Celery, carrot sticks, cottage cheese. Yuck! So much of the food that’s good for you is, in my not-so-humble opinion, just plain bad. So I thank my lucky stars for restaurants like Josie’s Kitchen, the newly opened Upper East Side branch of the popular Upper West Side eatery, where virtuousness and deliciousness are not mutually exclusiveness.
True, a visit to Josie’s is not necessarily a low-calorie experience, certainly not when it’s bracketed on one end by truly good homemade bread and rolls (served with a yummy red pepper spread) and on the other by a slice of decadent and aptly-named “heavenly” chocolate pudding pie, complete with a perfect graham cracker crust and fresh whipped cream. But the restaurant does focus on using solely natural and organic ingredients (such as the chocolate pudding) and many of its preparations utilize minimal amounts of monounsaturated oils and other not-so-good-for-you stuff.
I really have no idea what the chef used for the basis of his special gumbo, complete with chunks of chicken, shrimp, and sausage, but it proved the perfect starter on a surprisingly chilly Spring evening. Equally good were a quintet of nicely steamed dumplings filled with a mixture of broccoli and organic Belgian potato (and you thought they only made chocolate!)
Choosing a main dish is a daunting task: there are sections of the menu devoted to vegetable stir-fries, salads, and “un-fried rice,” each of which can be paired with chicken, shrimp, salmon, tuna, calamari or tofu. But I opted to have the salmon (hand-farmed, antibiotic, and hormone-free, dontcha know) grilled. It arrived rare as requested, with a slight ancho chili glaze, and accompanied by a very tasty sweet potato mash, huge stalks of grilled asparagus, and a beautifully composed mango-and-roasted pepper salsa.
Now that I know how to eat so well – in every sense of the word – I’ll be back for braised natural short ribs with red wine, organic macaroni and cheese with wild mushrooms and peas, and maybe even a slice of warm three-berry ginger pie. Ok, so maybe it’s not the same as being on the South Beach diet, but it’s a lot more fun!