Had a wonderful experience at Bouchee in Carmel - on Mission near Ocean. Charming room - I can only describe it as "modern French bistro" - not too cluttered, warm colors, and unusual oval glass service plates - a very pleasant and pretty setting.
The menu is not enormous, but it seems they take pride in what they serve, and use local produce/products. We were served fresh, hot delicious rolls, followed by an amuse gueule (sp?) of halibut ballotin in fennel sauce with a drizzle of saffron oil. Very, very good, and just rich enough to whet the appetite. My son's appetizer was an heirloom tomato soup that was served with a large crouton spread w/goat cheese. Perfectly sweet and tart, contrasting with the tangy cheese. I chose two appetizers for dinner. The first was the Hudson Valley foie gras, served on shredded savoy cabbage with quince dice. This was absolutely heavenly - buttery foie gras that melted in the mouth alongside the slightly sweet cabbage and quince. Son had the duck for dinner - a huge portion, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented accompanied by port glazed mission figs. Duck doesn't get much better than this. I followed with a chantrelle risotto, which was just creamy and buttery enough without being overpowering - the delicacy of the chantrelles shone through as the predominant flavor. I chose a split of Justin Vineyards 2000 cabernet, which I thought complemented the meal. The markup on the wines didn't seem bad, although I'm no expert. Coffee was good - but we were too full to try dessert.
Service was exemplary - and always with a smile. Our dinner, with the wine, was about $80, before tip. This was one of the best dining experiences I've had in Carmel - I highly recommend it.
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