Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro

A few years ago while exploring Napa Valley, I visited Thomas Keller’s Michelin star awarded Bouchon Bistro in Yountville for lunch. The menu featured Keller’s roasted chicken, regarded by some as the best in the world. I still remember how I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy skin and moist meat paired with a glass of dry rose’ wine.
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Recently, I wanted to compare Keller’s chicken from the Yountville Bistro with his roasted chicken at Bouchon Beverly Hills. Located along the Beverly Canon Gardens and across from the Montage Beverly Hills, it’s a larger, more formal venue than his wine country restaurant. As my husband, daughter and I walked up the stairs to the large reception room, the hostess greeted and escorted us past the oval shaped pewter bar into the main dining room. Designed by Adam D. Tihany almost 10 years ago, the formal dining room’s classic features include high ceilings, colorful mosaic flooring, hand painted murals and antique lighting. Since it was a beautiful summer evening, we requested to sit at a table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the gardens and hotel.

Our waiter Claude, a consummate professional, has been at Bouchon Beverly Hills since the day it opened in 2009. “There are still five of us,” he said as he told us about the les plats du jour and the daily oyster selection from the raw bar.

Similar to the Napa location, a server arrives with a braid of warm crispy French bread perfectly accented with hints of sea salt. The bread’s soft air pockets offer perfect crevices to fill with French butter.IMG_4578

The menu features numerous hors d’ oeuvres. We chose the Oeufs Mimosa (deviled eggs) to start. The plate includes four delicate eggs with bright yellow creamy peaks topped with sprinkles of paprika, sliced chives and fried capers. I loved the crunch of the capers and thought the frying added a delicious nutty essence to the dish.

IMG_4579Next we ordered the confit de canard appetizer that was large enough for an entree. The beautifully cooked duck thigh and leg were crispy on the outside and tender inside and rested in a country-style stew of pearl barely mixed with sweet and soft carrots, al dente fava beans, beech mushrooms and a duck jus broth. I’m glad we still had some French bread to soak up the jus at the bottom of the bowl. I would definitely order this dish again.

As we looked over the menu to select entrees, we chose between a multitude of classic French dishes that included steak frites, roast leg of lamb, Loup de Mer, trout Amandine and mussels steamed in white wine.IMG_4583

Since the duck was larger than I had anticipated, I ordered one of the salads, an endive with watercress. When it arrived, it was sprinkled with small pieces of Roquefort cheese. This colorful salad was stacked with pale yellow and purple endive leaves, mixed with bright green watercress and half walnuts peeking in-between. I wish there were a few more Roquefort pieces, but the walnut vinaigrette glaze was light and full of earthy flavor.

IMG_4586Our daughter enjoyed the Le Burger Bouchon that arrived with a generous handful of crispy frites. She exclaimed, “Look how juicy this burger is Mom!” The grilled prime beef patty arrived open face with a large beefsteak tomato slice on top. With a choice of cheese to enhance the burger, she selected a Bleu cheese that had melted nicely on the beef patty. Crisp Bibb lettuce rested between the patty and pain au lait bun. The bun is not as rich as a brioche, yet a tad sweeter, made with honey, milk, and butter. The house pickle isn’t a typical dill spear, it’s slightly sweeter, similar to a cross between a dill and gherkin pickle.

IMG_4584My husband ordered Keller’s famous chicken served on petits pois a la Francaise (peas) cooked with bacon lardons and simmered in chicken jus. This is another dish to definitely save a piece of bread to soak up the jus at the end. It was as good as the chicken I remembered enjoying at Keller’s Yountville Bouchon.

Also in Yountville, Keller has Ad Hoc, which is known for his signature buttermilk fried chicken on the menu. To appease his Southern California fans, Bouchon Beverly Hills makes Keller’s crispy fried chicken every Monday. Sometimes Keller himself fries the chicken in the kitchen when he visits.

In addition to a comprehensive wine list and array of hand-crafted cocktails, Bouchon presents a unique “Vin de Carafe” program that highlights one-of-a-kind wines from some of California’s top wine producers.

IMG_4594We saved room for the strawberry rhubarb Mille Feuille made with flakey puffed pastry, and layered with vanilla diplomat creme, and a large teardrop of rhubarb compote next to a large scoop of fresh strawberry ice cream. It was heavenly and inspired us to walk down the stairs and visit Bouchon Bakery to buy some of the ethereal and flakey pastries to bring home to enjoy the following morning for breakfast.

During dineL.A. Restaurant Week from July 14-28 Bouchon Beverly Hills offer a lunch menu for $25 and a $49 dinner menu. $$ 235 N. Canon Drive (310)271-9910.

This was published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on July 13, 2017.

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