“ Address: 34 King Street / Covent Garden „
I first visited Navajo Joe's last year, when I met a friend in Covent Garden and we spontaneously decided to go here. As it was a Friday night, we were unsure if we would get in, but it was only a short wait, so we headed to the bar.
The restaurant is on King Street, which is just off the Piazza and is situated on two floors (ground and first floor) and the bar is on the ground floor. They also have a more casual bar in the basement. They do a huge range of cocktails (which I will come back to) but in this instance I ordered a spirit and a mixer. It is worth noting that these drinks are served as doubles as standard. I wasn't aware of this until I felt a bit squiffy later in the evening (and my head reminded me the next day).
The bar/restaurant is quite modern, with lots of metal pipes and cylinders around. We were seated on the first floor, and you could overlook the bar area, but I did find it quite dark in our corner.
As it was quite late we decided to skip starters and go straight into main courses. Starters average about £7-8 and include sharing plates such as nachos or chicken wings, as well as quesadillas, tempura prawns and crabcakes. They also do smaller bites (which I imagine are like tapas plates for about £4-5 which includes asparagus tempura, jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and chargrilled baby squid.
For my main course I went for asparagus and oyster mushroom enchilada (£10.25) which also came with sugar snap peas, goats' cheese and a spicy tomato sauce. As I recall, the two large enchiladas were very filling (I couldn't finish it) and I really enjoyed them. My friend had the chargrilled peri peri chicken (£12.25) and really enjoyed it also, managing to eat more then me. I was impressed with the portion sizes. Other options include the usual suspects such as various burritos, fajitas, burgers and steaks. Veggies also got a goats' cheese and red onion crostini option, and there are various fish options for those that are so inclined.
We didn't have a dessert as it was getting quite late, but they are £5 and include options like cheesecake, ice creams and chocolate brownie. To be honest there was nothing exciting or very different about the selections. Instead my friend had a liqueur coffee; whilst I had another spirit and mixer (I was now quite squiffy). Because if the squiffiness I cannot remember how much we actually paid altogether, but I thought the food was very good value, as it was freshly cooked and a good sized portion for the price. Service was informal, yet polite and friendly and we cannot find any fault here. The lavatories were on the ground floor and were smart and clean.
The next time I came here was to Jo Below which is the basement bar. They do bar food here, but it is more an informal bar with music and DJs and is where I got acquainted with the cocktail menu. My friend had reserved an area for us, near the front by the windows. As it was summer it was still light, which was nice as it was quite a bit darker towards the back, and we were also close to the bar. The bar was busy with two barmen and as people were ordering cocktails there was sometimes a wait at certain times, but the staff were very efficient and friendly.
To line my stomach prior to the cocktails, I perused the bar menu. Mainly it consists of cholesterol - nachos, prawn tempuras, chips/wedges etc. I was hoping for a nice sandwich but that was not to be. I ordered the cheesy nachos for £7.40. It was a large plate, generously covered with cheese, guacamole and sour cream. I couldn't actually finish it but mainly because everything was congealed and stuck together at the bottom and it was getting a bit messy, seated at a low table. Happy Hour runs until 6.30pm so too early for us.
My first cocktail was the Caiprioska, a vodka based version of the Caipirinha with lime and sugar for £7.00. I really liked it (it was similar to a mojito) but decided to go for a Bison Martini next. This is made with Zubrowska Bison vodka, apple liqueur, apple juice, lime and a touch of mint for £7.40. I loved it and stuck to it for the rest of the night (also partly because I couldn't be bothered to hunt down the cocktail menu again). I had a taste of some of my friends' cocktails and they were quite sweet and pink. Angel Delight was popular: vodka, Dubonnet, white chocolate liqueur and raspberries. Red Tower was similar but with strawberries, lime and cranberry juice. They also do a number of rum and tequila based cocktails, bottled beers and wines. A bottle of wine starts at £16.
The bar is simple and intimate in its style, and possibly could do with a larger bar area. It had a DJ playing music and a few people were dancing. The lavatories were at the back and a bit of a squeeze to get to when the bar was full, however they were clean and well stocked even though they didn't have an attendant in them.
I have returned here since, both for a meal upstairs and drinks in the basement and feel nothing has changed since my original visit - food (upstairs), cocktails and service is still good. However neither my purse nor my liver would appreciate too regular a visit.