Is Claude Bosi’s Josephine Worth The Hype?

By Tessa Dunthorne

2 months ago

It's where you can find the rabbit dish that keeps appearing on your TikTok feed

You’ll now be hard pressed to find a pre-9pm dinner sitting until mid May. Tessa Dunthorne finds out if Josephine is worth the hype – review spoiler: yes, it is. 

Review: Josephine By Claude Bosi

As you enter Josephine, you’ll be quickly struck by a sense that you might – maybe, just possibly – have stepped through a portal into the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. But no, if you back up through the rich velvet curtains, you’re back on Fulham Road. The cars race by with distinctly British number plates. Through the curtains again, though, and despite all sense of logic and reason, you’re in Lyon being led to the bouchon’s little wooden tables. 

The bar at Josephine Bouchon, Fulham Road

Josephine is the latest open by Claude Bosi – the (busy) chef behind two Michelin star Bibendum and recently opened eateries Socca and Brooklands. Josephine, though, is a bit more of a personal project. A co-venture with his wife, Lucy, it’s also named for, and dedicated to, his grandmother Josephine. (Bosi said to Hot Dinners that: ‘This restaurant is a very personal project for us, [it’s] an ode to my grandmother and the traditional Bouchons of Lyon that have always held a special place in our hearts.’). 

That scene in Ratatouille – where the food critic is transported back in time with a bite – comes to mind. There’s a real sense that this is Claude Bosi’s childhood Lyon, with the card menus, old school shades, and starch tablecloths. The food calls back to heartier meals that are no-fuss but excellent. It’s an insight into his very personal ‘madeleine de proust’, served up in dollop via the interior design and on your plate. 

And how lucky we are to get to rattle around in his culinary memories. Every single dish is made with the kind of love you only find in nostalgia recipes (and a good amount of butter). 

So, we enter through a curtain that acts as a portal to France. The waiter leads us to a table that has to be pulled out from among its neighbours so we can slide into the leather seats. We’re sat elbow to elbow with our neighbours, happy diners who appear content with the communal experience of the whole affair. There’s one advantage to this proximity in particular – it’s a prime opportunity to preview the menu up close. It’s easy to order when you can point to your tablemate and say, ‘I’ll have that please.’ 

Wine, too, is a straightforward process. If you’re having the house (and you should), it is served by the metre in a dangerous but wonderful concept. The bottle remains at your table – you’re charged at the end for how much you get through.

After the wine, it’s the baguette (we’re in Lyon, after all). It’s crusty, served with a little plate of butter and it’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s fresh and homely. It arrives with the chef himself – Mr Bosi – who pops out to explain the starters. The personal touch is appreciated (again, homely). The starters we try – the terrine de campagne and soufflé au Saint-Félicien – are genuinely a delight. The terrine is ultra fresh, no preservative flavouring, and while awfully rich it’s set off well against sharp cornichon and little pickled onions. Frustratingly, this becomes maybe the best terrine I’ve had in my life – and on Fulham Road, no less. The soufflé is fun, the kind of thing you can pick up with a fork and watch goo in slow motion towards the plate. Rich, thick and bubbly. It’s the kind of dish that’ll have you celebrating Bastille day and thanking god that bistrots are back en vogue. 

The rabbit dish at Josephine Bouchon

This is the one dish you absolutely must order

The one dish you must order – and apologies if this causes a table argument – is the rabbit to share. You probably know this anyway, as this is the dish that’s cropping up on Instagram and TikTok feeds, owing to the cute Dutch oven it arrives in. What social media can’t convey is how intoxicating the smell is once that lid is off, though. Mustard and tarragon sauce encase this bunny and the whole thing has been used, offal and all, so the flavours go deep. The rabbit falls apart on the fork and the sauce is pure tang. By the time we order, the dauphinoise is all out for the night, but the perfect sidekick for this hoppy dish is the pomme duchesse, golden on the outside and practically mash inside. 

Dessert, too, is a joy. I try the lemon tart. It’s sherbert sour and makes me wince but it’s impossible to put down the fork, act of masochism or not. 

By the end of the meal, I have to admit: I feel I’ve gained several stone in one sitting. But it’s worth it for a meal so comforting it’s a bit like a warm hug and a moment being transported to France amid a drizzly British spring. 

Final Word: Is It Worth The Hype?

Yes, Claude Bosi’s Josephine is worth the hype. It offers no nonsense Lyonnaise cuisine served up with a dollop of proper beurre in good portion sizes. It’s well worth booking in advance to secure a table here for any special occasion.