Bonjour from Los Angeles

by Derek Jech

A Culinary Review of Bouchon

Named after the traditional restaurants of Lyon, France, Bouchon in Beverly Hills certainly lives up to its name. While Bouchon has many quintessential characteristics of LA dining, with its tall ceilings, dramatic wood molding, and chic table settings, owner Thomas Keller manages to capture and share the peaceful essence of France without the imminent jet lag.

Beginning my culinary journey to France, I walk up the beautiful staircase to the second-floor dining room and meet my friend. Admittedly, I’m 15 minutes late, but she and the hostess don’t seem to mind, as they politely greet me and within seconds we’re seated at a quaint table for two. Sleek, white cloths drape over each table as they and the dark wooden chairs that surround them compete for attention from the ornate and colorful tile flooring. The aroma of fresh baked bread fills the air and for a moment I forget where I am as I casually dream of my last visit to Paris.

Freshly baked bread is only the beginning to the exceptional French fare we’re presented with. Chef David Hands has certainly outdone himself with his impressive menu of comforting, country cooking. Like a ballet, everything arrives at our table with perfect timing. First, the Petit Plateau, a delicious, fresh, small, but not too small sampling of Fruits De Mer – lobster, oysters, shrimp, clams, and mussels. Due to both of our hurried schedules, my guest and I skip the appetizing salads and instead order main courses and the Macaroni au Gratin to share.

My friend orders the grilled salmon, I order the filet mignon and naturally, we share. The filet mignon is incredibly tender, rare and juicy and the flavor is unreal. The grilled salmon with the quinoa, kale, and roasted sunchokes is light and fresh; I feel less guilty about not ordering a salad. The macaroni and cheese is heavenly; I feel guiltier about not ordering the salad.

With the sweet Crème Brûlée, our meal comes to an end. Satisfied with the exemplary service, beautiful presentation, bright atmosphere, and delightful flavors, we leave, certain to return.