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Monday, March 18, 2013

Peachy Picks Chez Josephine Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Jean-Claude Baker

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From the moment we entered Chez Josephine and saw Jean-Claude Baker, epitome of class, personally greeting each guest at the door, we knew this venue was a winner.  We next witnessed not an empty table in sight (except ours), and we heard beautiful piano music giving the atmosphere class and charm.  The flowers that grace the bar are on par with the beauty of the flowers we see at Sistina and La Grenouille, which in our experience set the standard for floral arrangements at restaurants in Manhattan.
Chez Josephine was first featured in Tasty Tidbits:
It has graduated to Peachy's Picks with flying colors!  The top French cuisine, atmosphere, service and genuine care of the owner, Jean-Claude Baker make Chez Josephine a total destination venue for everyone that is reading around the world.  
Jean-Claude when we asked you what you think she'd think of the place, y
ou said your mother Josephine Baker would feel at home here.  Not only would we suppose she'd feel at home here, but also we would 
surmise she'd feel
 tremendous sentiments of pride for you and what you've accomplished at Chez Josephine! (We never met Josephine Baker; it would have been impossible as she passed before Peachy was born.)
Though the piano music added the right ambiance, we noted it is not too loud at Chez Josephine.  It can be too loud at lesser venues.  We hope this review is music to Jean-Claude's ears because every aspect of our experience was perfection.  Our reviews are really only a mirror of our experience...If you are a restaurant that has not been published on, there is a lot you can learn from Jean-Claude.  Here is the first piano player we met, and in honor of the holiday we heard Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes are Smiling.  Current Broadway tunes like Anything Goes also were among the hits.  He even is wearing Kelly Green!
Jean-Claude personally brought us each a Kir Royale immediately upon our arrival.  We were a bit early and our reserved table was ready early, the only empty table in the house.   The welcoming Kir Royale was delicious and festive as we settled into the venue that is much more reminiscent of a home than a restaurant because of the real sentimentality that goes into it from Jean-Claude's heart.  He also made sure we had plenty of Volvic to sip on all evening.  No one misses a trick at Chez Josephine.
A generous portion of sweet potato fries warmed us up as well-they are crispy, hot and the perfect thickness.  Two thumbs up from the irish stomach as well.
Jean-Claude had every last detail right including the menus ready for us to take notes on, and not only that, he also thoughtfully included a signed copy of The Hungry Heart, the biography he wrote on his mother.
Peachy cannot wait to read it; she has not read it yet as she does not want to delay the review.  The book is available for purchase at the bar as well so you too may get a signed copy.  Being the proprietor of Chez Josephine is a sincere vocation for Jean-Claude.  Previously from 1967 to 1973 he owned a club in West Berlin, and later came to America where he was on Telefrance-USA television, winning two Ace Awards.  In 1986 Chez Josephine began in New York, and you should know the original Chez Josephine was in Paris in 1926 per the menu.
Our next edible entry was a sauteed scallop in mashed potato with cream, pepper and butter dancing in a Champagne Bourgogne sauce.  Absolutely divine!  The quality of freshness in the scallop was superlative and the sauce was an ideal complement.  As you can see, this and everything else we encountered was arranged with an eye of detail that reaches the apex of perfection.
Our waiter Ryan who hails from South Dakota, did a wonderful job all evening and has been there seven years.  Though this is a picture of Josephine below, Peachy had a smile this big on her face all night.
Most of us never met Josephine Baker, but you will feel her spirit when you visit this incredible venue.  You will also feel like you are on vacation.  Chez Josephine is happily a complete departure from the Manhattan of today and is the epitome of Paris in the 1930's.  When you enter on 42nd street off of Ninth Avenue, you have no idea of the level of excellence you are in for when you stand outside on the street.
Previously, the Chandeliers made an appearance in our column, Chandelier Peachy.
You know who is obsessed with Chandeliers.
The are even more ravishing in person.  An aura of crimson makes you feel as though you do have a world seen through rose-colored glasses, if even for the few hours of dinner.  You won't want to leave.
If you read the reviews of French restaurants closely, you see that Peachy is enamored of escargots.  The Escargots a la Bourgignonnne avec Herbs and Garlic is simply majestic and is among the best we've had.  Six circles of sublimity will invigorate your senses and the garlic-enthusiast in you will rejoice.
Each succulent little snail joyfully jumped on the fine petite fork and met Peachy's mouth.  Every last drop of the sauce was soaked into wonderful rolls.  Peachy dreamt of this all night it was that lovely.
Peachy Deegan is a fan of robust reds, particularly in this biting cold weather we're still enjoying, so a Bordeaux was in order!
