Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Restaurants | Critic's Notebook

Josie: Soft Lights, Comfy Seats and Good Food

February 22, 2001|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

After months of delays, Josie, the new Santa Monica restaurant from chef Josie LeBalch and her husband, Frank Delzio, has finally opened in what was 2424 Pico. What a change a little design savvy has wrought. Gone are the sassy banquettes with backs as hard as ironing boards. LeBalch has gone in for comfort and a classic, if staid, elegance: tailored banquettes covered in a quiet artichoke print, tasteful framed prints and soft lighting.

She describes her menu as progressive American cuisine with French and Italian influences. She was chef at both Remi in Santa Monica (which just closed) and Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas. She is, of course, featuring some of the game she specialized in there, and dishes based on whatever looks good at the Santa Monica farmers market. Though she was sticking strictly to the menu last week, our waiter, who has worked with her for years, said that won't last. "I know Josie. She can't resist adding five or six specials--and that's just appetizers."

Even sans specials, LeBalch's menu offers plenty of choices. As an appetizer, she's serving sauteed sardines in brown butter with lemon, capers, and fried celery leaves or ravioli stuffed with oxtail and finished with a little bone marrow and a silky red wine sauce. There's an artful salad of arugula and shaved fennel with persimmons, too. Entrees encompass everything from "tagine-style" cod, i.e. with preserved lemons and olives, to tenderloin of Texas wild boar. Cooked in a cast-iron skillet, "campfire trout" comes with a medley of blue lake and yellow wax beans. As a vegetarian option, she offers black barley cooked in the style of risotto (it's that Remi training coming through).

Cosseted at a comfortable table, we found ourselves lingering over dessert and coffee. I'd say it's a go.

* Josie Restaurant, 2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 310/581-9888. Open for dinner Monday through Saturday. Appetizers $7 to $14; main courses $18 to $29. Full bar. Valet parking.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|