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Farmer's Market Fresh
Nothing draws me into a restaurant like the promise of an original menu of Farmer’s Market fresh vegetables and organic meats prepared with originality and talent. Unfortunately, that’s sort of the flavor of the month among so many LA restaurants these days, which means that a number of these places are pretty mediocre. But this was a party that Josie Le Balch started when she opened Josie seven years ago, and she’s still among the best in the business.
Sitting inconspicuously on the corner of 25th and Pico, the restaurant itself is classy but unassuming, with it’s brown and white décor. The place to be is in the back room, where you can enjoy the fireplace, which is in the old Hollywood style, where the smooth cement structure juts out in a blocky, almost triangular shape. There is a classic wooden bar in the opposite corner, which almost looks like it was brought in from the turn of the (19th) century – not so much as to be jarring, just interesting.
The meal starts with an amuse bouche, which (translated by my terrible French) basically means something that delights the mouth, a little scrumptious something to tantalize before the meal. On this occasion it was a very thin slice of mushroom quiche and it was delicious.
The menu featured some pretty good summer fair – prosciutto and melon, which featured a rather extensive (though good) salad, when really, it’s a dish that can stand alone. There were also delightful summer specials, heirloom tomatoes with burrata cheese, hot tomato soup alive with mild summer spices and garnished with a goat cheese stuffed tomato. No one dared order the frog’s legs (“Tastes like chicken!” “Then why not order chicken?”)
The main course arrived shortly thereafter. The Barramundi was excellent, tender like east coast blue fish, and the fennel wasn’t too overpowering. The trout and the salmon were both solid entries, paired with summer vegetables. But where Josie really shines is the heavier meats – beef and game meats. Both the rib-eye medallion and the cap steak special was unbelievable. I think it’s worth mentioning that when I ate there on New Year’s Eve eve (think about it!) last year I had a sublime piece of pork served with braised cabbage and something else I wish I’d written down, where when you ate them together it tasted like perfect barbeque.
Again, we were too full for dessert, but I know the chocolate bread pudding is great, and I bet the warm peach cobbler tart is a winner. Josie doesn’t disappoint, even if the prices relegate it to special occasion status.
Josie, 2424 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA
Photos by Jacy for LAist