Overall GrubGrade B+
Atmosphere: Grade A-: First off, before you click the link above and visit the website for J.Liu, make sure you turn down the volume on your computer. It’s loud! I didn’t turn down my volume and accidentally made a little water in my britches when the music came blasting out of my computer. It’s not what you’d expect. On the outside, J.Liu is nearly identical to the buildings adjacent to it, one of which is a bank. So what, you ask? You just need to make sure you have an idea of where you’re going or else you might just drive right on by it. On the inside, J.Liu is nicely decorated with a distinct upscale vibe. Check out the menu online first though, because you’re not going to be able to determine what kind of restaurant J.Liu is based on its décor. Tables are nicely spaced and the place was spotless.
High marks: Nicely spaced tables, clean, upscale
Low marks: Upscale décor lacks theme
Service: Grade B: If you happen to check out any other reviews of J.Liu (and you shouldn’t since our review is the best), you might see some comments on inconsistent service in the dining room and at the bar. We’ve dined at J.Liu a number of times and have never had bad service in the dining room. We can’t really speak for the bar area since we go to restaurants to dine and we go to bars if we are looking to tie one on. Our server, Kate, did a really nice job of providing for us. But again, this is one of those occasions where we had good service but nothing spectacular. There was nothing memorable about the service. Food arrived promptly and our drinks were replaced with minimal wait, but the service was professional but a little lacking in personality.
High marks: Quick and accurate service
Low marks: Nothing memorable about service
Food/Spirits: Grade A-: Let’s talk about the good stuff, now. For our drinks, I opted for the Rogue Dead Guy Ale, which I’ve reviewed a couple of times already. Katina, on the other hand, ordered a drink named the “Royale.” She found the drink to be delicious, with a pronounced blackberry flavor (both of us are quite fond of blackberries). We opted for the potstickers for our appetizer.
My gripe with potstickers (and to some degree egg rolls and spring rolls as well) is a noticeable lack of meat and an overwhelming amount of veggies. These appetizers are text book cases of unbalanced dishes. However, the potstickers at J.Liu were pleasantly packed with meat. They were quite tasty. For her entrée, Katina settled on the spicy chicken with a side of fried rice.
While the dish was tasty, Katina did not feel there was any spiciness to the dish at all. But the dish came with an abundance of sauce, which is a great way to get on Katina’s good side (the girl loves her sauces). I ordered the Pasta Diavolo, which was quite delicious.
The spicy cream sauce was decidedly not spicy, but still flavorful. What surprised me the most was the amount of meat in the dish. Usually an entrée like this one would have a ton of pasta and a couple of scraps of meat, but in this case I actually needed more pasta since I ran out. We decided to indulge in some dessert on this occasion, so Katina ordered a piece of key lime pie and I ordered a piece of chocolate flourless cake. The key lime pie was very good, but I found the cake to just be average. I am not a huge chocolate cake fan, so I might not really be the best qualified person to rate this particular dessert.
High marks: Great appetizer, tasty entrees
Low marks: Spicy dishes not actually spicy, chocolate cake uninspiring
Value: Grade A-: J.Liu almost made me part with one of my Benjamins, but for the quality of food, and the fact we had drinks, appetizers, and dessert, the price was not too bad. If you were so inclined, you could probably make it out of J.Liu with a reasonable bill. With an Asian flair but lots of non-Asian dishes to choose from, almost everyone can find something to eat at J.Liu. If you haven’t found your favorite yet, stop lollygagging and get to it.
High marks: Very good quality food, fairly reasonable price
Low marks: Take a credit card if you plan on living it up