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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Josephine Cafe & Bistro @ Ipoh Garden South

Ipoh and fine dining rarely come together in the sam sentence. Bar some restaurants eg. Indulgence, Citrus, Brewster, Italia Mia, and cafes in hotels, Ipoh's more synonymous with hawker fare and cheap food. And take note that I'm using the term 'fine dining' loosely here, as past experiences in some of the more opulent restaurants revealed the darker side of F&B management, quality and service; Mediocre food, paired with bad service, anyone?
The classy interior of the bistro, surrounded with translucent glass walls, an alluring diversion to the pedestrians walking by
So imagine the surprise on my face, as we stepped into Josephine Cafe & Bistro one fine evening for a supposedly 'simple' dinner (I've had heavy lunch and tea break beforehand), in my shorts and slippers, only to be thankful not to be reprimanded for dressing indecently. I meant, inappropriately. =P
Dad was the one suggesting this new outlet, saying something along the line of coffee bistro or something. And painted in my mind was another run-of-the-mill kopitiam of sorts. Whoopsie.

They take pride in their brand of imported Illy coffee. Other than SSTC (Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe), I've yet to come across another restaurant in Ipoh serving this brand of Italian coffee. Anyone?

The ambience exudes a warm, comfortable setting for a perfect dinner, with enough lighting for one to differentiate the olive from the black bean. They even have an upper seating area, which overlooks the whole dining area beneath. Cool, but refrain from wearing mini skirts, if you get my drift.


Fish & Chips (RM26)
Given the setting, and the service delivered (service was prompt, without any mistakes or blatant inexperiences albeit the confusion of orders hence the misplacement of cutleries), you can expect to pay through your nose for a decent meal here. Food ranges from RM20+, with burgers and salads slightly below that price. Beverages consist of coffee (obviously) in various forms, but mostly RM10 and above. For desserts they Illy Affogato (coffee+vanilla ice cream), tiramisu (yeah, 'creativity'), and pancakes.
Grandma's order of fish and chips came with sides of crinkle-cut fries (yup, those ready to be fried type from supermarkets), greens (lettuce and purple cabbage drizzled with some vinaigrette), hard/frozen baby carrots, and minimal serving of mayonaise. The pan-fried dory fish fillet was good, not too much batter, and the flesh was tender and sweet, but still reeking from faint muddy taste. They could've been more generous with the mayo though.
Fueslli Carbonara (RM25)

No, it's not a typo. It's really spelt fueslli, though I think fusilli's the real spelling for the pasta. Enlighten me, anyone?
Carbonara remains a safe choice of sorts for me, as nothing beats the creamy, sinful sauce with bacons and eggs. But the Fusilli Carbonara at Josephine's was too rich, the sauce a tad too thick & clinging onto the pasta, with too much eggs being used. Some may prefer their carbonara sauce thick, but I prefer mine to be slightly watery, for that creamy texture.
Pollo Golden Bleu (RM32)
Dad's order of Pollo Golden Bleu (Chicken Cordon Bleu) was delicious. The creamy mozzarella and ricotta cheese combination, and ham stuffed into the batter-fried chicken breast meat was sinfully good, every mouthful a bliss. Though I only got to taste ONE solitary mouthful. =(
Thankfully, the chicken meat was tender and juicy, and the sides of boiled potatoes was miles better than the crinkle-cut fries. But minor gripe here; The portion was way too small, not doing the price any justice.

Josephine Burger (RM18)

With a name like Josephine Burger, it doesn't take a genius to realise it's one of their signature item on the menu. But of course, this doesn't hold true at times. When Friday's Burger is merely beef and cheese burger, and Old Town Special Coffee is merely double shot of coffee, or rather, single shot in smaller cup.

Half expected the burger to be something like David's Diner's Miniature ones, we were pleasantly surprised to see the burger arriving in its full glory, sandwiched between 3 thick slices (or slabs, more like it) of soft, wheat bread was a slice of supposedly prime beef cut, a fried egg that's more solid than runny, lettuce, and two olives perched atop the grand structure.

Sadly, the beef was overdone, requiring more chewing and far from tender. The egg yolk was hardened, though the whites was ok. The bread was clearly the star of the dish, though that's not really saying much.

