Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Joey Don Mills: Globally Inspired Casual Cuisine

Since launching its first restaurant in Calgary just over 10 years ago, Joey Restaurant Group has built a strong and loyal following with 18 locations across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Washington and now two in Toronto: Joey Don Mills and Joey Eaton Centre. Owned by Jeff Fuller of the restaurant empire family who own Joey and Earls restaurants, he describes Joey restaurants as having "an edgy menu, engaging service and contemporary design." Staff undergo 20 hours training to learn Joeys’ service philosophy, food and wine. "We also put a lot of time and effort making our restaurants and menus are unique from location to location." For a big box casual fine dining chain, they seem to have the recipe for success. 

The casually elegant dining room at Joey Don Mills

With Joey's innovative global cuisine, cool hip interior styling, and charming, attractive servers, the restaurant's busy from lunch through dinner until closing. The interior design of Joey Don Mills features a mixture of maple and walnut wood, distressed leather booths, modern accent and dome lighting and wide plank smoked wood floors, with a central concrete, glass and brushed nickel staircase that leads to the second floor and out onto their spectacular rooftop patio, perfect for summertime al fresco dining. 

Joey Don Mills rooftop outdoor patio

Under the culinary direction of Joey's Executive Chef Chris Mills, the 40-year-old chef who once placed fifth in the Bocuse d’Or and competed on the original Iron Chef, comes a menu that gallops all over the globe. Chris is renowned for taking classic dishes and putting a global twist on them, inspired by his extensive travels throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim, as reflected in such innovative offerings as Miso-Chicken Ramen, Pan Fried Gyoza and Penang Prawn Curry from the Far East, Tandoori Chicken Flatbread and Bombay Butter Chicken from India, and Lobster Ravioli and Spicy Seafood Linguine from Italy.

Joey's Executive Chef Chris Mills
photo: Rob Newell

A recent afternoon when we lunched at Joey Don Mills, we chose the mile-high Mushroom & Cheddar Burger with yam fries and truffle lemon aioli, an Ahi Tuna Club with red pepper relish, arugula and panko onion rings and their sensational  Sashimi Tuna Salad with mixed greens, peanuts, avocado and cilantro mint dressing. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find any recipes online for their Sashimi Salad, but I did find a couple of other great recipes by Chris Mills, like Joey's famous Wild & Creamy Mushroom Soup. Enjoy!

Mushroom Cheddar Burger with yam fries and truffle lemon aioli

Ahi Tuna Club with red pepper relish, arugula and panko onion rings

Sashimi Tuna Salad with mixed greens, peanuts, avocado and cilantro mint dressing

Organic Brown Wild Rice, Almond & Currant Salad
Serves 4-6 
Recipe courtesy Chris Mills, Joey Restaurants

1 cup organic brown rice, cooked
2 cups white rice, cooked
1/4 cup wild rice
1 cup red pepper, carrots, celery, onion, garlic
1 oz currants
1/4 cup almonds, whole toasted
1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basic vinaigrette

Basic vinaigrette:
1 cup olive and vegetable oil, blended
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
to taste salt & pepper

Whisk olive and vegetable oil into the other vinaigrette ingredients to make a stable, emulsified dressing. In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients and dress with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. 

Wild and Creamy Mushroom Soup
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy Chris Mills, Joey Restaurants

1/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/4 cups minced onion
3 tbsp salted butter
3 cups mixed white, cremini & wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp dried tarragon, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp medium-dry sherry
1 bunch scallions, chopped for garnish
Wild cooked mushrooms, sautéed, for garnish

Grind the dried porcini in a blender until it becomes a powder. Cook the onion with a tablespoon butter in a large pot, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened about 5 minutes. Then add the fresh mushrooms, porcini powder, sea salt, tarragon, oregano, and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are tender about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook, stirring, until melted. Sprinkle in the flour and cook stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick and golden, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits, until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining broth in a stream, whisking until the liquid is smooth. 

Using a blender, purée the soup to your desired consistency, then return to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and Sherry and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Serve hot garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche, sliced mushrooms, some chopped chives and finish with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Almond, Lemon & Ricotta Cake with Fresh Raspberries
Makes a 10 inch cake
Recipe courtesy Chris Mills, Joey Restaurants

9 oz blanched almonds
2 oz flour
7 lemons, zest only but reserve juice
3 lemons, juiced
8 oz unsalted butter, softened
9 oz sugar
6 each organic eggs, separated
10 oz fresh ricotta
1 cup crème fraiche
2 pints fresh raspberries
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a 10-inch round cake tin and line with parchment paper. Coarsely chop the almonds in a food processor. Combine with the flour and lemon zest. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer until pale and light. Add the egg yolks one by one before adding the almond mixture, being careful not over mix.

Put the ricotta in a bowl and lightly beat with a fork. Add the lemon juice. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the almond mixture and finally stir in the ricotta.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour until set. Test by inserting a skewer, which should come out clean. Remove from the tin while still warm, and let cool on a cake rack. 

Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve with a generous helping of crème fraiche and local raspberries.

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