Jonathan Gold, the king of Los Angeles food reviews has weighed in on Next Door by Josie, a more casual, more affordable spinoff of the original Josie on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.
Located, literally, right next door, the annex celebrated its one-year anniversary, with Gold giving high marks to the bacony popcorn in his Los Angeles Times review on Saturday.
In Josie Le Balch fashion, the menu is inspired by what's in season and farmers’ market finds. She pairs small plates and snacks—such as barbecued potato chips, pickled vegetables and deviled eggs garnished with shreds of rendered duck skin—with larger dishes for sharing—such as vegetable pot pie and roasted chicken.
Gold's take? Some of these items are better than others:
When ordering Next Door, you should probably ask yourself whether a dish you have in mind might be reasonably enhanced by the attentions of a French-trained chef or whether it might not. Both the chili and the ribs are relatively dry and bland, for example, while a po' boy, a special one night, benefited from an excellent mayonnaise and the careful frying of the fish. While the cheeseburger's superstructure collapsed after a bite or two, the shrimp and grits were chefly: zapped with umami but not extravagantly, flavored with smoky bacon, slightly crisped but not overcooked. The grits were from the Allen Brothers catalog, creamy yet firm.
Next Door by Josie is at 2420 Pico Blvd.
Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour specials are 5-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the bar.
* What's your take on Next Door by Josie? Is the bacon-carmel popcorn as good as Gold describes?