39 Rue Des Jeuneurs (2)
Joia is the second Paris restaurant of the chef Helene Darroze, whose other restaurant, a more formal Michelin 1 Star, reopens following a major renovation in a few weeks, with a new name. She also runs the formal dining room of the Hotel Connaught in London. Her family restaurant credentials go back several generations.
Joia is a modern, casual and, for Paris, unusual concept. It is fun and very good. Where the fun comes from depends on where you sit.
Downstairs has a large communal high-top, a bar virtually in the kitchen and a scattering of tables. Up a beautifully executed reproduction staircase leads to a large, high-ceilinged, less casual room, featuring a beautiful cocktail bar offering snacks and nicely spaced tables serving the full menu.
A modern mix of dishes assembled to please. Our meal began with a prepare-your-own guacamole (a traditional mortar and pestle to mash perfectly ripe avocado, with all of the traditional mix-ins in bowls to add to taste). Most main dishes are offered for 2 (turbot, chicken, etc.). Ours was a single giant slow-cooked short rib served on a cutting board with implements to slice and serve ourselves. Deeply seasoned, beautiful and delicious. For almost the first time ever in Paris, they offered to pack up what we couldn’t finish, including our 2 sides, cauliflower with stilton and fried potatoes. Very large portions. Wine list featuring female wine makers only.
Informal, but effusively friendly. They are having fun, proud of the restaurant and trying hard to assure that clients are too.
Not cheap. 164€ with one drink, 4 glasses of wine, one dessert.