I started taking advantage of Dine LA week today by eating lunch at Joe’s on Abbot Kinney in Venice. I’ve eaten here before many years ago and I am very happy to find that some good things get even better after time has passed.

My first pleasant surprise came at the host stand when the owner/chef Joe came out and seated some guests himself because the very personable host was busy taking me to my table. I love seeing an owner take on a customer service role himself; it speaks well for the entire operation. My host then made me smile even more when he opened the menu and explained that they had expanded on the Dine LA menu by offering a choice of ANY of their appetizers, main courses, and desserts for the prix fixe price of $18, or $22 with a glass of the house white or red wine. My third surprise was my excellent server Giuliana, who had been my server at another restaurant in the area.

I chose to start with the Tu Tuna, which was both seared and cooked tuna with a very nice frisee salad topped with dry roasted tomato slices.

I segued to the sand dabs with avocado and tomatoes in a chive nage with pink Maine shrimp, based on my server’s suggestion, which was so tasty I would have mistaken the sand dabs for the deliciously exotic fish Barramundi if I had not known it was a native fish.

The only way I could I finish my meal was to eat very slowly, as I sipped my smooth Sauvignon Blanc between bites. I was about to ask for my dessert to go, but I thought it would be wiser to eat what I could there while leaving any unfinished dessert on the plate (my version of restaurant portion control).

I chose the warm chocolate tart on caramel sauce, served with blood oranges slices and a refreshing sorbet.

I managed to eat about half of it before surrendering to my fully and happy stomach saying, “Stop now.” OK I stopped (for now). Tomorrow is another day.