Yes, I was recently labeled “Gaysian” by an anonymous commenter, but this will not thwart me from proclaiming love for Chef Joseph Mahon – cooking gangster! – and Sommelier Dario Dell’anio at Bastide.

Joseph Mahon, Dario Dell'Anio

A month and a half of soft opening for lunch and book store hours, Bastide’s kitchen cum reading room produced the finest meal of this young 2010.

For those who haven’t been, or who’ve forgotten since they’ve been closed for the Nth time: there are kitschy decors, then there is Bastide’s interior. A vine-lined wall dissolves into tropical rain forest wall paper, which leads into a chic reading room. From there, one may egress to the garden room lined with pebble, and finally a Frenched double wide curved farm house door. The bookstore’s 2 reading rooms both serve as chow spaces during service.

Bastide Bastide Spinach Tart

The few bistro tables in the interior courtyard are granite, and the service pieces cling and clang as the meal progresses… Wait, seriously, let us stop here. Bottom line: the rooms are lovely, and all make you want to watch And God Created Woman film, naked, with a glass of brut.

The new chef, is throwing down mighty bites that is so Cal-French, yet whimsical. Frisee aux lardon? Nay, frisee aux fried f’ing chicken. Spinach Tart? Think creme fraiche of spinach(!) draping puff pastry, with a few hazelnuts and chunks of pancetta thrown in for further texture. Oysters? Topped with ketchup dribbled “freshly” table side. The Andy Warhol Campbell Soup light fixtures seems odd? Wait til you see onion soup with kidney beans and… no cheese.

Bastide Bread and Butter Service

Having observed the rather generous portions served as mains, and wishing to introduce the menu to another eater without breaking into the non-existent college fund, smaller plates, served “DINK” family style, were chosen. Since the red wine risotto as well as the tremendous scallops were sampled last time for lunch, those two dishes were skipped. The server quickly asked for permission to space, and pair, the courses as the kitchen see fit. Suuuuure!

Bastide Grilled Squid


Bastide Beef Shank Onion Soup with Marrow Baguette

Did the chef + server do a fabulous job! First up, grilled squid, shaved fennel, cucumber, drizzled with chorizo’d butter. Lightly composed, but tasty, and not overwhelmed by oils. The squid and veggies were warm and unmarred by char. If you like the grilled octopus at Cube, or the grilled cephalopod at Mozza, you will like Bastide’s octopus. This “course” was paired with the oysters, so we had alternating bites from the sea.

Next up, a shared “not a French” onion soup, braised with beef shanks and some kidney beans. There was no baked cheese, but there was a slice of marrow smeared crisped baguette. Keller might be caramelizing Bouchon’s onions for 7 hours, and I might even dislike kidney beans to a huge extend, but this is a fine balanced bowl of onion soup reeking of beefiness, but not in a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder kind of way. Chose to chew the beef shanks, however, and you might find your jaw becoming sore. The transformation of boring onions into something this magnificent borders alchemic.

Bastide Fried Chicken with some frisee

This meal was finished off with shared frisee salad (with.. uhm.. fried chicken…) and the puffy spinach “tart”. Can we acknowledge the fact that “chicken and frisee” just kills “chicken and waffles”? It’s the carbophobe talking. Perfectly fried chicken, a bit pink inside, juices oozing slowly, not damaging the crunchy tho it was served on bare white ceramics, accompanied the salad. The frisee was lightly seasoned with a creamy buttermilk vinaigrette, and topped with poached egg served broken. Assuming the chicken was dipped in buttermilk, this plate could be renamed: “buttermilk served 2 ways”, or not. And for the Mrs, after the first bite of the bite the spinach tart (seen at the top of the post), she suggested the puff pastry should be marketed and sold as the “Best Crust Ever” at TJ’s. You can put compost on this pastry and it’ll still taste good.

All this, on the first day of dinner service at Bastide. The forever tablemate commented on the perfectly timed pacing, the thoughtful coursing as dictated by the kitchen, and near perfect sizing of all the non-mains for sharing. Adding to all that, the trio of house-baked breads (honey walnut, foccacia reminiscent of Chinese onion rolls, and a sourdough roll), the house churned butter served with a radish (!?), Christofle Hotel silverware stamped with Bastide’s insignia, the attentive, friendly, and not-quite-casual staff, all serve up a fabulous meal.

