to me had teh ribeye, and man it looked yummy. The appetizers were fabulous. My wife raved about the beef carpaccio, and the chorizo stuffed prunes are wonderful. The carmelized brussels sprouts cooked in malpe syrup are a real treat. The lamb meatballs looked very good. Desserts were solid.

My only small kvetch is the wine list. Which is somewhat odd, because I got the feeling that some of the people there really know wine. (They have proper stemwear, decanters, and ice buckets.) But at the end of the day the list is mediocre. They have a bunch of relatively inexpensive (for a restaurant) wines. Many are New World. None are standouts, and some are pretty lame. The good news is that the corkage is a reasonable $20, so we will likely just bring our own. But JITP could definietly step up its game by replacing some of the oaky, overextracted New World vinos with more classic, food friendly French choices in the same price range, and also add a few $50-$60 bottles to the list of mostly $30 bottles.

Very nice to have a welcoming place, run by a real person, turning out tasty food in Saint Paul.

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  1. Thanks for the reminder. We need to get back to Joan's. The food is really quite good.

    1. Last time I was in (and I can't really remember when it was, maybe early spring?) they told me they were going to be having weekend brunch dining on the patio. I was so very much looking forward to that. I don't know if it never happened or if it did and it just went over my head, but I really wish they'd do that. Of course, wrong season for that now.


      1 Reply
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        The patio looked really inviting -- in about 7 months.

      2. Yah, I don't know what it is about the wine list. I've eaten at JITP no less than 10 times, and always bring my own. At first I also brought my own stemware, but now Joan has the good stuff waiting for me when I've reserved a table. I'll have to ask. Could be a space issue. Could be they are able to move what they currently stock. Who knows?

        Regarding patio... It didn't really materialize until this fall. So, yep, next spring.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          Oh, I didn't know the patio had materialized at all but I am so thrilled to hear that it happened. I know the season is over now, but when was it open? Did they pull it together for weekend brunch? Both days of the weekend or just Sunday? And was it kid friendly? (I would say the restaurant itself is NOT kid friendly.)

          Off to check out their website...

          ETA--no patio mention on their website. If it was ever mentioned, they removed it for the season.


          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            Brad -- my theory is the steakhouse background. I believe the Chef came from Capital Grill and had worked at other steakhouses in the past. In my experience the well-known steakhouses have absolutely the worst wine lists on the planet. The JITP list looks like a less-overpriced version of the Capital Grill list.

            1. re: Michael Florey

              Michael, you are right about the pedigree of the chef. The difference between the list at CG and JITP, as you noticed, is the price. :o)

              I'm still going to say something to Joan.

          2. Have heard nothing but positives. Your comment re:quality of the service is tempting as you completely nailed the usual problem with service in your comments. However, places which are constantly swamped are not always that pleased to see a solo diner. Do they have an 'eat at the bar" facility did you notice?

            2 Replies
            1. re: bishopsbitter

              Yes there is a bar, and people often eat there.

              1. re: bishopsbitter

                And you will get equally good service at the bar.

              2. I went for the first time last night and had the special - some fish from the Mediterranean. It was cooked moist with crisp skin. Lovely spices. Beautiful roasted carrots. All very simple. I hope to go back again soon and try something else.