Josie experience (food talk this time!)
I'm posting my recent experience at Josie, in lieu of all the argument over reservation policy, restaurant size, blah blah. Let's get back into the food, because isn't that what Chowhound is all about?
Josie was a nice experience, for a change in a chi chi restaurant. In the recent months, I've been to Jar, Jiraffe, and a few other higher profile restaurants. Restaurants like these tend to remind me that I am not an industry type casting agent, or a nationally read food critic, but a third class schmuck from the San Gabriel Valley who must be here for a special occasion and will never be seen again. I usually only see the waiter 3 times: when I order, when they say, "how is everything?", and when they drop off the bill. Then hops on to the table next to me, schmoozing with the party while he refills everyone's glass. But that could be accounted to the fact we didn't go on a Friday or Saturday.
The restaurant actually is pretty small, and uncharacteristically next door to a Rite Aid. We got to the restaurant a bit early and was seated promptly. They have a narrow opening to the kitchen, but I didn't make a long enough glance to see if Josie LaBalch herself was inside.
As soon as we were offered the menus, the waiter asked if there was anything he could bring, before we could look at the menu. We asked for "just water for now" and he brought me a $5 of sole. So if you want L.A. water, you need to specifically say tap water. He didn't leave the wine list, I guess he assumed we were cheapskates and just wanted water. I later ask for the wine list, glancing through the glasses, I ask for a glass of Cote du Rhone.
They provided us with a tasty amuse of mushroom and gruyere cheese quiche. We order the Mushroom "sandwich" which is mushrooms en croute or in flakey puff pastry. This had the lightest, flakiest crust I've ever seen. But of course, I'm comparing that to supermarket apple turnovers. I also ask for the soup of the day, seafood chowder, because I can't say no to chowder (unless it's corn chowder) The waiter says it has no cream. I thought the broth consistency was strange for a chowder, my SO thought it was refreshing. The soup was fortfied by a potato puree mounted in the middle topped with a skewered shrimp fried in filo dough. The broth was dotted with yummy bits of shrimp and bay scallops.
After the appetizer plates were cleared, a runner exchanges our knives with a pair of handsome Sabatier Laguiole steak knives.
For entree, I get the less-than-adventurous veal chop. I'll save the elk, bear, boar, and musk ox for next time. It came with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and yet another helping of mushrooms. It was bone-in and a generous portion. In other restaurants of this price range, you see too much plate. My SO got the bone-in kansas city filet. I assume that means it's a filet mignon, with the section of the t-bone left in. I nibbled on it, and being a huge beef fan, I prefered real beef to veal. It was actually more tender and flavorful. The steak came with watercress salad with gorgonzola cheese and a garlicky oven dried tomato.
At one point, I tried to discreetly pick up the bone in order to gnaw on it because I AM a third class schmuck from San Gabriel Valley, and I inadvertenly knock my fork on the floor. I pick it right up and put it aside, 2 seconds later my waiter exchanges it for a new one. Very sharp.
For dessert, I ordered the trio of Pot de Creme, remembering how good the Earl Grey pot de creme at Thomas Keller's (of French Laundry) Bouchon. It didn't have the same hard ice cream consistency of Bouchon's, but they were nevertheless very good. The espresso pot de creme had 3 coffee beans on top, the chocolat had chocolate sprinkles on top, the third indivdual cup contained caramel creme. There was a single chocolate truffle (candy, not the fungi), that was had a nice crispy grenache crunch.
When the check came, it listed a glass of bordeaux so I pointed out that I had the Cote du Rhone, and he said, "oops, I brought you the bordeaux." Subsequent research revealed that the wine I had was Chateau Haut Gros Caillou, Saint Emilion 1998. The waiter said he would correct the bill. I said, don't bother (I did after all drink the bordeaux). The total damage, 2 appetizers, 2 entree, 1 dessert, 1 glass wine, tax and tip was $130.
Despite the couple of misunderstanding with the waiter, I felt that they were very professional without any of the snooty air, I find in other restaurants. Even the busboy asked me if I enjoyed the dessert, which I appreciated. They afforded me the same amount of service as the other folks in the room. I found the restaurant a trifle loud, as most restaurants are, and that accounts for the mix-up with the wine.
2424 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, Ca. 90405
The H*** with Industry Types On Expense Accounts, it's the schmucks from the San Gabriel Valley and the yokels from the The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire, and the Just Folks From All Over So Cal, all real Chowhounders, who are loyal, appreciative customers that will come back year after year.
Kevin, I just want to say that if your knowledge of food is indicative of all "third class schmuck(s) from San Gabriel" (whatever that means), I want to eat with you guys! Enough with the self-deprecation, because your palate is a heck of a lot more sophisticated than some "industry type casting agent". And I speak from experience, having dined too often with those of whom you speak.
Glad you enjoyed Josie. We ate there last month for my birthday and were equally impressed with the food and friendly service. Next time, don't miss the oxtail ravioli!