My wife and I went to Bastide last week for our wedding anniversary. In a nutshell, we were impressed beyond expectation in almost every aspect of our dinner. I should, however, disclaim that we indirectly know one of the chefs, and thus, our experience MAY be different than others due to our one time hand-shake and introduction with one of the chefs. (He was aware we were coming that evening). To orient you with my other personal favorite restaurants in LA- La Cachette, Citrine, Aubergine, Angelini Osteria, L'Orangerie and Fatburger :)
Since we went during the week, we were able to make a reservation for 7:30 pm. We were greeted cordially by the Maitre'D and asked our preference for indoor vs. outdoor seating. We were seated in the front dining room, which would hold approx 14-18 people. The room was decorated in neutral colors with soft incandescent lighting.
We were greeted by our waiter and asked if we wanted to start with a cocktail and/or water. We told him we would either be doing the wine pairings or choose a bottle of wine, so he appropriately asked if we wanted the wine list before or after the dinner menus. I opted to look at the dinner menu first and after a lot of difficutly on passing on the white asparagus menu, we chose the chef's menu. The waiter asked about any dietary restrictions, and since my wife doesn't like foie gras, this was noted. (As was my insatiable appetite for fattened goose liver)
After looking at the extensive wine list, I narrowed it down to two to three potential wines and then asked how the wine pairings would be made. He said that it would be slightly difficult since he wasn't sure exactly what food would be coming out, but gave us the option of having him choose our wine tastings. I felt, perhaps that this could be improved upon as even chef's menus are somewhat planned and any changes could be relayed to the sommelier. I, thus, decided on buying a single bottle.
The first course was the amuse bouche - a tall shot glass filled with a cucumber gelatin which held two heirloom tomatos and topped with a citrus flavored oil-vinegar dressing. This was quite refreshing, and left a satisfying finish on the tongue.
The second course was halibut belly sashimi with a soy-based dressing, a strip of avocado mousse, and a Santa Barbara prawn. I had the sashimi by itself, and it was quite delightful. The prawn and the avocado mousse made an excellent combination and the richness from the avocado mousse complemented the texture of the prawn nicely.
My wife and I were served different 3rd courses. Since I let it be known that I love foie gras, a foie gras terrine was presented, with brioche toast and a gooseberry gelatin. Although I have not really raved about terrines, this was very smooth and went amazingly well with the gooseberry gelatin and the brioche toast. Unfortunately, I did not taste my wife's 3rd course, but was a lobster dish served with a white cream sauce.
The fourth course was loup de mer, broiled and for the life of me, I can't remember the side. This was one of the highlights of the night. It was cooked perfectly, and not a tad overdone.
Then came a grapefruit sorbet in a vermouth served in tall thin flute. A nice, refreshing break before the meat courses.
The fifth course was whole squab served with a cherry reduction. The other portion of the course was a squash blossom that was stuffed with pressed chicken, and served on creamed corn. Although the chicken was a not overtly flavored, coupled with the creamed corn it was sublime. The squab was excellent, and I was fortunate to have half of my wife's, since she was somewhat turned off by seeing the foot (and is not crazy for wild fowl).
The sixth course was a bone-in veal chop cut/served table side with a beef stock reduction. The creamed spinach side was slightly too buttery for me, but I can see how many people would still enjoy it.
The veal was served perfectly medium-rare and unbelievable.
The next course was the cheese cart. Probably one of my favorite courses of the night. After wheeling the cart tableside, the waiter described each cheese (aprox. 15) and asked which ones we would like to try. My wife chose 8 and I chose 6 different cheeses. The portions were ample and served with our choice of prunes, dried apricots and walnut halves. It was also served with 2 thin slices of raisin bread. They had an excellent selection and a wide variety of styles, textures, spice and finish. I am still raving about the cheese course to my friends.
Next was the dessert course. My wife was served a vacherine dessert that consisted of several vacherine cones placed on top of a lavender ice cream and served with strawberries and a strawberry sauce. The lavender ice cream was unexpectedly nice on the palate and very refreshing. I was served a "chocolate soup" which was poured tableside and into a bowl that contained two long, thin pastries. Although both desserts were aesthetically pleasing to the eye, they lacked the punch that I like to have with my dessert. Possibly, the only part of the dinner that could be improved. It's not that the desserts were not good, just not to the level that the rest of the dinner set.
Finally we were served petit fours prior to our bill.
In the service aspect, everything was excellent. From the Maitre'D and waiter periodically checking on our dinner, to the attentive secondary wait staff, we never had to ask for anything. When our bottled water was finished, the waiter politely asked if I would like ice water to finish the night. The waiters were very attuned to the menu and the descriptions of our courses were well orated. We never felt pressured into anything, and the wait staff was very polished and eloquent. At the same time, I did not feel that the service was pretentious or too stuffy. I felt right at home there and definitely not out of place.
The pace of the dinner was unhurried. I think I make the disntinction between slow service and unhurried service on the basis that the timing of our courses were spread out equally, and did not feel we had to wait for an unreasonable amount of time for our next course. It was quite enjoyable to have the time to talk to my wife, enjoy the evening, and talk about the course we just finished. If this style and tempo doesn't fit your preferences, then you may perceive this as the service being slow.
A few final notes: Again, our relationship with the chef (Not Alain Giraud, as he is not there anymore), may have given us better service, different courses on the chef's menu and possibly more choices with the cheese course. Do keep in mind that I am in no way related to the restaurant business, and definitely not planning on it. Secondly, this does not come without the price tag. For two, the bill nearly reached $500 after wine, tax, and a well-deserved 20% tip. Many people will find this not worth the money, and I cna understand that. Based on our experience, it was worth the price tag. Finally, with the chef change, there apparently will be a change in the style of menu, and our 4 hour gastronomical escapade may not be possible in the future.
Take this for what it's worth - my ONE experience at this restaurant, and undoubtedly not my last. Comments or other experiences are greatly appreciated.
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