Keynote: sent a dish back, ie, drank the TKool-Aid, but didn’t swallow.
Not everyone was lucky enough to attend Bouchon’s opening party, at which Don “Vice” Johnson held court while Julia Louis-Dreyfus learned to bake bread in the kitchen. For the rest of the mere mortals, your meal might go something like this…
Please remember the portions, even for hors-d’oeuvres are large. The soupe a l’oignon is portioned for TGIFriday, as is the dessert tart. There is no reason why two sane people can not share one single hors d’eouvres, two plats, one dessert, and be satiated. This strategy keeps the bill under $100, pre-vino, and still allows one to walk, instead of roll, to the waiting valet. There is a reason why a late afternoon meal at Bouchon (Yountville) can last well into the sunset, even if only two appetizers and one moule frites are ordered.
First course: French Onion Soup with onions caramelized for 5 hours, Roasted Beets & Pear
These two were just tops. The onion soup had tightly intertwined sweetness (from aforementioned onions caramelized for an agonizing 5 hours) along with saltiness (from cheese, etc.). With the house produced baguette baked in, and some high falutin Comte cheese, this is, with hardly a doubt, some of the most deservingly bombastic onion soup ever consumed by man, at least by an American man. Yes, it was good. But not as good as the marinated beet and poached pear salad to come. The eternal tablemate asked, mid-bite: “how can beets taste like this”? Answer? “Iunno”, “chomp chomp chomp”. There are supposedly black truffles in the vinaigrette, but the typically omnipotent aroma was well masked and well played. Thinking back: that’s how beets taste like ‘this’. And “this” was good.
The confit de canard then came, and was promptly sent back after a bite. A detailed breakdown of Bouchon’s confit de canard prep method is documented here. After the server received profuse apologies, he came back and advised: “salt is rubbed onto the skin”, etc, “would you like to have another”, with the implication that every plate of duck confit would be stuffed with a ball of salt that evening. No thank you, sir. Duck confit doesn’t have to taste like salt cured fowl. This was a total disappointment, as a few days earlier, a splendid rendition of duck confit claimed as “the best duck confit, ever”, was served to us in a random Seattle bistro.
A few summers ago, Bouchon Yountville’s moule frites set the benchmark. The huge bucket of fries, dipped in the saffron jus, was the cause of a 3 hour lunch at the lovely marbled bar, flanked by a fun lesbian couple to the right, and Napa restaurant servers to the left. That particular late afternoon turned into early evening, and every one at the rounded bar left stuffed, happy, yet relaxed. Years later, the little soft mollusks remain fresh on the mind, while everyone, from DBGB to the best of Seattle, served up subpar failures. On November 18th, despite an unkeen environs sans Napa sun, sans oenophile neighbors, Bouchon BevHills delivered huge with the iron boat full of cooked mussels with garlic confit. This time around, I paid attention to every bite and what popped out was the slightly sour garlic confit. Though no vinegar was used in preparation of garlics, one cannot but notice their distinct sourness. This single dish, sharable amongst two, is what beckons every time:
Finally, the Valrhona chocolate bonchon which appeared on the specials blackboard:
Completely forgettable. Subpar ice cream, total snore of a dessert. Too dense, too rich, too much of everything. No subtlety. The choco brownie-cakes killed every nuance in the accompanying double espresso, which, by the way, at $6.50, is the stingiest in all of LA, even when compared to the droplets served by Tavern.
Here’s a small, poorly shot impromptu exit video:
Good times on opening night? Yes. Great food on opening night? There will always be Yountville. In LA, let us instead give props and support to Church & State, a cooking chef’s restaurant.
Beverly Hills, CA