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Joe's Bar and Grill, Summertown
Occasionally I meet the up and coming generation who represent the future of business and society in this country. As far as I am concerned, the young get a very bad press. The efforts of successive generations of teenagers in the Young Enterprise initiative where they set up and run businesses for an academic year never cease to amaze me.
Sometimes they are mature beyond their years and are more than capable of teaching their elders a thing or two about life and even business.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to entertain a couple of teenagers recently, I greeted the prospect with some trepidation.
Obviously there was the problem of what to talk about and how to present myself without coming across like a pompous “suit” while also trying to avoid being too “down with the kids” which is probably even worse.
I needed to pitch it so that I was cool enough to know the Black Eyed Peas aren’t just a side dish, listen knowingly about Facebook and apps and be aware of de rigueur clothing companies such as Superdry and Jack Wills.
I also needed somewhere to eat. Teenagers can be particular but are usually satisfied with an offering from Dominos or Nandos.
Surprisingly I am not so easily pleased and wanted to find an establishment that perhaps did not end in the letters “os.”
I decided to compromise by choosing Joe’s Bar and Grill in Summertown.
My reasoning was that this was an establishment that could serve fast food that could also potentially taste as good for the adults as well as a couple of Oxford’s In Betweeners. And it had that “os” sound and I’m sure the different spelling mattered little to the text generation.
The place is a bar which offered a smell of forbidden fruit and also the possibility of casually mentioning to their friends: “Oh yeah, man, we were in Joe’s last night.”
So it was we found ourselves comfortably encapsulated in one of the American diner-style booths where we were rapidly presented with menus.
There is a good choice of reasonably priced dishes at Joe’s. The main menu is unpretentious while it’s also worth pointing out that brunch is served every day from 9.30am and there is a special £5 lunch deal. Free wi-fi is also a plus for those wanting to work and eat at the same time.
To drink my companion and I chose a Spanish white wine which was fruity and dry, although I would have liked to see more French and Italian choices on the menu. The two youngsters had Cokes.
So far, so good. It was also a safe bet that they would choose burgers and so it transpired with my companion also joining them in the choice of a free-range chicken filling for the bun.
A cheddar cheese topping was also ordered for one at 95p above the £8 cost and they could have chosen a range of others including aubergine, bacon and roast garlic aioli.
With portions of chips on the side and lots of ketchup, there were no complaints and the fact the table fell quiet for a few minutes was testimony to the quality of the food.
Meanwhile, I had opted for the rack of barbeque ribs which came served with homemade coleslaw and skinny fries.
This is a dish I was confident I would enjoy and I was not disappointed. The ribs were tender with a mouthwatering sauce and the creamy, crunchy coleslaw proved the perfect accompaniment. In fact, my slightly more ambitious choice provoked some jealousy across the table but it fell on deaf ears.
Fortunately the conversation was flowing with talk of friends and family as well as the teenagers’ ambitions as they entered the brave new world of sixth form having successfully overcome the GCSE hurdle.
Time for dessert and although i had tried to avoid acting like a parent for most of the evening, my desire to trim the bill saw me reverting to type a little by encouraging the youngsters to select a kids choice rather than the likes of eton mess and creme brulee at £5.50 each.
But they seemed happy with the carrot and chocolate cakes which was also the choice of my companion — the staff seemed to have no qualms about serving the cheaper options to the adults. However, if I thought I had saved money there it was quickly lost when the order for two milkshakes went in to accompany the cake.
That left me crying into my Irish coffee which went some way towards nullifying the pain of the overall bill.
As it turned out, Joe’s had been an excellent choice for what I had identified as a potentially tricky situation.
Its relaxed atmosphere, excellent service and good quality food are a combination hard to find elsewhere. Everyone was happy, not least the teenagers who, no doubt, will be returning on their own in the future without the adults spoiling the party.
Three Cokes: £6.60 Wine: £14.50 BBQ ribs: £10.75 Three Chicken burgers: £26.85 + extra cheddar cheese: 95p Two Chips: £5.90 Three children’s cake portions: £7.50 Two milkshakes: £6.50 Irish coffee: £4.25