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Note: The chef’s response to this review and my response to him are in the comments. My follow-up comments are here.

I’m going to go out on a limb, and guess that when Joe Dobias was trying to pick a catchy name for his East Village restaurant, he didn’t hire any publicity or marketing firms for advice. That might explain how he came up with JoeDoe, a name that conveys—nothing in particular.

Of course, “Momofuku” conveyed nothing in particular before David Chang turned it into a household word, but usually it’s better to choose a name that conveys at least something about the kind of food you’re trying to serve. We can’t all be David Chang.

Dobias describes his cuisine as “Aggressive American,” whatever that means. He certainly has a way with words when it comes to naming his dishes. During Passover season, he served liver and bacon on challah, calling it “The Conflicted Jew.” Other examples on a recent menu include “Some Really Nice Butt” and “Duck Egg is King.”

He works in a tiny slip of a space scarcely bigger than a bathroom (above right). There is a prep kitchen downstairs, and runners bring stuff in throughout the evening, but Dobias seems to do all the cooking and plating by himself.

The restaurant has just seven tables and six bar stools, which is probably as much as Dobias can handle when it is full—if it ever is. On a Friday evening, just one other table was occupied.

The menu is uncomplicated, with just half-a-dozen appetizers ($9–12) and as many entrées ($19–27). There are also several bar snacks at about $4 each, but during happy hour they’re free. We had the Mutton Meatballs (left), which were the best thing we had all evening. A comped order of fried chickpeas was excellent.

The beverage menu offers an array of house cocktails and “prepared beers,” the latter being mixed drinks made with beer instead of spirits. I lubricated my meal with a couple of these, as I don’t recall seeing them in any other restaurant, and the wine list was minimal.

I loved the Hipster BBQ (Dale’s Pale Ale, organic vodka, seasoned salt, fresh lime and zest), but I didn’t care for the somewhat bitter taste of Alice in JoeDoe Land (Smuttynose ale, absinthe, gingered kumquat, chamomile tea).

As we sat down for dinner, the staff pointed out a rule prohibiting photography, which purportedly annoys the other guests—notwithstanding that there weren’t any, aside from a loving couple at the opposite end of the room who, we are sure, did not notice our non-flash camera. So we are unable to show you the photos of what we ate, which looked a lot better than it tasted.

A Veev Cured Scallop ($12) made a dull impression. Veev (a brand of vodka) contributed little, other than its fancy name. A schmear of jalapeno mayo was more than the scallop needed, but not enough to spread on the accompanying crisp bread. A salad of cured pork on lukewarm cooked green vegetables also misfired.

Pork belly, a posted special, was over-cooked and dry. “Duck, duck, hock,” consisting of tiny gnocchi, a duck egg, and I believe duck ham, was at least correctly prepared, though I would be in no rush to order it again. (The website says that the third ingredient is rock shrimp, but I am pretty sure that is not what we had.)

On Eater.com, editor Amanda Kludt described JoeDoe as “a restaurant that means well,” but found it “disappointing and somewhat bafflingly presented.” That’s about right. It’s obvious that Dobias didn’t open this restaurant to get rich, and he certainly doesn’t take the easy way out. Its quirky offerings often sound interesting, but when the plates arrive the payoff isn’t there.

In a neighborhood that teems with compelling dining options, it’s hard to take JoeDoe seriously. I’d stop in for a cocktail and a snack; then head elsewhere.

JoeDoe (45 E. 1st Street between First & Second Avenues, East Village)

Food: mediocre
Service: good
Ambiance: pleasant
Overall: disappointing

References (1)

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Reader Comments (55)

Marc this is a malicious post based on the fact that you were upset b/c the server told you not to take pictures. What you fail to tell everyone is that is says it clearly at the top of me menu. "No pictures during service hrs please". You are too arrogant for rules I guess. Further, I cooked for you and at no time when you and your companion were licking your plates could I see a problem with cooking of items or with the taste. I think your bitter, and I feel sorry for you. You should have done your research with credible sources like NYT, The NY Sun, NYmag, TimeOutNY....and you would have seen that maybe my place is doing the right things, maybe you just don't get it. But no, you look to Eater and there staff of 20something idiots for food knowledge? The post you referenced was from august of 2008?? That is ok, but in the future stick to facts not your emotion. Blogging is a silly science with no rules and the players often times have zero concept of working in a restaurant, running one and most shockingly eating at one. I would like you to extend me the offer to sit next to you at your job (let me guess something to do with computers?) and then "blog" about how bad you are after you offend my sensibilities. JoeDoe is polarizing, but doesn't deserve or warrant blog posts by angry little men. If you wanted pics and or credibilty you should have taken the offer to take pic in non-service hrs. That is what a gentleman would have done. Lastly, my resto is in the EV the only people who eat at 6:30 on a friday are the dinosaurs they serve at Prune. Do yourself a favor and think before you write your next slapdash piece.

