Am I just wierd (ok, don't answer that) or is it getting harder to find a satisfying place on the Westside? I may have overdosed on disappointments lately and have been going farther afield.
Cafe Beaujolais: was actually visiting a friend who teaches at Occidental College, decided to stay in the area for dinner. Went early to an empty Cafe Beaujolais on Colorado in Eagle Rock. By the time we left it was jammed, with a waiting list.
The place is so reminiscent of the little places I patronized in Paris and Lyon when I lived in France in the 1970s, it was easy to pretend that wasn't Colorado Boulevard outside. Classic posters on the walls, real French antique cupboard, small tables with candles, and a long dark bar.
Very friendly service from a wait staff that consisted entirely of French-speaking young(er) men. Asked the waiter if he had any Burgundys that weren't on the list and he produced 4: chose a 1996 Pommard for $60 - light and elegant - evolved for about 30 minutes before fading.
Classic escargots - ceramic welled plate which bubbled for a full two minutes after delivery. The escargots were nothing special, but dipping up the garlic butter with good bread was. Salad with classic vinaigrette (why is it so hard to reproduce?) and warm goat cheese toasts.
Pork loin with cabernet sauce was competent - the sauce had an attractive caramel quality in addition to the characteristic cabernet acidity. Salmon in puff pastry was a delight - cleaner and less complicated than it sounds; very satisfying pastry crunch and moist, firm fish. Excellent match with the Pinot Noir.
Desserts were fine - simple and satisfying like the rest of the place - ice cream crepes with a light orange sauce (waiter brought complimentary muscat-like dessert wine).
One of the most enjoyable meals I have had recently. It is so refreshing to have a comfortable meal that seems like a real night out with no worry, in contrast to recent experiences at higher end places that seem tense and overly concerned with culinary fireworks (often at the diner's peril), not to mention rushed, loud, and expensive.
Are this place and the Arroyo Chophouse anomalies, or are there other exemplary places on the "northeast side"? The posts on Bistro 45 make me hesitate a little to try it again, though I have been there in the past.