Was taken to Le Bouchon on Sat. for dinner. Was there with the same dining partner who escorted me there for Valentine's Day, in fact.
We started with a special of oysters florentine ($8.95) - four large oysters sitting in their shells and perched on top of tender spinach with a cheesy bechamel sauce all around that had been slightly browned on top; and also an order of escargot ($7.95) 6 yummy slugs swimming in their own little compartments of butter and garlic and parsley. These were both very yummy things, but the oyster special was fabulous in every way - taste, texture, preparation...the bonus was that the oyster shells were anchored to the plate with mashed potatoes. ;o)
We shared two entrees, the steak ($21.95)and a special of stuffed quail ($19.95). Both entrees were very good - the steak came rare as ordered with a tasty onion sauce on the side; the quail was stuffed with a rice and sausage stuffing and was in a delicious port sauce. I didn't care for the square of potato gratin and the veggie juilenne (turnip, green been, carrot, zucchini, etc.) was not overcooked and was OK. The steak was a good value (but not as good as Basta's for the same price, IMO), the quail was very small and even though it was very good, an addition of something else on the plate could have added more value.
It bears mention that the two of us wanted to share our meals that night, and that meant both of us did not order our first choices - they were both specials (both $19.95 - as all the specials were): lamb shank in Bourgogne sauce and the bouillabaisse (I hate lamb, she's allergic to scallops...). The lamb shank special looked amazing, even to me, a non-lamb lover. The bouillabaisse also looked great with lots of fish and seafood poking out of the bowl.
Dessert was creme brulee ($6.95) and amaretto cheesecake ($5.95) - both were very, very good. The cheesecake was a very large piece and was crustless and very creamy. The creme brulee was just about perfect. The coffee was very good, too.
I had a couple of glasses of champagne, she had a couple of kir royales. Corkage is still $20 there, btw. Didn't really peruse the winelist much, sorry I can't report on it.
The service was very good. Our server was heavily accented and friendly and did a good job. Our water glasses were refilled, drinks came soon after they were ordered, plates were cleared when necessary, more bread was brought for the appetizers so we could sop up the yumminess, I was asked about a coffee refill - she did everything right and without 'tude (and I was looking for it, you can be sure! ;o) - in fact, with a smile on her face, even though the place was really busy by 6:30.
So, I would go back and I think I would try to stick to the specials (but also get the escargot- mmmm...snails) and I would definitely share a dessert. I think that this place is a pretty good value for the quality and presentation of the food. The seats are uncomfortable, but hey, they are in many PDX restaurants. The lunch menu looks good and is an even better value... (They do not serve foie gras there, btw.)
If I had to pick between Carafe and Le Bouchon, I think it would have to be Carafe for comfort/atmosphere, free valet parking, regular menu...but LeBouchon's specials and overall value should keep it on your list, especially if you want French in the Pearl.