June 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefjoedoe

Thanks for the comments, Joe. Despite the argumentative tone, I shall try to respond to them in a serious fashion.

The “no photo” rule appears on the menu in fairly small print, which I did not notice until the server pointed it out. Once the server made the request, I of course complied. It is true that the server offered the opportunity to come back and shoot photos another time. That is generous of you, but I don’t see why I am obligated to take you up on it.

Although I think it is silly to prohibit flash-free photos in an empty restaurant, it has nothing whatsoever to do with my opinion of the food you served. In fact, my girlfriend—who is rather ambivalent about my blogging hobby—felt much more strongly negative about the food than I did. The review would have been much more harsh had she been writing it.

Before visiting, I did read all of the reviews in the NYT, the Sun, etc. It was partly because of those reviews that I visited your restaurant. But that doesn’t mean that they form my opinions for me. Sometimes I like a place better than the pro critics did, and sometimes I like it less. Every review, including mine, is just one data point.

I do not claim any expertise at running a restaurant. I also require none. Chefs don’t just cook for experts. No “expert” is entitled to tell me that I am supposed to have loved the food I was served. It’s funny, but when I write positive reviews (there are plenty on this site), no chef ever writes in to complain. If I am not qualified to write negative reviews, then presumably I am not qualified to write the positive ones either. But when I happen to dislike something, it offers a convenient “out” to say that the writer (allegedly) didn’t know what he was talking about, was malicious, or whatever. I am sorry, but I reject the idea that the right to an opinion about food is limited to “experts.”

Incidentally, we didn’t “lick our plates,” though I admit we did finish them—we were hungry. I can quite believe that you saw no problem with them. I am sure that you, like most chefs, are trying sincerely to do a great job. But people do not always succeed at what they intend to do. Otherwise, there would never be failed restaurants.

Thanks for the offer to sit next to me at my job, and “blog” about what I do, but it is not relevant. I do not have a job that directly serves the public. If the people I work for are dissatisfied, believe me, I would hear about it. In fact, the consequences would probably be much more dire than if one isolated customer comes into your restaurant and says he had a mediocre meal.

Lastly, I’ve eaten plenty of early Friday dinners in the East Village, and I’ve never seen a restaurant as empty as yours was.

June 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

Marc I dont need your opinion nor do other chefs. The reason they dont respond is bc you are a blogger and should not matter. But when you kill yourself for a living like I do, it is very tough to stomach an angry little mans opinion. Who honestly care what you think and further how dare you and the other shithead bloggers. You made your snap judgement on one visit and further as I said you have zero credibility for writing reviews. That was the only reason i responded here. You are wrong about my food and the restaurant, you simply have no taste judging on your paste "reviews"......stop your malicious bullshit and stop this site! YOU ARE NOT A FOOD WRITER AND WILL NEVER BE YOU NASTY LITTLE MAN!! I have to correct you again, your wife absolutely ate everything except the white on the plate, she didn't like it more than you? Whatever! Pics were the only reason you were nasty like the little kid who doesnt get ice cream before dinner. It is 9:30am time to cook brunch hopefully not for some nasty little bald men like you. I will make sure I call my friends to look at for you George Constanza.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefjoedoe

Now this is getting humorous.

For the record, only one other restaurant has ever asked me not to take photos. I liked the place and have been back four or five times. Your photo policy had nothing to do with my opinion of your food.

In the restaurant business, “snap judgments on one visit” are a fact of life. If customers don’t enjoy their first meal, there probably won’t be a second. And whatever they thought of it, they’ll probably tell their friends.

I loved your last sentence. Are you going to tell every restaurant in town not to serve bald men in their late 40s? Good luck with that.

June 27, 2009 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd


I dined at your restaurant a while back and wrote a review. I don't know if you had a rule against taking pictures then, but I took plenty and nobody stopped me. And I still had considerable reservations about what you were serving.

I certainly don't always agree with Marc, but he's giving his honest opinion; for myself, I have found that chefs love blogs when they get great reviews. If other "bloggers" love your cooking, then why worry about Marc - or me? If you are finding similar criticisms repeated by different writers at different times, perhaps you should consider what they're saying.

