Tucked away in the NoHo Arts District is an unexpected find; a fine French dining experience minus the stuffy atmosphere and high prices found elsewhere in LA.
Open since mid-March 2005, Maximilians is a little gem in the Valley just north of Magnolia at the corner of Tujunga and Weddington. Chef Marc Boussarie delivers a selection of authentic French Bistro fare with a light touch.
Outside is a sweet, canopied courtyard. Inside are two gently lit rooms with a French-country motif and polished woods. White-clothed tables set the mood for relaxed, refined dining. Meals begin with warm slices of crusty baguette and herb-laced butters. The entire menu has plenty of tantalizing options to draw you back again and again. Available on the weekend, the specials are worth sampling.
A standard option is the French Onion Soup, dressed with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and buttered croutons. I opted for the soup du jour ($6.50); a delicious puree of cauliflower and carrot with tiny pieces of vegetables adding a little texture. This soup was divine and so like a bisque that I had to be convinced there was no cream present. A quick word on the stunning presentation. My deep soup bowl arrived with the vegetables in the bottom. Our server followed by dramatically pouring a jug of steaming broth into my bowl. Impressive theatrics! Best of all, this soup doesnt overwhelm the palate nor the stomach. Boussarie proves he is an artist when it comes to soup. He clearly relishes his work.
My companion devoured the Dungeness crab salad with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette. Typical of French chefs, the salad was a little too salty for my taste, but that aspect was off-set by the segments of pink grapefruit and soothing avocado with delicate threads of crab and snow pea tendrils distributed throughout.
My entree was a buttery, pan-fried filet of John Dory, which is thin and lightly-flavored; a little like sole or sand dab. Here its served with melted leeks, cabbage and artichokes and napped with a foamy foie-gras nage (sauce).
I urged my companion to sample the Columbia River Sturgeon. It was pan-seared and served with roasted cabocha squash puree, a cauliflower and chanterelles relish and drizzled with a syrah reduction sauce. Sturgeon is a dense fish, though not as firm as halibut and not as flaky as sea bass. This dish, with its earthy autumnal flavors of squash and mushrooms, is perfect for this time of year.
Other popular entrees from the open kitchen include the Filet Mignon ($28.50), the Organic Crispy Roasted Chicken ($18.50) served with eggplant mousseline and also the fabulous-sounding Bouillabaisse ($21). This classic fish stew, served with garlic croutons and a rich, mayonnaise-y rouille, surely will be worth returning to try.
Wine was elegantly served in their own tiny carafes. We sampled a couple by the glass and found them complex enough to delight.
Desserts are made daily and provide the perfect conclusion to a superb meal. A dreamy panna cotta was paired with oven-roasted strawberries and strawberry sauce. The special was a chocolate cake layered with piped cream and topped with crunchy, caramel-covered banana slivers. It was served with sticky, prune-like cherries in a reduced sauce.
Maximilians is the ideal choice for an exquisite lunch or dinner. Their devoted cuisine is high quality and satisfying, without burning a hole in your wallet.
Final comment what a great name for a restaurant!
11330 Weddington St.
North Hollywood CA 91601
Lunch 11.30am 2.30pm; Dinner 5.30pm 10pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Please note this review was also published in the Studio City and Sherman Oaks Sun newspapers under my (real) name.
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