February 17 2022

Review: Joya Italian Steakhouse

You know those Bath restaurants that are so familiar to you that you think you know what they’re all about? Well that, to me, was Joya: the inviting little weir-side (well okay, just across the road from Pulteney Weir) bistro that, back in the day, I used to rely on to satisfy my cocktail/pasta urges when the cocktail/pasta urge hit (which happened, of course, on a fairly regular basis). It was reliably always good, it was reliably always affordable – and the whole restaurant was decorated throughout in pink, pink and more pink, which to me, offered an extra-added bonus to my all-round comfort zone fix.

But like all of us, Joya has grown up… and subtly morphed into a stylish contemporary bistro decorated in subtly chic shades of mellow to complement the clean-cut, subtle décor. But the menu in general still has a distinctly dolce vita vibe at its cuore, with antipasto platters, arancini, panzerottini, a perfect selection of proper pasta dishes and puds that waltz along to a tiramisu/torta/gelato beat all flying the flavours of the green/white/red foodie flag.

So what about the steakhouse element? Well… that’s not an element to be described in just one line, so you have to read on (and see here); suffice to say, though, at this juncture, who wouldn’t trust a steakhouse bought to you by Tim Coffey, the man behind The Herd (and, a handful of months ago, Casa De Tapas, which isn’t a steakhouse at all, but is really, really good)? So on we roll…

After a genuinely warm welcome (seriously, the Front of House team here are just lovely – friendly, relaxed, efficient, knowledgeable; all the things that you want FoH staff to be, and more): starters up! One calamari, one gamberoni – that’s squid and prawns to you and I. But in Joya world, neither are the kind of either that you or I are all too over-familiar with; here, the calamari is tender, distinctly un-bouncy and wrapped in a super-crisp, featherlight batter, while the king prawns are massive, and sweet, and drenched in a white wine, garlic, chilli, butter and parsley sauce so moreish that I could easily have drunk it by the inelegant pint without either those prawns to carry it along nor the lashings of fresh ciabatta that I ordered for dunking purposes. So far, so good – and Joya is living up to its name. But what about our steak-out?

This is how it rolls: you choose your preferred steak; you choose your preferred seasoning; you choose your preferred infused butter; you choose your preferred sauce – so far, so very “yes, well that’s how one orders steak at a restaurant, isn’t it?” Well, yes but no, but. Because at Joya, you have another choice to make: either order your steak cooked to your preference and have it put down in front of you in that “yes, well that’s how one orders steak at a restaurant, isn’t it?” way. Or…

…have your steak flash-sealed in the kitchen then bought to your table with a very hot volcanic stone for you sear it on, just as you like it, slice by slice. It’s like fondue, without the fiddle! It’s like being your own chef, without the faff! It’s like… it’s just ace, is what it’s like!

I opted for fillet, rosemary salt, truffle butter and Béarnaise. Mr Pig went for ribeye, chilli salt, garlic and parsley butter and gorgonzola sauce. I ordered fat chips, he ordered fries, and we both shared a dish of chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables…

…and then we had a party, right there at our little table for two, dipping and sizzling and seasoning and slathering to our heart’s content with the steaks as special, upper-crust, intelligently sourced, super-flavoursome guests and the side dishes bringing extra-added personality to the fray, the meat at the heart of the matter retaining its quality throughout despite our various cooking times and fiddlings about with the hot stone. It was fun, and interactive, and different. It felt special, and sensual. It was cosy, and oh, so tasty. It was, all told, joyous.

Rarely for us (especially rare for dear Mr Pig), we didn’t have puds because we were fully-satisfied, and satiated, and replete. We left Joya wrapped in a cosy fug of “all’s well with the word”-ness that only a really good meal in really lovely surroundings enjoyed with really lovely company can offer – and that’s a rare thing… which Joya Italian Steakhouse allowed us to cook to order.

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