Joanna’s is something of an institution in Crystal Palace. Established by John and Christina Ellner way back in 1978 and now managed by their son, the original concept was an American themed diner, but today it offers a much wider menu which I think is fair to describe as ‘modern British’. Running a restaurant successfully for that long obviously means adapting to changing tastes and fashions – the fact it’s still going strong suggests they’re definitely doing something right!
We’d taken advantage of the one decent day over the Easter break to enjoy the warm weather – a walk through Sydenham Hill Wood led us up to Crystal Palace where, nowadays, you are seriously spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink (see our area focus). The hunger had built up and Joanna’s looked inviting, so in we went – the interior looks great with lots of wood panels, nice art and an attractive bar. In one frame there’s a collection of tickets from Frank Sinatra shows which the owner went to, along with a signed portrait of the man himself, while another has menus and reviews going back to the 70s. There’s also a private dining room looking out over the restaurant with room for six – it has the feel of an old fashioned railway compartment – quirky!
We felt we deserved a nice glass of Prosecco after our long walk and I can tell you it tasted so good accompanied by lovely Nocellara olives. The American influence hasn’t disappeared from the menu and we went for their classic burger served with smoked bacon, mature cheddar, skinny fries and coleslaw. We weren’t disappointed – generations have probably eaten their burgers and I can tell you they’re as good as you’ll eat anywhere, anytime! Washed down with a 50cl carafe of Montepulciano it was a perfect late lunch.
Pricewise, starters range from £6-8 with mains averaging £16-18 and desserts around £6-7. You can have breakfast from 10am, while there are very reasonably-priced lunch specials from £9, as well as the burgers at £13.75. There is a comprehensive wine list starting at £17 for the house wine – several offered as 50cl carafes, while they also do cocktails at £8-10.
It’s easy to see why Joanna’s has remained such a firm favourite for so long and we look forward to revisiting to explore the menu some more – recommended.
Joanna’s, 56 Westow Hill, SE19 1RX