Crinkle-cut Fries ... Soggy and oily ....
Paying RM18 for a burger may sound absurd for Ipoh's standards, but you'll expect at least thick cut fries from good quality potatoes, or fresh homemade mashed potatoes. But nope, you'll be served with soggy and oily fries, and a dollop of mayonaise on the side in a small bowl. Hmm, I'd rather have them serving the burger with salad instead.

Thai Green Curry (RM15)
Thankfully, Mum's order of Thai Green Curry with rice was passable. Far from the real authentic stuff, and a bit spicier than the mild green curry we're accustomed to. But the roasted cherry tomatoes were juicy, fresh and rendered the dish a tangy flavour. The accompanying rice was fluffy, reminded me of a certain Malay dish, with finely-chopped bits of dried shrimps for some crunch.

A whole chicken thigh cooked in spicy (yes, spicy) green curry with roasted cherry tomatoes

The chickent thigh came in whole, with the upper part, and cooked til tender, infused with the spices and luscious green curry. I'm probably singing praises for the chicken as the other dishes we had that evening were nothing short of disastrous, aside from the Cordon Bleu.


Kick off your Shoes. let down your Hair and unwind in a cuppa Illy coffee ....


Al fresco dining's another option, if the formal setting indoor is unsettling
On the whole, the meal was rather unimpressive, but given the quality of the service, the charming ambience, and several interesting items on the menu, I may return again. Least, we Ipohans have another place for a proper evening outing. Or, we can always fall back on the famous hawker fare .... Oh Glorious Street Food !!!
Location : Josephine Cafe & Bistro @ .... oops. The address is not printed on the receipt. But this bistro is situated at Ipoh Garden Plaza in Ipoh Garden South, facing the main road of Jalan Tasek. Here's a MAP, in case you need assistance.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

illy coffee in Ipoh? Big Apple Donuts in Kinta city is also using illy brand coffee. A cup cost only RM4. Come with a complimentary donut too.

Selba said...

Can see that this bistro has a nice ambience, especially for young couples to spend their valentine's day, rite? ;)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ohh once u go illy..theres really nothing thats better..

fine dining? no la..this still looks miles away from KL fine dining..

for starters..dont think fine dining serves fish n chips..

550ml jar of faith said...

Crinkle cut chips!? If you're not a hawker in slippers and dirty apron with full meals at no more than RM7.50, you don't serve crinkle cuts!! The serving size of sauce for the fish and chips is laughable! Back to the dependable Ipoh hawker fare we go!

kampungboycitygal said...

whoa im so outdated! msut check out these places during cny

Nic (KHKL) said...

the name of the cafe is really cool. and very personalised as well! the melted cheese oozing out of the cordon bleu looks good!

somehow, this reminded me of delicious cafe. nice.

SimpleGirl said...

You so fast, last Wed I passed by still haven't open. Anyway, wanna to check this out also..but seems to be quite pricey for Ipoh standard, Fish n Chips cost RM26? I love the ambiance, looks cool.

Yea, saw the Illy coffee "advertisement" by them, feel that's a bit too much.

SimpleGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New Kid on the Blog said...

wow, fish and chips for RM26, expensive lor!!!!

penang is selling RM21, is already expensive leh... not any other fish but dory fish only wor... worth that price meh???

anneray said...

Wow you are indeed fast! Was targeting the place since last week when I drove past it. So I went there the day after it's opening. Was HAPPILY surprised that they were serving Illy coffee... Finally, my favourite fine coffee has arrived in Ipoh (that is apart from our infamous Ipoh White Coffee). My two-cents about the place: GREAT ambience, LOVE the decor but the food leaves a lot to be desired. Their saving grace is probably the COFFEE!I gave them my comments about the food, so hopefully they will improve cos I would still love to go back there for the coffee.

Shell (貝殼) said...

A bit busy recently, that's why can't really reply on time and unable to visit you'll ...sorry^^
Everything's will back to normal after CNY.
Wish you have a happy & properous CNY^^

genuiness said...

So, to sum it up... yet another pretentious rip-off joint in Ipoh?

