Test Driving Josephine Bouchon - Claude Bosi brings Lyon to London

Looking into Josephine. You can just see into the back room (through the arch). 

What is Josephine? 

Claude Bosi has been busy. After years in South Kensington with his eponymous two-Michelin-starred restaurant at the Bibendum building, he's spent the last year opening a string of successful restaurants. First, there was the south of France-focused Socca, launched this time last year with top restaurateur Samyukta Nair in Mayfair. That was followed by Brooklands, the restaurant at the top of Peninsula London that's dominated by a Concorde model on the ceiling. It managed to win two Michelin stars in record time, only four months after opening. 

This latest creation from Bosi seems the most personal of the bunch. Not only has he teamed up with his wife for this opening, but the cooking also draws from his own roots in Lyon. So you'll see a mix of some classic French and specifically Lyonnaise dishes on the menu. 

Where is it?

If you're familiar with the area, you'll find it almost directly opposite the Fulham Road Picturehouse cinema, taking over the space that used to be Colette. If you're not quite familiar and happen to make the trip by public transport, it's a little trek from the nearest tube stop. The best bet (from our experience) is to go to Sloane Square and then either get a bus closer or taxi directly to the restaurant. 

What if I fancy a drink before or after?

There is a small bar space at the front, and we did spot a few people lingering there with a drink after the meal but it's really not a place you can just pop into. So instead, the best nearby options seem to be a five-minute walk back to the King's Road and Calooh Callay Chelsea, or just a little further to the Cadogan Arms. 

Where should I sit?

If you're a group of four, the best tables are the central ones you can see in the photo at the top of the page. Alternatively, we'd probably put a preference on sitting in the front room (particularly during the day). That said, we do like the way the back room has been made up to look a little cosier, and that space also works as a semi-private dining area. 

So, onto the food - what can we expect?

It's probably best described as classic French bistro food but taken up a significant notch by Bosi's cooking. You'll find standard bistro fare on the menu like a steak tartare (£10 starter, £18 main), a French onion soup that comes highly recommended by other diners (£9) and an onglet steak with shallot sauce (£24). Alternatively, you could go very French and order the frogs' legs with garlic butter (£19).

It's also worth mentioning that their Terrine de Campagne comes from George Jephson, the man behind Cadet's terrines, so that's going to be a good bet. 

As for us? Here's what we went for. Everything on the menu is in French and English, but we've just picked the English descriptions for simplicity:

eggSoft-boiled egg in jelly (£8.50) - if the textural joys of a soft egg encased in intensely flavoured duck jelly is something you could get on board with, then this is an absolute belter of a starter.

souffleSaint-Félicien cheese soufflé (£9.50) - perfectly sized and exquisitely cheesy.

codCornish cod, shallot butter beurre blanc (£21) - make sure you get some of the bread, as you'll absolutely need it to mop up the butter sauce. 

sweetbreadVeal sweetbread, morel mushroom sauce (£44) - brown food par excellence

Anything to go with that?

Vegetable side options are a little on the short side, with just hispi cabbage and a salad available. Petit pois a la Francaise might have been a perfect addition here. But there is recompense for that in something that we'll always have time for, a dedicated Pommes de Terre section. You can choose puree, duchess, steamed and frites but frankly, you're only allowed to order any of those after you've already tried this: 

sweetbreadGratin dauphinoise for two (£18) - We pride ourselves on making a pretty great potato dauphinoise, but this creamy, garlicky delight was next-level. Do not miss it. 

And what about dessert? 

There are two large sharing desserts, rice pudding with caramelised apple (£18) and chocolate mousse (£16) alongside other options like a praline or lemon meringue tart. We don't think you can go wrong with the following though:

sweetbreadChoux pastry, vanilla Chantilly cream (£8)

sweetbreadThe real showstopper is the rum baba £12). You'll see that roaming the room inside this dome. They'll bring it to your table, cut off a slice and then douse it in your choice of rum. 

sweetbreadThe baba is VERY boozy and comes with a separate bowl of vanilla Chantilly cream.

Is there a set lunch option?

Not only that, but there's a set menu available at any time which is an absolute steal for this level of cooking. It's two courses for £24.50, three for £29.50 and you'll find a number of dishes on there that aren't on the main menu. They include brawn (from George Jephson again), boudin noir and mashed potato, floating islands and more.  Frankly, it's worth making two trips to try both the main a la carte and the set menu. 

And that's not all - there's also a special of the day (look out for the board on the wall) with options like mussels and frites or beef bourguignon (£15.50 each).

What about wine?

While the wine list can reach pretty steep prices rather quickly, it starts out very reasonable. The house wine is £6 a glass and £27 a bottle and they serve that in the classic French "au metre" style - leaving the bottle with you and measuring how much you drink. Outside of that, there's a decent amount of wines by carafe/pot (starting at £29 for 460ml) and bottles start at £28, although you'll have to dig through the menu for that one. Many more options are available between £40 and £70 and if you can afford into the £100s, you'll find a lot to choose from here, heading upwards to a 2018 Domaine Sylvain Cathiard at £999. We had a fabulous Vallée du Rhône white from Bernard Gripa which was SO good.

Other than a few options for a gin and tonic, there are no cocktails, but there's a decent selection of Armagnacs, rums and even French whisky.  

Overall thoughts

Claude Bosi is on fire at the moment. He's currently at three-for-three on his new restaurants as Josephine is clearly another winner. A welcoming, lively room combines with some truly great cooking to create a near-perfect neighbourhood restaurant. The locals must be very happy and it's also well worth making the journey across town for. We hear that Bosi might not be done on the new openings, and if this one is anything to go by the next will be well worth keeping an eye on too. 


More about Josephine

Where is it? 315 Fulham Road, London SW10 9QH

How to book: Book online

Find out more: Follow them on Instagram @josephinebouchon

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Josephine. Prices are correct at the time of writing.


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