Once a sleepy surfer town, Santa Monica is currently known for its high-priced living and colorful range of dining options. One of those options, which has had a heavy hand in the beach city’s rise to stardom, is Josie, a shiny American gem.
The clandestine restaurant tucked into a corner on Pico Boulevard and 24th Street, coyly attracts avid restaurant goers and privileged families. It appeals to those who prefer fine dining, designer cocktails, a quiet atmosphere, and very good food—not high-priced food that sings to the tune of mediocrity, but expensive, critically lauded fare that tastes and appears as if it were born out of a love affair with Napa, inheriting two very important genes: refinement and generosity.
The warm dining room, painted in soft grey hues, invites guests in immediately, as an open-air kitchen visible through a half moon-shaped enclave is just to the right of the entrance. Waiters, dressed in white and beige, calmly wind about and pay careful attention to plates, which arrive from the almost-all female kitchen, wiping and blotting so delicately that one would think valuable works of art were being restored.
But that’s the thing, owner Josie Le Balch’s fine-tuned, seasonal creations can easily be deemed works of art. A favorite of both new and old visitors is the Moroccan beef short ribs. Arriving tableside—hidden inside a traditional Tagine—tender short ribs, barely clinging to their bones, join sweet and savory ingredients, including couscous, curried cauliflower, and lightly stewed apricots and sweet potatoes. The whole Campfire Trout, spruced up with lemongrass nage, is another popular item devotees have been ordering since the restaurant’s inception in 2001.
For something a little different, the burger is somewhat of a deviant compared to the rest of the menu, but a standout. A hearty buffalo patty stuffed with gruyere comes topped with sautéed onions and Foie Gras. Seated next to it; truffle fries.
Renowned pastry artisan and Josie original, Jonna Jensen, ends the evening with an extensive offering of sweet notes. A seasonal blueberry cheesecake is light and fluffy and a sticky pumpkin cake comes paired with a scoop of brown sugar ice cream.
Josie is simply one of those restaurants that makes us food interested individuals finally bow down to Los Angeles in gratitude for granting us with a no-frills, sophisticated, satisfying dining experience.
2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. 310.581.9888