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Restaurants & Bars 5

Bouchon Bistro Beverly Hills, opening night observations

TonyC | Nov 19, 200902:14 AM

To all, please remember the portions, even for hors-d’oeuvres, are large. The soupe a l’oignon is portioned for TGIFriday, as is the dessert tarts. There is no reason why two sane people can not share one hors d’eouvres, two plats, one dessert, (or variations thereof) , and be satiated. This strategy keeps the bill under $100, pre-vino, and still allows one to walk, instead of roll, to the waiting valet.

First: onion soup with onions caramelized for 5 hours, roasted beets & poached pear salad
These were just tops. The onion soup had tightly intertwined sweetness (from aforementioned onions caramelized for an agonizing 5 hours) along with saltiness (from cheese, etc.). With the house produced baguette baked in, and some high falutin Comte cheese, this is, with hardly a doubt, one of the most deservingly bombastic onion soup ever consumed by man, at least by an American man. Yes, it was good, but not as good as the marinated beet and poached pear salad to come. The eternal tablemate asked, mid-bite: “how can beets taste like this”? Answer? “Iunno”, “chomp chomp chomp”. There are supposedly black truffles in the vinaigrette, but the typically omnipotent aroma was well masked and well played. Thinking back: that’s how beets taste like ‘this’. And “this” was good.

The confit de canard then came, and was promptly sent back after a bite. After receiving profuse apologies from me, the server visited the kitchen, and advised: “salt is rubbed onto the skin”, etc, “would you like to have another”, with the implication that every serving of duck confit would be stuffed with a ball of salt. No thank you, sir. Duck confit doesn’t have to taste like salt cured fowl. This was a total disappointment, as a few days earlier, a splendid rendition of duck confit claimed as “the best duck confit, ever”, was served to us in a random Seattle bistro.

A few summers ago, Bouchon Yountville’s moule frites set the benchmark. Years later, the little soft mollusks remain fresh on the mind. On November 18th, despite an unkeen environs sans Napa sun, sans oenophile neighbors, Bouchon BevHills delivered huge with the iron boat full of cooked mussels and garlic confit. This time around, I paid attention to every bite and what popped out was the slightly sour garlic confit. Though no vinegar was used in preparation of garlics, one cannot but notice their distinct sourness . This single dish, sharable amongst two, is what beckons every time.

Finally, the Valrhona chocolate bonchon which appeared on the specials blackboard:
completely forgettable. Subpar ice cream, total snore of a dessert. Too dense, too rich, too much of everything. Zero subtlety. The choco brownie-cakes killed every nuance in the accompanying double espresso, which, by the way, at $6.50, is the stingiest in all of LA, even when compared to the droplets served by Tavern.

Good times on opening night? Yes. Great food on opening night? There will always be Yountville. In LA, let us instead give props and support to Church & State, a cooking chef’s restaurant.

The rest of pix: http://bit.ly/zKXUI

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