An inviting space and attentive service, but what about the food?

joy88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Its name offers a cozy promise, but Joy restaurant on Rehov Emek Refaim in the German Colony has yet to win points for fine food. The prices are relatively cheap, the space is inviting and the service is friendly and professional, but they have forgotten one little detail: It helps a restaurant if there is someone who can cook, too. On a visit last week to this grill and beer restaurant, I found it difficult to eat; my jaw dropped in absolute astonishment. The restaurant's kitchen still has a long way to go to catch up with its looks and with the stylish kosher crowds of the German Colony. We were seated in the relatively new extended section of the dining room toward the back, where a huge poster portraying a prickling cactus adorns a striking red wall. Other sections of the eatery are enclosed by Jerusalem-stone arched walls, with eclectic ornaments displayed in small niches. In fact, everything in the restaurant reminds you of somewhere else, and the mixed-and-matched creates a pleasing original effect. But the key to fine cooking lies in the ingredients used - freshness and spicing make the difference between mediocre cooking and the best - and this is where Joy goes down. A simple tapenade spread served prior to our meal was made from canned black olives. Even the fresh bread that came with the meal couldn't rescue them. The appetizer of sliced sirloin roast beef was somewhat rubbery but it was served with a fairly good side salad in a tasty dressing. Our main courses, I regret to say, were poor. The first was a Cornish hen on a bed of mashed potatoes with sumac seeds. It was sent back to the kitchen after a few bites revealed an undercooked pink center. The potatoes, too, were undercooked. "I don't like raw chicken either!" said the waiter who was quick to apologize, adding that we wouldn't be charged for the order. The other main course was an entrecote steak that should not have been allowed to leave the kitchen - it was distinctly burned on one side - especially for a customer who orders medium-rare. The steak was served with the same undercooked mashed potatoes. The side order of deep-fried potatoes came out of the kitchen in no time but was definitely soggy and unappealing. At this point we figured that though desserts might be a nice refreshment, we were not about to stay; we asked for the bill, which came to NIS 200, including the soft drinks for the three of us. I hope that,in time, Joy will be able to recapture the spirit it had when it originally opened. Joy Grill and Beer. 24 Rehov Emek Refaim. Open Sunday through Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday from 12 noon until Shabbat, Saturday after Shabbat. Tel: 1-599-530033. (kosher)