California cuisine, like Italian and Cantonese, is all about the ingredients: how to pick them and how to do as little as possible to them in order to show off their innate perfection. Though the genre's inventor, Chez Panisse, is without rival, Jojo excels in this approach to cooking. Its tiny menu zeroes in on foods at their peak and cooks them quite simply. Claiming tiny family-owned French bistros as their inspiration, chef-owners Curt Clingman and Mary Jo Thoresen both work on the three-person line, keeping the kind of control over their food that one expects from higher-priced restaurants. Since Thoresen worked at Chez Panisse as a pastry chef for a dozen years, anything involving flour, butter, and eggs should be ordered. Other standouts are the crisp-edged, creamy-centered fries in the steak frites and the saffron- and Pernod-tinged Provençal fish stew. The other pluses are Jojo's intimate space and informally competent staff.
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