Assuming the city isn't shrouded in smog, the tables in the window surely have one of the best views on offer of any London restaurant. However, Joanna's reputation does not rest on its lofty location, but on 33 years of dedicated service. On meeting owner, William Ellner, who took over from his parents John and Christina in 2003, it is clear that he shoulders the responsibility of maintaining the restaurant's reputation with great pride.
Set up back in 1978, on a largely American theme, it featured jazz performed at an old piano, giving the restaurant its rhyming slang name. Back then London was a comparative culinary wasteland, so the opening of any restaurant was quite an event, especially somewhere as far flung as Crystal Palace. So successful was it, that after a few years it expanded into the shop next door.
Housed in an unremarkable 70s building, the interior is a huge surprise. Decked out with reclaimed panelling and floorboards, it has a timeless quality that somehow avoids the overly themed sterility of many of the high street restaurant chains. Maybe it's the contrast of formality in the starched white tablecloths, and the informality of the mix and match seating, or the delightful eccentricity of the reception fashioned from a former phone booth, and the private dining room that feels like a 1st class compartment on a steam train. And it's not just the style of the place, but the service and attitude of the enthusiastic and multinational staff.
Of course, the food is the real reason people come here. A mix of the classic and the comfort, European and Asian, and with a reputation for the best of British seafood.
I was there on a midweek afternoon to take photographs and expressed surprise to William at how busy they were, given that we are so far from either the stomping grounds of the City gent or West London's ladies who lunch. His reply indicated that building up a solid lunch trade was the hardest challenge of all, but then moments later, he was back to attending to a elderly regular customer, for whom, it was clear the kitchen would happily go to any lengths. This is what makes a restaurant like Joanna's a local institution, and a place of which the Triangle should be proud.
And finally, the view...
56, Westow Hill, Tel. 020 8670 4052 http://www.joannas.uk.com/