The second installment of REVEALED! takes a look at a long standing Boston institution, Joe's American Bar and Grill.
Don't call it American Joe's--its just Joe's (Joe's on the waterfront or Joe's on Newbury Street if you are getting specific). The restaurant is owned by the Back Bay Restaurant Group which also owns Abe & Louie's, Atlantic Fish Company, Charley's, Papa Razzi, The Coach Grill (in Wayland, Mass.), and the newest addition, Bouchee. All of these restaurants usually provide a solid dining experience....but as wise, informed restaurant consumers, it is important to know that all of these restaurants are managed centrally.
Its location on longwharf, a touristy area of the city, means the restaurant is prone to out-of-town visitors. This was the case on the day we were there, and an obnoxious couple was seated next to us. The woman carried her own SmartWater into the restaurant along with a snobby attitude (even though she was wearing Sketchers!) towards the whole experience. They ordered two shrimp cocktails after being told that 3pm was too late for brunch. During the remainder of the time they sat there, the woman talked the entire time on her bluetooth headset, while the man stared off into space.
Our server was not very "into" our table--on a beautiful Sunday for lunch the restaurant was crowded (as I'm sure it usually is) and the food didn't come for a very long time. Other tables were being served that had been seated after us--I'm not sure what that was about--maybe it was because Marco ordered a garden salad to start (see the picture of brown iceberg lettuce below). I have had great burgers at Charley's, so I was expecting something similar here. I was disappointed that the burger was small, even tough it tasted fine. All of use who had ordered burgers were interested to see that our lettuce garnishes had wilted--indicating that *perhaps* our food sat under a heat lamp for a long time. Marco's steak tips were cold--he should have sent them back--but he ate them anyway. It took us an eternity to get the check, as we watched the table with the obnoxious couple morph into a table of even more obnoxious drunk guys (this was at like 3:30pm on a Sunday....come on, there was no need for these men to be pounding down beers at an overpriced tourist trap).
Fortunately the food and service did not ruin the experience of sitting harborside on a great September weekend day. If it is people watching and a view you are in search of, Joe's delivers. If good food and attentive service is your aim, I would try Joe's other Boston location on Newbury Street or another restaurant group all together.