I've been interested in trying Josie in Santa Monica for quite a long time: the menu appealed, it seems to get positive mention on the boards...
I often prefer dining in higher end restaurants alone: hubby doesn't appreciate them, and anyway, it is cheaper that way when one is not on expense account, not that my employer is particularly generous...
Last night, with hubby in SF and me here in LA, still waiting for iminent arrival of World's Greatest Grandchild (now at 41 weeks!). Daughter and SIL weren't in a mood to dine out, so, alone and at loose ends, I grabbed an early reservation at Josie and headed over.
The neighborhood caught me off-guard: residential with very easy parking (right in front), no need to take advantage of the valet, the street parking is closer. Then: wow, the interior was nothing at all like I expected. If I had known how serene Josie is, with very well-spaced tables, soft colors, and not a lot of din, I'd have probably tried it years ago. Somehow I pictured jammed together tables, and hip and loud...I was waay off base in my expectations, which was a wonderful surprise. Now I know where I can go with hubby for a romantic dinner in West LA....
I was promptly seated at a lovely table in the front room corner. I liked this location because I could peek into the semi-open kitchen, and because the curtains, though drawn, still let in light from the sunset. I kept imagining the back room by the bar was preferred seating for its coziness, but it did seem gloomy and dark to me, as did the otherwise nice booths for two along the side wall...
Several of the appetizers on special sounded good, so I decided to go with three apps and a dessert. Portions are on the large size, so this was a bit more food than I needed, but I managed...
Rather unimpressive (just this side of stale) bread was brought, along with good butter, followed by an amuse of a gruyere tart, which was nice.
a special asparagus appetizer: white and green asparagus with english peas, pea shoots, and meyer lemon sauce. Spring in a bowl. Lovely. This dish I wish had been slightly larger.
cauliflower soup with roasted cauliflower and short rib garnish (also a special): the soup was velvety and creamy but (unfortunately from my point of view) tasted more of cream and sherry than of cauliflower. That said, the bits of short rib on top (more than just a garnish) were unbelievably tender and delicious: I actually thought 'wow' when I tasted them....now I have to go back and order the rib tangine main! The roasted cauliflower was also a nice touch.
roasted Kurobuta pork belly with potato puree, mache and blood orange, from the regular app menu: the blood orange dominated the pork perhaps just a little more than I would have liked, and actually may have cut through the fat a bit more than would be ideal, but hey, its pork belly, so I'm not complaining...potato was delicious.
All three dishes were seasoned lightly, and the flavors of the ingredients came though nicely. No oversalting here.
I wanted a red wine, but the half bottle list is limited. The sommelier recommended the Fèlsina, ‘Fontalloro’ - Tuscany as being the best suited to three different dishes, and it was a good but not outstanding choice (it didn't quite hold up to the level of citrus in the pork belly, I thought) so maybe wines by the glass would have been a better option.
For dessert: boysenberry crumble pie with vanilla ice cream. everything it should be, including the delicious pastry crust.
Service was excellent in every respect.
Total for dinner, wine, with tax and 20% tip: about $135. I can't afford that every week, but I would and will definitely go back.
2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405