Need some help people. My friend and I are somewhat fanatical about this, although we haven't joined the Brotherhood of Cassoulet (yes it's real) and we play Switzerland when it comes to the eternal feud between Toulouse and Castlenaudry. Heck, I'm not even finicky when it comes to the Duck v. Goose arguments. However, I need to find the best one in the Bay Area to settle the cravings.
Here's my take on the one's I've tried or heard about.
Bistro Jeanty/Jeanty @ Jack's - good to excellent. When not rushed, the original Yountville outpost quiets the Cassoulet demons quite nicely, especially if you can score the table by the fireplace.
Le Charm (when it's on the menu) - good but fairly one dimensional, sort of like duck confit over white beans.
Albion River Inn - excellent, outside of Provence, I can't think of a better offering. (seasonal and sadly far far away)
Bay Wolf (when they're showcasing the Castelnaudry, i.e. not that often) - good but not as flavorful as the ingredients should produce.
Absinthe - used to be fantastic, then they raised the price and lowered the quality. At last check, it's not on the menu.
Paragon SF - terrible, not even close, crime to call it Cassoulet
Le Zinc - not so good, very salty and tasted rushed. White beans were quite bland and the entire dish was plated and not served en cassole. Appeared to be blasted under the broiler at the last moment.
Rockridge Cafe - "Acadian Cassoulet" not the same, okay as a stew/soup, but not real cassoulet.
Chapeau (wasn't on the menu last time I was there) - haven't heard that much, but the restaurant is otherwise one of my favorites.
Bouchon - must be at least seasonally offered, unless
Bistro Jeanty has intimidated them into passing on an attempt.
Bistro Aix - anyone know if they've got this one the menu?
Cafe Rouge - they have to have attempted this, I mean heck they make and sell some very nice duck confit
Yes, I am aware that this whole topic now appears somewhat neurotic (even my friend from Lyon is at a loss for my obsession with this dish). I am also aware of the excellent Cassoulet en conserve available from France. However, it is obscenely expensive to ship glass jars or tins over to the US. So, where does that leave me? Still searching for the ultimate Cassoulet...always searching.
Can you help a fella out?
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