Louis de Melac Medoc Bordeaux 2011 was marvelous and proved to be a strong follow-up to the Kir Royale.  Every sip was wonderful and took us to France in our mind.
It paired terrifically with Peachy's hearty entree:
The Lobster Cassoulet with Scallops, Shrimp, Seafood Sausage and Black Beans in a Light Shellfish Bouillion is the entree to beat in Peachy's estimation.  She thought that could be the case prior to selecting it as her entree, and is supremely confident now that it reigns over the menu not only because of the top quality of each ingredient, but also because of Josephine's grandmother's recipe.  Her grandmother was from Shreveport, Louisiana, and you know we are on a Louisiana kick after meeting the stellar Dee Keller!  Each component was in perfect proporotion to the others and there was not too much broth-it was just ideal.  The colorfulness added to the panache.
The second set of music included a vocalist that excelled at La Vie en Rose.  We noted that the lights dimmed at 8pm and the candles on each table were changed.  Everything is operated like clockwork at Chez Josephine.  Beautiful French clockwork, that is.
Mixed berries were Peachy's dessert of choice!  All those antioxidants never tasted so good.  For fruit that is out of season in New York, this was all fresh and delicious.  The Creme Brulee was also top-notch.
The Bordeaux was amazing but the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaini Comte de Lauze 2009 was even more laudable.  Peachy's tastebuds give a resounding round of applause to this wine that is simply tops.
The petit fours could not have been better and they are from Paris too, bien sur mes amies.  Finally, your night is not complete without Raspberry Brandy:
It is strong and absolutely exquisite.
There is nothing that is less than top-notch at Chez Josephine and Jean-Claude Baker sets the standard for fine dining.  Can you believe on April 18th we will be wishing him a very happy birthday (we cannot forget as it is the same day as Peachy's brother!) and he will be 70.  We are praying to have his energy and youthfulness when we are at that stage!  It's clear that Jean-Claude loves his guests and many of them go quite often.
Don't forget the book.  We can't wait to read it.
Our esteemed panelist adds:
The complexities of our modern era can be overwhelming and exhausting, especially in busy and bustling New York City. Thankfully, there is a way to escape it all for a few hours and enjoy some truly wonderful food - all just steps away from Times Square! Chez Josephine is a tribute to the legendary performer Josephine Baker and and the time period in which she was at the height of her fame. Opening the doors to this restaurant was like opening a portal to another time and place. The interior is full of memorabilia and decor from the 1920's and 1930's, and every piece has some connection to the great Ms. Baker. Live piano music and singing fill the air and delight guests without overpowering conversations. This is a real treat that is hard to come by at any restaurant these days. 
 Everything about Chez Josephine feels 100 percent authentic, and it should because the owner of this wonderful establishment is none other than one of her own sons, Jean-Claude Baker. This friendly host welcomed us right at the door making us feel like old friends coming into his home. The hospitality did not end there. Throughout the night we experienced top-notch service from him and his staff. I was already in love with Chez Josephine even before I had my first bite to eat. The food only made me love it more! I started off my meal with a refreshing glass of Kir Royale. 
 This is definitely the way to begin a good meal! For an appetizer I experienced the mouth-watering sauteed scallop over mashed potato with Champagne Bourgogne sauce. 
 This dish was beyond excellent. The scallop was flaky and tender and literally melted in my mouth, The mashed potatoes were delicious, and not a drop was left on my plate. After the scallop, I had a bowl of French Onion Soup. 
 This was another good choice. The soup was very tasty and helped to warm me up from the cold. For my main course, I tried the Roasted Breast of Long Island Duck with wild rice and corn emulsion. This I must say was probably the best duck I have ever tasted. 
 The meat was tender and flavorful with a pleasant hint of citrus. The bed of wild rice was hearty and an excellent complement to the meat. I could barely believe my taste buds. It was a truly heavenly experience.  
During the course of the meal, I also had to try one of the restaurant's six signature cocktails. I chose the Princesse Tam Tam - vanilla vodka, Kahlua, creme de cacao, and Bailey's Irish Cream. It was a wonderful blend of vanilla and chocolate flavors - so wonderful that I had to have a second round! 
 Finally, for dessert I had profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream and I sampled the marvelous Creme Brulee! 
 It was a perfect way to end such a lovely meal. Chez Josephine is a truly unique experience that you will not forget. 
After experiencing it once, you will want to come back again and again. I know I will be going back very soon!
Peachy Picks Chez Josephine!
Chez Josephine is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know!

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