Monday, October 10, 2011

Bouchon: Dine L.A.

Beverly Hills has it’s fare share of eateries by famous chefs. First to come to mind is eponymous to the Hills food scene, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago. Puck practically celebritzed the world of cooking and paved Rodeo with invitations for other celebrity chefs to make their way. The most recent of which to head on down is Thomas Keller.

Keller is known mainly for his work at the ultra-popular and multiple James Beard winner The French Laundry in Napa, and now for his new chain of Bouchon restaurants. The Beverly Hills location is the third outpost of Bouchon’s from the Keller Group which opened late 2009. I had the pleasure of eating at the Bouchon in Las Vegas earlier that same year and was excited to learn upon returning home that he was going to be opening one closer to my local stomping ground.

I’d been waiting for an excuse to finally head to Beverly Hills and now in 2011 that time is here, Dine L.A.. A great event held over the course of two weeks in Los Angeles where hundreds of restaurants in different price tiers offer prix fixe menus. It’s a great opportunity to try that restaurant you’ve always been meaning to, but never got around to making a reservation. For me that was Bouchon.

Bouchon Bistro is secretly located above the newly opened Bouchon Bakery. I say secretly located because it’s confusing to find. When I first arrived I wandered around the courtyard, in and out of Bar Bouchon, which also serves food, and finally into the bakery. I finally gave up and asked for directions. There really isn’t any direct signage to implicate that up the wooden stairs in the bakery is a French bistro.

But once you do find your way your first greeted by, well a greeter, who then directs you down a long hall paralleled by windows facing the courtyard to another greater who will take your name again and finally seat you. We opted to sit on the patio for better photo lighting.

First on the food list is the complimentary braided sourdough with a dish of soft salted butter. I remembered it well from Vegas mostly because I made a mess while eating it. The crust shattered all across the table. Here the bread was warm, unsurprisingly slightly sour, and surprisingly less messy. No shattering crust this time!

For my appetizer I had the mushroom salad. It was an attractive dish light on the palate. The bright pink pickled radishes complimented well with the earthiness of the varietal mushrooms.

My dining companion had the Soup du Jour, today being Butternut Squash. The soup was silky smooth and again looked lovely accented by deep red cranberries. The soup alone I liked, but the tartness of the cranberries was off-putting all in one spoon. Perhaps the cranberries were meant to be treated more like a garnish? They were this soup’s parsley.

My Croque Monsieur came piled high with pomme frites. Some people don’t like the matchstick fries but I loved these. The sandwich itself reminded me of a monte cristo sans frying. It was grilled ham and gruyere cheese sandwiched between house made brioche bread topped with a fried egg. Pooled around the sandwich was a very rich mornay sauce. This sandwich is of the knife-and-fork variety. I liked the sandwich but found it difficult to eat. The bread was thick and dense and it was tough to manage the perfect bite of all the elements. I found it easier to eat the longer I soaked the bread in the sauce and the runny yolk.

The second entree on the table was the Confit de Canard, duck leg confit with green lentils and root vegetables. I only had a small taste since this wasn’t my entree but it did give me enough of an impression. While I found the skin crispy and tasty the meat below was a little on the dry side. The lentils and root vegetables were especially good having spent some time marinating in the duck au jus.

For dessert we split the Pot de Creme, and I paid $2 extra for the supplemental Bouchons off the Dine L.A. menu. Both dishes arrived nicely arranged. The pot de creme was a little lidded porcelain pot with passion fruit infused custard. Supposedly it had a coconut glaze but that didn’t really taste through for me. I like this just fine. It also came with two vanilla shortbread cookies. Now these I did love. I noticed on my way out they sell them in a 6-pack in the bakery downstairs. The bouchons were small verhona chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. If you’re a big fan of chocolate you’ll enjoy these, especially if you like dark chocolate. The brownies had that dark chocolate bitterness which was soothed away with the creamy vanilla ice cream. I wasn’t a huge fan but I didn’t regret the choice. I guess I’m not really a chocolate person.

So thus concludes my Bouchon adventure. Was it worth a two year wait? Maybe not, but I did have a very good meal and I think that given the right circumstances, like Dine L.A., I will return.

Bouchon Bistro
235 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 271-9910