BUZZ KILL

Joule Coffee

Being another of the talented restauranteur Ashley Christiansen’s establishments, Joule peaked my interest as soon as it opened.  Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to pay them a visit.

http://ac-restaurants.com/joule/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/joule-coffee-raleigh

outside head on

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

Ambiance: 3 out of 5

Value: 2 out of 5

Service: 4 out of 5

Food/Beverage: 2.5 out of 5

It’s possible that I went in with high hopes, because of how much I enjoy Poole’s Diner.  May be this contributed to why I was so under impressed.

The restaurant is very trendy and attractive. From the outside, the place has huge windows and the bar area seating is nice! As you walk in, you see chalk board walls, not unlike other AC restaurants.

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I really enjoyed the lighting and color scheme.  The issue with this restaurant is similar to the other AC restaurants.  The majority of the tables are group seating types of tables, so if you don’t go with a big enough group, you will end up squashed with another party.  This isn’t such a terrible thing, except when you are sat at a table with a family that brought their toddler that just won’t calm down.  This makes what should be a relaxing breakfast quite the opposite.

The food was alright, overall.  Here’s what’s awkward about Joule.  They open pretty early on Saturday and Sunday, I think at 7am, and serve breakfast.  Simple dishes like eggs and hash browns, yogurt and fruit.  Then they stop serving food for about a half an hour (around the time we arrived – 9:30am) to prep for brunch.  This seems a little silly to me, because their brunch menu isn’t spectacular or elaborate so I don’t really understand why the production of a simple side of hash browns, same as the ones they serve for brunch, would make prepping for brunch necessary.  Alas, this is what they do. They still offer pastries during this in-between time, and coffee.  This menu includes scones and muffins.  We ordered the scones and were very happy with them.  They have a nice texture and flavor, much like biscuits as scones should taste, with a good amount of sweetness.

lattes and scones

An order comes with 5 mini scones, which is almost perfect for sharing between two people.  Their coffee menu is interesting.  This particular day they offered two types of espresso – one that was a little jammy and sweet, the other more traditional.  We ordered one of each, in the vanilla latte, and enjoyed them.  After we finished the lattes, we ordered cups of the regular drip coffee.  Neither of us were fond of this.  The finish was a little stale, as if the beans were just not made for drip coffee.  Joule does offer a large selection of preparations for their coffee and espresso based drinks, including pour over preparation and cold brew.  They will even split your shot of espresso so that you can taste it with and without milk.

I have to say, I was impressed by our server.  She was very friendly, gave great explanations for the items on the menu, knew a lot about the coffee she was serving and was able to give good solid recommendations.  She was timely with our order and our food, wasn’t bothered by all my questions and was dressed in the appropriate AC restaurant hipster ensemble.

On to brunch…The menu was delivered right at the stroke of 10am.  Some of the dishes had grits included, while other sides were served a la cart.  There were several great sounding choices, but being a sucker for hollandaise sauce, I knew I had to order the eggs Benedict ($13).  They were served with porchetta instead of canadian bacon.

benedictI enjoyed the english muffin! It was simple but tasty.  Porchetta is not one of my favorite types of pork so I pulled that off and put it to the side.  While the hollandaise sauce was delicious, the eggs were overcooked.  When I cut into them, the yolk stayed in place.  All in all, I was unimpressed.  On top of that, the hash browns ($4) had no flavor at all and were cold.

My companion ordered the shrimp and grits ($14).  Holy CRAP, those grits were absolutely amazing.  Creamy and rich, with just the right amount of seasoning.  And they were perfectly paired with well seasoned shrimp.  It was very tasty! Had we both ordered that meal, I would have rated the food as a 3, may be even higher.

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Value for the money?  Well, cold potatoes, over cooked eggs…I’d say my meal was overpriced.  And even though my breakfast buddy enjoyed her meal, she still felt as though the price was high.  The lattes were $4.25 for an 11 oz, which is the large.  Not a great value.

I would like to go again to Joule for brunch on a Saturday or later in the day Sunday, to sample one of their amazing sounding cocktails and to give another dish a try.  The place did get packed by the time we were leaving, so if you go, go early or be prepared to wait.

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