Illy coffee at Josephine = RM10, illy coffee at Citrus = RM5...

Prices seem to be astronomical for what they are. I have no qualms about paying more money if the food justifies it... but RM26 for fish and chips with a) frozen chips b) non existent batter on the fish = epic fail. The proprietors need to have a serious rethink about their pricing. Put it this way, here in London, I can go down to my local fish and chip shop and pay £4.50 (RM23 by current exchange rate) and get a HUGE piece of cod (twice the size of your skinny dory) with a huge portion of home made chips. And this is LONDON we are talking about... food here is very expensive!

Also it is Fusilli, and your carbonara sauce looks scrambled - I don't think its as much as using too much egg as it is them simply over cooking the egg.

genuiness said...

also to Joe who is constantly craving.. I actually have had fish and chips at a fine dining (michelin star) restaurant. It may be simple street food, but its all in execution too.

mimid3vils said...

Don't think they are fine dining, hehe ^.^(from the lousy fries)..

Wishing u : GONG XI FA CAI !!!

Precious Pea said...

They even sew their own cushion cover!! Cool! I shall do that for Pea and Pumpkin, but first i need to learn how to sew. Hehehe...

RM18 for the plate of so-called burger definitely a rip off.

KCA said...

wei.. motormouth... nice place wo.. muz go n try once.. haha...

ooo... avoid mini skirts?? hmm... too bad too bad.. =P

FCOE said...

hahah finally some place near my house..hmm..can give it try one day..friday okie!

adeL said...

I like the title, that shows the owner is proud of what she's doing and is willing to have every item on the menu to be judged at the expense of her reputation.
Well, that's my opinion.

Ambience: Cozy yet spacious, suits tropical M'sia very well, seems airy too, casual yet elegant. (I just hope that they have all the precautions to keep the mosquitoes at bay at al fresco area,one thing I am afraid sitting outdoor in M'sia is bcause of those nasty blood sucking flies)

Food: It is more like a mix of food from a british chipper shop and cafe food than fine dining. What a pity for such a name and a nicely done place.
1. Fries are near whit colour. Worse still, they are not fresh straight cut fries???!!! Urgh..
2. Fish is over fried and oily. The rest..mediocre.

When I was in Ipoh, friends told me Ipoh'ans' are not willing to pay expensive price for food. They like good quality and reasonable priced casual food. Which I agree and understand. The pricing ought to be adjusted to suit locals. Where possible, home made fries would add a personal touch to the food.

adeL said...

Ooopss, silly me, just realised the shop name is Josephine Cafe & Bistro..Ok, yes, standard cafe food..but quality and cooking skills are not there yet acc. to the pics..
By any means, the owner aims it at fine dining is another question..hmm..

CUMI & CIKI said...

sooooo expensive the fish and chips. KL can get good one for half the price! And soggy chips?! Mana boleh? Fast food can do a better job la.

Ipoh up market dining is rather cut throat.. dunno what they are trying to prove.. maybe they think ppl assoc. expensive with FINE (as in fine dining). sad.

Tummythoz said...

When in Ipoh, my choice will always be Glorious Beansprout Chicken Rice. :)

jason said...

Ipoh Garden Plaza? Meaning they occupied the previous dim sum lot?

The design and interior looks really relaxing... I won't mind sitting outside on a lazy, gloomy Sunday noon.

Shopping Queen.... said...

I went there too last Sat and it's their first day of opening. My frens commented that the garlic bread that they served is good. I personally don't like the fries served but thr's one of my fren whom loved it. The coffee that we ordered is good too :) I thought of going there again to try the food but seems like it's not a good choice. Hahahaha ~ I love the enviroment there cuz it's very cosy n relaxing.

Btw, we are being chrged RM15 for the cake that we bought cuz they are selling cakes too and it cost RM90.00/cake.

J2Kfm said...

Anonymous : oh Big Apple serves Illy as well? ok, now I know where to get my fix!

Selba : yeah, the place looks good, very comfy, with cushions bearing the name, Josephine.

Joe : yeah, I agree. probably in their trying period? let's hope they buck up and change.

550ml Jar of Faith : yeah, I was slightly discouraged at 1st. for that price, least we should get better quality fish, and sides.

kampungboycitygal : nope, you're not exactly outdated lah ... its rather new.

