Thomas Keller…if loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna’ be right. Folks, look at the photo above of Bouchon Bistro’s Croque Madame ($18.95). Pure French goodness all on one plate. Grilled ham and cheese on brioche topped with a Mornay sauce AND a perfectly, fried egg, partnered with crispy French fries. At the time it seemed so, so wrong, but it tasted so right.
I have been a fan of Chef Thomas Keller’s for a long time, a chef groupie if you will. I own many of his cookbooks and have been regaled by friends of their experience at his iconic restaurant in Napa Valley called The French Laundry. Bouchon serves classic bistro fare, but really, they elevate it to a higher level. The restaurant itself is a rather grand space, very open with high ceilings and classic French decor, yet it felt very comfortable and casual to me. Before you enter the restaurant on the second level, there is a wine bistro and a take-out bakery on the first level.
My accomplice on this calorie consuming extravaganza is my friend Gail who shares my zest and zeal for dining adventures. Our plan was to share all our dishes to maximize how many different things we could taste. The strategy was soup, salad, sandwich and dessert.
Their soup special that day was a Potato Leek soup ($9). The soup was light and the flavors were subtle, so we had plenty of room left for their heartier dishes.
Their frisee salad with lardons, and poached egg with a bacon vinaigrette ($14) is my new favorite salad ever, it’s almost like a deconstructed BLT. I think the secret weapon here was the vinaigrette, which could make paper taste delicious. The toasted brioche was perfect for scooping every last bit of salad up.
As for dessert, we felt the only right thing to do was to have something chocolate, and a wise choice it was. The dark chocolate mousse with burnt orange cream ($10) for me was shear perfection. The mousse had rich chocolate flavor, but was not overly sweet and when you dipped it into the orange cream…well, you’ve just gotta try it yourself.
I would certainly go back to Bouchon again. For a short while I felt transported far across the ocean to a traditional bistro in the heart of Paris, even though I was just a block off of Wilshire Boulevard. The service was impeccable, and I loved the servers black vests and bow ties…so European. And, in a land where parking is at a premium, there is a lot right next door with 2 hour free parking. Lovely.
Bouchon Bistro – 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (310) 271-9910