This is my first post to Chowhound, but I have been a regular reader for a while.
Based on the glowing reviews from the Chowhound contributors, personal recommendations from friends, and Josies resume, my wife and I elected to go to Josie on Saturday 6/7/03 for our fifth wedding anniversary. Since I called to make my reservation only five days before, I was only offered 6:15 or 8:30. Upon making my reservation, I was asked by the very charming hostess, Sarah (sp?), whether I had been to Josie before, and whether I was coming in for a special occasion. I told the hostess it would be our first time, and it was our fifth wedding anniversary. I was immediately impressed.
Upon arriving, I was warmly greeted by the staff and Frank Delzio, whom I recognized from the website. At 6:15, the front room was nearly full. The host (did not see Sarah upon my arrival) immediately walked us to the last booth in the front room, which my wife did not like. When asked to move into the back room, the host pointed to the two person table near the bar, and merely directed us towards the table. My wife was extremely disappointed by the sudden and curt change in attitude. I was unhappy, because I knew I would have wait staff standing near our table all night ordering drinks.
Nevertheless, we were immediately greeted by a waitress, and ordered cocktails. My kir royale was among the best Ive tasted. I asked the friendly bartender (literally behind my table) about the sparkling wine (California), and he showed me the bottleDomaine Chandon (Taittingers California vineyard). Our waiter soon arrived, explained the specials, and answered all questions.
I ordered the baked pear and endive salad, and Texas wild boar. My wife ordered the soft shell crab and corn cake appetizer, and duck breastboth specials of the day. The salad, in my opinion, seemed disjointed and/or lacked a common harmonious unifying dressing. I have had much better versions of the salad at Roys in Newport Beach and The Palace Court in Caesars Palace (now defunct). I dont know if the salad has simply become to passe, and therefore the kitchen maybe takes things for granted, but I expect all basic, staple dishes to be executed well. On the other hand, my wifes soft shell crab appetizer was outstanding. An absolutely incredible blending of flavors.
Unfortunately, we were both underwhelmed by our entrees. Although the dishes were well executed, as expected, I found the flavors either uninteresting or overwhelming. The oily residue from fried rapini seemed to coat my mouth, thereby interfering with my ability to discern the more subtle flavors of the wild boar. The flageolet beans were completely bland (maybe the oil did it). My wife was equally underwhelmed with her duck and foie gras ( I was also unimpressed). The desert, hand pulled cherry studel, with vanilla ice cream was good.
To the credit of Josie, the wait staff and bus boys were exemplar. When our waiter was not in the room, another gladly took our desert order. The bus boy was prompt and polite. Once again, however, my wife was disappointed that we did not receive any acknowledgment of our wedding anniversary, even though we were asked at the time of initial reservation. This was a striking contrast to our anniversary dinner last year at Renoir in the Mirage hotel, Las Vegas, where we consumed one of the most memorable meals ever, which included complimentary cocktails, additional off the menu appetizers and desert, plus a copy of the menu.
While I dont expect the same treatment in L.A., I am wondering if my food experience is simply a difference of opinion, or did we order the wrong items?
I got the feeling that Josie is very much a place for regulars. It's refreshing to see a not so obscenely marked up wine list. I watched a patron share a glass of wine with a waitress, and Josie personally talk with the table next to me for quite a while (then go back to the kitchen).
I realize a difference of opinion is just that, and there must be a reason so many people love Josie. I give Josie credit for NOT being another typical L.A. restaurant, where the emphasis is on the scene rather than the food. Nevertheless, I am an untypical L.A. native, and am very skeptical of any hyped place.
Thank you for your patience with the length of the letter (if you read this far).