All the best.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWilfrid

dont get me started on you wilfred.....i remember you and your snooty blog. Since when do English guys get to comment on food. Just sit down let marc finish what he started. Little does he see that if he didn't like it he could simply not go back. But to post opinions and mask them as facts as all you bloggers do is wrong. period

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefjoedoe

Was talking specifically about you high and mighty priest. Want to make sure that my fellow restaurant folks who kill themselves dont have to fight this fight. You are a hapless shameless little person. The fact that you can spend money doesn't make you have valid opinions or statements.......I can say the moon is too big. Doesn't make it so. I couldn't even imagine how to compute the size. Kinda like you. You come in with no training, no schooling, and probably as I always say no real life experience working in a restaurant. And yes, that matters to all of us. Blogging is a game played mostly by stuck up little kids and you are just the same, just with a lot less hair. Get bent as my man bart simpson used to say. Hope never to see you around.....ever!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefjoedoe

How about I come into your workplace and criticize what you do for 23 hours a day? Yeah... you wouldnt appreciate it much. Next time...invite me in to where you work (your real work) and Ill tell you what I think of it. Joe spent his whole life in a kitchen and his whole financial life paying for Cornell, where he went to school....If your gonna Blog, blog responsibly...not idiotically. Just leave the writing to the professionals. Like the NY times...oh yeah...we will be in next week :)


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefjoedoe

Well, what in interesting commentary... Some comments here: Marc provides a "service" here, you don't have to like it JoJo... Sounds like your little circus is not up to snuff...

Professional Critics whom provide glowing reports about restaurants are few and far between, and most restaurant owners and their staff train for minutes a day to be able to recognize then, such that they can pull out their "a-game" in order to lure in the drones that read their little PUFF pieces, and then accept your average slop...

Restauranteurs INVITE bloggers (and us other regular customers too) in to judge every time you open the door, and when your just getting buy with your average slop. To be a food critic you don't need any other training, than mommy and daddy provided to get the food from the plate to your mouth with the silverware provided... To be a chef YOU could apparently use a bit more training Joe, perhaps you can take some refreshers courses at CU, in cooking and self esteem, then when someone call you on your average slop, you can step back and consider YOUR FAILURES and perhaps step up or move on.


June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I dont often take bloggers or restaurant reviewers opinions to heart. If say a blogger speaks about cockroaches or health code violations I perk up but, opinions are opinions.. My only opinion about Joe Doe is that Joe is a pompous ass and I mean person at that.

Have some class Joe. I would not go to your restaurant now under any circumstances, ever.

As a chef, I should certainly say, you do not speak for anyone besides yourself. And it seems like you do that about as well as you cook.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Oh, Chef...

Punctuation, grammar and spelling go a long way if you want to be taken seriously.

I've never met Marc but I think he knows a thing or two about restaurants, more than you seem to know about graciousness (or life, in general).

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStash

Hey, I've eaten at JoeDoe and had a good meal. Not sure why the restaurant needs to respond to this one blog review. I'd never heard of this blog until this spat was mentioned on Eater today. Anyone can blog. It doesn't mean they have any taste or credibility. The chef needs to chill rather than give this or any other amateur shitty blog any more attention than they deserve beyond their audience of 5 friends.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve


You are one of the most insecure people I have ever heard speak. As a chef who has received countless favorable and negative reviews, I have learned that EVERYONE has an opinion, however close or far reaching that opinion may be. In the service industry, we learn to take criticism and improve upon it. You, on the other hand, have learned to take your Ivy League education and cram it down Marc's throat, with poor punctaution and spelling (for this reason, I don't believe you are in a good place to criticize his work; He is a writer.) Cornell is not a renowned culinary school, I know, because I have had interns from there that do not know dick about food.

After Marc's review, I may still have dined at your restaurant. After your review of Marc, there is no way possible I would pay to taste your food. Perhaps you are better suited not to run a restaurant and try to please people. You cannot stand the heat, and the kitchen is no place for you.