Nic : maybe presentation-wise of the food resembles Delicious. the pasta at Josephine's really big portion though.

SimpleGirl : oh, pls do check this place out. I'm sure since CNY hols, the business must be booming for them!

NKOTB : I think not. and with that hint of muddy taste, you'll be better off getting your fish n chips at any western food outlets in ipoh.

anneray : hi! you're fast too! let's hope they change for the better, as the place looks promising for a dinner (not exactly quiet one though, the trance-y music was blaring at the background. u noticed?)

Shell : hi, no sweat! happy CNY!

J2Kfm said...

genuiness : oh, Citrus serving Illy as well? at half the price?! wow. yeah true. one can get good fish n chips in UK/Aust at that price!

mimid3vils : happy CNY! lousy fries aside, they really need to buck up the quality of their food. it's of course, a cafe and bistro, not a full-fledge fine dining restaurant, but still .... a tad pricey for Ipoh's standards!

Precious Pea : cushion cover for them both? hahaha..wont they just rip them off?!!!

KCA : haha, you planning to wear your killer skirts?!!! then sit downstairs!

FCOE : friday? hahaha.. think you'd better come to an agreement with the 'Fussy One' ...

aDel : yeah, if its pricey, least give the best quality and quantity you can. don't find the easy way out and serve fries from supermarket, and unproperly-thawed baby carrots.

cumi & ciki : hmm, i'll have to agree with u there. still longing for a proper dining place in Ipoh. Citrus is currently atop my list.

Tummythoz : GBCR? wow. sounds cool .... hahahah ...

jason : got dimsum meh?!!! *_* sorry, very lost. seldom eat there. for a cuppa, its ok. but the cakes also mahal bit.

Shopping Queen : maybe I should go again, and give them another try b4 judging. gotta let them sort out their devils, no?

mycroft said...

nearly step into the place last mon, but quick look at the ambience make me feel uneasy to part with my wallet, lol, ended up eating somewhere else.
prob i kedekut ma...

iamthewitch said...

I'm sorry to hear about the poor food quality of this so-called bistro. Their price is way too high up for the quality of their food served. I mean dory fish??? In Penang, for that price, we could get much better fish. When I go back Ipoh, I think I'll still stick back to coffee shops/hawker stalls. Kong Heng here I come! :P

J2Kfm said...

mycroft : hahaha, it was a wise decision anyway. Monday, with the other gang from ur place?

iamthewitch : yeah, dory. of all fish. that price can net a small pc of codfish, or salmon.

genuiness said...

do you know which type of dory it is? Some dory's are pretty expensive e.g. John Dory.

also why do people keep referring to Cod as cod fish. Its kind of like calling chicken 'chicken meat' or beef 'beef meat'. Just irks me i guess :P

camie said...

i was there one night during the cny week.. poor service very poor.. when i reached they say full house but few tables are empty but not cleared.. then i waited 15 mins for them to clear the table. i ordered coffee and caeser salad. the drink took half an hour to serve and the waiter say " ur salad is coming" and what happen nxt? one and a half hours to wait for a salad.. do u even need to cook? omg.. for the price i'm paying i rather go to indulgence , sstc or anywhere else

Anonymous said...

The enviroment is nice, the cushion is nice, the music is nice....but the food so so, and yet the price is high. about service, we are standing infront of the bar waiting to be seated, meanwhile waiters/ waitress just looking at us standing at the doorside.....
while we ask is there any empty place at other side, the waiter did not look for us but stand still right there.
fren bring a SLR camera but not allowed to shot photo using the SLR.

italiannese in KL is much more better, RM25++ per pasta is for two but in josephine just for one....and the quality is far more different.

illy in josephine is so so...i think is personal error, waste the good coffee...paying RM10 for a bad coffee, rather go to starbucks or indulgence or coffee bean

with such food quality in ipoh...hard to survive....

J2Kfm said...

genuiness : probably just used to the way most restaurants call the fish as codfish. you have silverfish, catfish etc .... :)

camie : pity your less than satisfactory experience at the place. mine was not that positive either. wondering if they've improved nowadays.

