New Restaurant Review: Josephine

Kristy DurkinJanuary 30, 2020
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A chic new restaurant has materialized in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. The newly opened Josephine sits inside a refurbished historic house off of Portland and 3rd streets, offering globally inspired cuisine, craft cocktails and an extensive wine selection. I was invited for an introduction experience and I was dazzled.

The 1919 historic bungalow is a choice location for Josephine. The matte-black exterior boldly stands out among the surrounding city buildings and looks oh-so dapper. Making my way to the entrance, I get the distinct feeling this place is going to be a little something different. The semi-private front patio helps shelter the gem from the bustling city outside. My first impression is that I had walked into a fine dining establishment. The interior is stunning, simplistic and graceful with French inspired details. The friendly staff quickly sets the tone of an approachable atmosphere to counter my first impression. As I settle in, I immediately notice how unpretentious the restaurant is and I can’t help but find this place flat-out enjoyable. I am offered craft cocktails which are almost too pretty to drink, but I overhear that they are pouring Cab Franc (which happens to be my favorite wine) and I am delighted to see it’s a label I recognize and adore.

Josephine is led by dynamic duo TNS Lifestyle and Executive Chef Ryan Pitt. “Having the opportunity to bring culturally inspired food and flavors from around the world to Phoenix excites me,” Pitt said in a press release. “I’ve been hungry to helm a restaurant that enables me to do that and TNS Lifestyle not only supports, but shares my vision for Josephine.” The menu offers both small and large plates intended for sharing using high-quality ingredients with traditional French cooking techniques combined with global flavors.

Trays of canapés start to make their way toward my direction and as I get a glimpse of the stunning selection, I become eager for them to arrive.  As I stated above, the menu is drawing inspiration from cuisines all around the world and that started to ring true as vegan dumplings and creative Asian-southern inspired Cajun spicy spring rolls float by. Gorgeous plating details like a dainty flower garnish enchant my senses, coaxing me to eat more. Chicken satay arrives next, followed by Indian-inspired lamb samosa. The sampling ends with divine lavender beignets for dessert. The fusions were flawless. I usually encounter at least one dish that doesn’t quite live up to its full potential, but Josephine is the exception. Each, to put it simply, was balanced and beautiful.

Just when I thought Josephine couldn’t get any better, I was informed there is a speakeasy. Exiting through the rear and passing through a small courtyard, I encounter a long sleek building, Coup de Grâce. A separate main entrance is located off a side street and gives patrons the impression of an edgy, vintage French alley as they walk in. Large enough for about 30 people, the rectangular room has a tantalizing red neon glow that could be straight out of the Moulin Rouge in Paris. A long bar runs almost the entire length of the room and will be slinging modern twists on cocktail classics. Diners can head over to Coup de Grâce for a nightcap since the speakeasy will be open until 1 a.m.

Both Josephine and Coup de Grâce are exceptional additions to Downtown. Though each offer different experiences, either would be perfect for a date night or an evening out with friends. I am looking forward to my next visit to this quaint oasis in the city and even more thrilled that it’s located so close to my home!

218 E. Portland St., Phoenix

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