Romantic and interesting, the Bistro's décor suffers only in its choice of dining furniture. The restaurant offers an interesting variety of crepes; but the menu, in truth, contains more in the way of fine-dining French cuisine –- a selection that is somewhat at odds with the restaurant’s “Creperie & Bistro” concept.
- Located in downtown Ferndale
- Convenient parking
- Unique cuisine
- Prices $8 to $27
Josephine Creperie & Bistro occupies a storefront along 9 Mile Road in Ferndale. The “Bistro” in the title conjures up a certain expectation in regard to décor and menu, but the reality is a mishmash of concepts.
A lot of care, style and ingenuity is apparent in much of the decoration, from the rag-painted walls and original paintings to the subdued lighting achieved by papered light fixtures. The dining area is long and narrow, from the bay window at the storefront along Nine Mile Road to the second-floor terrace located at the back of the restaurant.
The restaurant creates a traditional romantic feel. In addition to candles, wine bottles filled with dried flowers adorn each table. A mismatched assortment of tables, chairs and booths, undoubtedly chosen in an effort to create an eclectic, informal décor, results in a spattering of cheap-looking dining furniture at odds with the atmosphere evoked by the rest of the decoration and menu.
The trouble is that the furniture choice is not truly eclectic. The care and style given to the rest of the décor makes the tables stand out as simply cheap rather than informally stylish. The chairs are mainly the type used in banquet halls: made of metal with a triangularly shaped backs. Many of the tables are made of faux-wood Formica, and the molded-plastic booths look like they were purchased from a defunct Subway Sub.
Yes, there are occasional mismatched wooden chairs, but not in sufficient numbers or of sufficient character to meet the eclectic definition as provided by dictionary.com: "...selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.”
The restaurant gets extra stars just for providing a type of cuisine not readily available in the Metro Detroit Area: crepes. The selections listed on the menu leave little doubt that a chef was involved in testing and creating the combination of ingredients. This was best demonstrated in the Ham & Cheese Crepe. While the buckwheat crepe was delicious, it was the accompanying Spiced Aioli, a garlic mayonnaise with hints of lemon juice, mustard and ketchup, that elevated the dish to a new level.
The Chicken Crepe contained fresh asparagus and a generous amount of thick, long strips of grilled, white-meat chicken. It was covered with a Whole Grain Mustard Cream Sauce that was reminiscent of the Magic Pan’s Chicken Divan crepe. Frankly it is a dish that requires an appreciation of rich, cream sauce.
Unfortunately, the Spinach Crepe didn’t quite live up to its description, which included mention of Ricotta and Parmesan Chesses, Béchamel Sauce and Tomato Coulis. In spite of the combination of obviously fresh ingredients, the dish was simply bland.
The crepe entrees were served with a large portion of lightly-candied carrots. In addition to demonstrating restraint in the candying process, the carrot slices were diagonally cut from what must have been State-Fair sized carrots. They were enormous, properly cooked and coated, and a real highlight.
While Crepes are the expected dish considering the restaurant’s name, they serve as just one category of entrée ($8 to $17). The “Additional Entrees” make up the bigger portion of the French-cuisine menu and include Lamb Shanks, Beef Short Ribs, Chicken Coq Au Van and Filet Mignon ($15 to $27). These fine-dining choices are a surprise and feel like something of a risk given the bistro concept and atmosphere of the restaurant.
Josephine’s Creperie and Bistro offers wine and Champaign. In fact, it even produces its own wine. While the wine is appropriate to the restaurant’s concept, a beer selection would also be appreciated.
In addition to sweet crepes and Crème Brulee, the restaurant offers chocolate custard. It was served cold and tasted like a thickened mouse of bittersweet chocolate. The raspberry drizzle and fresh whipped cream was actually the tastier part of the dish and provided a much-needed contrast.
In the winter months, it is advisable to stay away from the front window, which is drafty. A second entrance at the back of the restaurant is convenient to a large parking area and is where the hostess stand is located.