Anonymous : you cant snap with an SLR? I was shooting with my phone, probably that was why i got off the hook. yeah, wondering how long can they survive with premium price and mediocre food.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the owner of this blog for posting such wonderful pictures , reviews and full address of locations.

Thanks to the internet creator. Without him/her we would not be connected to know more info in this world.

Thank you God.

J2Kfm said...

you're most welcomed, Anonymous one. :)

of course, i'm answering to the FIRST line of thanks.

Anonymous said...

hey, im actually looking for a place named The Dining PLace in ipoh. anyone knows where is this place? a map? a website? what is this place like?

J2Kfm said...

sorry Anonymous. haven't heard of. any Ipoh ppl out there would like to assist?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you strongly that joesphine cafe serves MEDIOCRE food and BAD service, I have to emphasize that its not only BAD service, its SUPER BAD!!! I told them the Mocha tasted lousy as its really bitter, the lady, I guess she is the restaurant owner, to my surprise, she refuted that Illy's Mocha was like that!!

I have tried the same Illy's Mocha at Indulgence and Maria's, both of them tasted more or less the same, how come Joesphine serves different Mocha?????? Probably they are outstanding and unique, that's the only reason I would say haha

Anonymous said...

opps.....Im sorry that I misread your 1st paragraph, however, I have to say that they didnt offer good service that day when I visited this cafe, and the lady's attitude is kinda disappointing.

jack said...

yesterday i went to the worst restaurant in ipoh. Both the service and foods were terrible. The restaurant is call josephine ( its situated in ipoh garden south , inside the parkson ria's old building).
First of all, you must make yourself free for at least one hour because your food won't arrive after 30 minutes even if you just ordered garlic bread only. The design inside actually not too bad but the services they provide will make you feel like you in hell. The waitress...is damn rude ( bare in mind the price is those high end restaurant prices). Me and my family ordered ice blended coffee , garlic breads, pancakes, salads etc. You will be surprised what actually arrived at your table.The ice blended is ....actually not really blended but a lot of ice cubes floating inside your coffee( but they charged like rm 12 to rm 14 for the ice blended coffee... more than coffee beans.)Then, the under baked garlic bread arrived. We had to ask them to send the garlic bread back to the kitchen to rebake it. ( very reluctantly by that waitress). Then this 'wonderful' waitress come and clean up the table while we still eating our food. We asked the waitress to stop cleaning first, then she just turned rudely to us and say "NO". I got the shock of my life. The nightmare didn't end there,then the pancake haven't even arrived yet after 1 hour in the restaurant. We asked like 3 times for the pancake, again, the waitress didn't bother much. At the end we decided to cancel the pancake as the enviroment inside is so terrible, so that we can get out of this place ASAP!!!
For people who think might want to step in this place again............... think twice

raj said...

it's not really fine dining!
i think it's just not worth what I paid!
it's nothing attractive

J2Kfm said...

hi raj, this bistro is really earning the ire of so many diners.
not even one positive feedback?
from that meagre dining experience until now, i've yet to visit Josephine again.

Anonymous said...

josephine is fantastically TERRIBLE! went for set lunch just now with my hubby, we were the only patrons there, but waited 1/2 hour for food! VERY slow & staff VERY blur! food not worth the money! had to rush back to work too! should've read these comments earlier. never again wil i step into josephine!!!

Anonymous said...

Haaha. i've never been to Josephine. But the food dont seem good. Maria's serves yummy illy coffee ! and yea.. its only half the pric of Josephine's. And.. the fish & chips in the photo dont seem nice as well.. and i think its over priced! You should try Maria's fish & chips.. I think it has one of the best fish & chips ever.. crispy batter and soft in the inside!

J2Kfm said...

Hi Anonymous and, erm Anonymous!
Indeed, that was my first and last visit to Josephine.
I have been getting poor reviews from almost everyone who had dined there before.

Anonymous said...

Mr J2K,

If I might suggest next time you are in KL, head over to George & Dragon Pub in Bangsar Shopping Centre. By far the best fish and chips I had in KL. Reminded me of my London days. Mushy peas, home made chips, large portion of fish, all for RM20.

IpohBoy