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Escape to Yountville at Bouchon

JimA | Jul 7, 200403:16 AM

Having just read a posting from a visiting chowhound who didn't make lunch at Bochon but just stopped at the bakery, here's what they missed:

After a hectic work week, my partner and I left the fog and escaped over the long weekend to spend a long lunch at Bouchon in Yountville, which has always been worth the drive previously and remains so.

First, their oysters rival any in the City. They had five varieties available from California, Washington and Prince Edward Island. They were very chilled and luxuriated in oyster liquor. I skipped the accompaniments and stuck to just a squeeze of lemon.

For starters we had the brandade beignets with fried sage leaves and sundried tomato, my favorite starter there which I never tire of. Plump little sachets of fried brandade -- kind of reminds me of the taro root dim sum at Yank Sing.

Also tried a peekytoe crab salad, which while compact was artfully spiced with just the right amount of herbs so as not to overpower the crab. Not a huge amount so not for large appetites, but it's a lot work to get that much crabmeat on the plate for the kitchen I'm sure.

For main dishes, we had mussels and frites -- the mussels came in a garlicky saffron broth and a huge amount -- it could have fed two. The generous serving of french fries came in a cone and were perfectly brown and crisp. Again, top rated.

Our other starter was the skate wing which was beautifully browned and served with an olive tapenade on a base of sauteed fennel. Again, very good. All of this washed down with a bottle of very good Condrieu.

For dessert we split a citron tart, made at their bakery next store, which was lighter texture than the usual.

Maybe it was the great space there, the tree-filled windows, or the pace ... but whatever, a well recommended experience. Forget fusion and California cuisine, and imagine yourself in a Paris bistro and that's it.

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