After you realize that this is going to be picked up on every blog, which is the new way of life for restaurants, you will have a hard time extracting your hoof from your bouche. The "dinosaurs" will not come, the "bald men" will not come and I, most certainly, will not come to give my money to you.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Joe, I am a fine dining pastry chef in the city. As a chef/owner, you invite everybody who eats at your restaurant to pass judgement. That's the way it works, and you have to deal with it, the good AND the bad. Instead of being a sore loser, you could listen to the bad reviews, think about them, and perhaps make some changes. Posting angry responses with terrible spelling and grammar just makes you look like a child. Grow up. You're making the rest of us chefs look bad.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranne

Joe - learn how to spell and use grammer pal.

what a jerkoff.

ps. your food reminded me of hot garbage.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason

From JoDoe's Yelp reviews- Clearly Joe reads his Yelp reviews often if he responded within three hours. Actually, other than this review, he has great reviews and they make me want to try JoeDoe... odds are good I will. Is this an example of "all press is good press?"


UPDATE (3 hours after original review posted, guess i can't formally update it on yelp just yet):

Got this message from the restaurant:

"Yelp sucks for this reason. Uneducated people can post stupid things on here. Pork belly is exactly that, a belly of a pig.....fatty....that is like saying bacon is fatty?? Just silly commentary. Kale was the accompanying vegetable not sure what country kale is condsidered to be spinach. Further the server did not taste the dish bc we change the menu daily...it is impossible and extremely costly to tastee every new dish every day. If you liked only the sandwich and the sundae you lack the depth of understanding to appreciate a restaurant like JoeDoe. I think it is unfortunate that people like you offer up sucj harsh critiques....posing like you have a pallete. Please visit another restaurant, preferably one that gives a choice of sald dressing, that is what you need.
Chef JoeDoe"

may as well make the reply public. and my response:
1) my original review was 3 stars and really not that harsh. i picked out things that i liked and mentioned things that i didn't like. i know i'm not frank bruni over here, but yelp is for the masses, of which i am a member.
2) i actually said the pork belly was good, just that it was fat. and i've had a LOT of pork belly where it wasn't 80% fat and 20% meat like it was in this case (my coworker's dish was as well). i emphasized the fattiness in my review because i feel like other patrons would find this info to be useful. i definitely would have found it useful to know before ordering. and again, good dish, just very fatty.
3) spinach, kale, i'm sorry i can't tell the difference... still didn't taste that great. sorry.
4) understandable if you're changing the dishes every day and not everyone is trying it but the waiter literally said "other people have ordered this before" (without offering their positive/negative feedback on it) so please get your story straight.
5) could your response be anymore rude/pretentious? "If you liked only the sandwich and the sundae you lack the depth of understanding to appreciate a restaurant like JoeDoe"?!?!?!?
wow, now i'm sorry that i complimented anything here. apparently if i didn't like EVERYTHING at this restaurant, then i lack the "depth of understanding" to appreciate how AWESOME their restaurant is? hilarious.

i actually would have gone back for the two items i really liked, but now i'm DEFINITELY not going to come back because apparently my business is not welcome. and i will definitely warn all my friends away from it as well.

(((anticipating another angry reply from the restaurant)))


super cute restaurant with both tables and bar seats available. came with two of my coworkers and we ordered the conflicted jew and mussels for appetizers. the first dish was good, the second dish was just ok -- mussels were yum, but the chunks of meat in the dish were dry and bland.

for entrees, two of us ordered the pork belly (mill valley belly on the menu i think), while one of us ordered the duck. incidentally, although our server was really friendly and good about suggesting dishes, he said he'd never tried the duck. i guess that's good he was honest about it, but on a menu of 10 items, how could you not have tried everything at least once? anyway the pork belly was good but VERY VERY fatty. delicious but FAT. the spinach it came with was disappointing though, lacking in flavor and dry.

onto desserts... we got two - the vanilla custard and the banana fosters sundae. the first was mediocre (we only ate about half) and the second was amaaaazing. we killed that thing. if you do go, definitely get the conflicted jew and the banana fosters sundae.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Ditto to Ryan's comments. Based purely on your nasty nature Joe, I won't be into Joe Doe's either. Service is very important to the dining experience. Based on your vile messages, I cannot imagine you treat your customers any better than you do food critics who disagree with you.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnieC

OMG - all of this is too funny - keep the rants coming joeydoe, you're seriously winning over customers left and right!

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersam

Wow Joe. You've just made sure I'll never visit your restaurant, even if you had dozens of great reviews on every other food blog and site out there. Your hostile and rude attitude makes me think that if I had a problem at your place, you'd scream at me, call me names, and throw me out, rather than trying to make it right. I think you just shot yourself in the foot here. Big time.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKara

Can I please re-design the header for your blog :-)?

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteretonic

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