Just had dinner at Bouchon in Yountville Tuesday night. I have to say I wasn't blown away, maybe I was expecting too much?
I had the compressed melon salad with bibb lettuce, house-cured ham and goat-cheese mousse. The melon (with a touch of pepper) was excellent with the ham. But the lettuce and mousse reminded me of a simple salad with a buttermilk ranch dressing...a bit too salty for my tastes I guess. My wife had the heirloom tomato salad with fig and toasted hazelnuts. She liked it, but the portion was quite large - I think she would have preferred a smaller portion more artfully arranged.
For our main course I had sirloin medallions, with sauteed greens and a square of potato (their terminology escapes me) - served with sauce bearnaise on the side. The steak was excellent, tender and flavorful, the greens were good, not overcooked but nothing earth-shattering either, and the potato reminded me of a well-cooked hash brown. I forgot about the sauce until about halfway through the dish, so my impression of the potato improved slightly after a small pour from the serving dish.
My wife had the gnocchi a la Parisienne. Small "gnocchi" made of puff-pastry served with garden vegetables in a brown butter sauce. She enjoyed the textural contrast of the crisp gnocchi exterior to the moist interior which paired well with the perfectly cooked vegetables - but the brown butter sauce seemed a bit lacking, it didn't have the nuttiness one normally associates with this type of sauce.
Dessert for me was the Tarte au Citron - a real disappointment. The crust was bland and had a texture similar to sawdust, while the filling had a sharp one-dimensional citrus bite without any hint of creaminess or richness. My wife had the Bouchons, an off-menu dessert consisting of three small brownie-like rounds topped with strawberry ice cream and garnished with strawberries simmered in port as well as cocoa nibs. Although not revolutionary this was a executed quite well. The ice cream was excellent, tasting of fresh strawberries and pairing nicely with the slight bitterness of the cocoa nibs. The brownies were moist and flavorful and the strawberry garnish was delicious.
I think my biggest let down was the over-all atmosphere of the restaurant. Looking over the michelin star criteria for a one star restaurant I see no mention of anything atmosphere related, so perhaps I'm being too harsh. But I really felt that we should see something a little more polished. The restaurant was full of people in extremely casual dress (shorts were everywhere, some with t-shirts). The Bouchon cookbook was displayed prominently as one walked in the door, right above a table containing a loud parking validation machine, and the service was just a bit erratic for my tastes.
Over-all it was a good meal, but not quite what I expected compared to some of the other one-star restaurants in the bay area.
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