Dropping the gushy florid prose — I’m loving this place. Driving back down La Cienega, all I can think of is how to make/con/rob more money to eat at Bastide on the regular. Who says money can’t buy [some semblance] of (food) happiness? Restauranteur/director Pytka’s Bently Conti (with the orange rims) can still be seen valeted up front, and he was indeed “in the house” holding court at the Chef’s table, but looking beyond that, there was a meal that turned a crotchey day blissful.

Bastide

8475 Melrose Pl
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 651-5950
Bastide on Urbanspoon

info@bastidela.com

NB: that’s 3 really positive posts in a row. I think that’s enough for Q1 of 2010, and enough to make the haters STFU with the “he hates everything” shenanigans.

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  • Haven’t been to Bastide in any incarnation – but this one looks interesting enough to try, if I can muster the strength to get “dressy” and head out to that part of town.

    and I LOL’d at the gaysian comment, I guess everything was up for debate on LA Weekly. I forgot how we wound up talking about your choco-hole on twitter… OH WELL!
    .-= H.C.´s last blog ..Mini Drinkventure #152: The Surly Goat (West Hollywood) =-.

  • You had me at “grilled cephalopod at Mozza.”
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..Tavern: Please sir, do not pass the butter =-.

  • TonyC

    O Di, you’re so easy.

  • Count me in. I’m excited about a “new” place for the first time in awhile.
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..Fried Chicken at the Momofuku Noodle Bar =-.

  • Is it sad that I want to visit just for the Campbell’s soup can lights?
    .-= weezermonkey´s last blog ..Good Taste on Melrose =-.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting, the hater HATES being hated. Truly Gaysian!

    A very ositive review from someone who seems to know nothing about food, and can’t write. I look forward to other reviewers to write something of substance about this restaurant.

    McDonald’s? More your speed perhaps.You’re just another inexperienced blogger with no real dining experience or knowledge, with only fast food experiences to reference. When are you people(bloggers) going to admit you don’t know what the hell you’re eating or talking about? That would be a modicum of improvement.

    Next time just ask, if you don’t know, you pinhead.Radishes with butter and salt, hmmmm, maybe they’re eaten like that in FRANCE.
    http://www.hastingsfarmersmarket.org/?q=node/6

    Yes, I’m anonymous, get over it.Either way you’re a hack.

  • yay, you really whet my appetite for my Bastide dinner next week! I’m excited for the chinese onion bread, and the fried chicken.
    .-= stuffycheaks´s last blog ..An offally great time at Palate =-.

  • Get up out of your seat. Get up right now and go find a farmers’ market. Buy a bunch of radishes (if they have long, pink-fading-to-white “breakfast” radishes, get those).

    Then go buy the best European butter you can find, and a small tub of fleur de sel (de Camargue, if you can). Cut off the top of a radish and cut a wedge out of the newly-cut top. Press some of the butter into the radish, then sprinkle with the fleur de sel.

    Pop the entire thing in your mouth, and you’ll see why the very French idea of radishes with butter and salt is so wonderful.

    And then go to France. Seriously, go, and not just Paris. Wander the countryside and ask pretty much any French person, from the ouvriers working on a wall in Provence to the cadres in corner offices in Strasbourg, where to eat and where to buy food. It will change your life and improve your writing about restaurants in LA.
    .-= Das Ubergeek´s last blog ..The Wonders of North Hollywood’s La Fiesta Super Mall =-.

  • TonyC

    Thanks Das. Can’t afford that type of trip to France, would love to have my life changed and be turned into a Francophile, knowing proper pronunciation of ouvriers. Did taste the radish and butter with salt.

    Anon: again, thanks for commenting. Of course “we” are all hacks, else we’d all be on egullet/Chowhound. No one reads these things. Why do you? At least I spelled Mahon’s name right this time.

  • Liz

    Gorgeous shots of the interior/exterior. The decription of the onion soup is making my mouth water. Your endorsements of Bastide nouveau & Bar Bouchon are making me want to eat west.

    Thoughts on the hater/s: don’t like a blog, don’t read it. Don’t like bloggers, don’t seek em out. Every blogger has their unique take, food history, niche. I fail to understand people who seek OUT ways to share their disdain. WHATevs.

  • Lien

    You’re the gangster of all hacks — in fact, arguably the only L.A. foodblogger with a personality. God, I get so bored reading the others, but yours — I love as much as fried f’ing chicken sans frisee (hate frisee).

  • amy

    that fried chicken salad looks damn good, yo.

  • YEAH GAYSIAN!!!!!!!!!
    .-= tien.´s last blog ..Dear internet, you’ve won tickets to a free show at the Troubadour tonight! =-.

  • I really enjoyed reading this post. Great material!

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