Bouchon is located in an elegant part of Beverly Hills, just north of Wilshire Boulevard.
I was joined by a close friend and fellow Farm Shop alumnus. A Kansas City native, porcine advocate, and Bel Air private chef that knows her stuff.
We elected to sit on the patio, as the dining room was nearly empty (though it was rather early). After a slightly delayed greeting we were given a lovely epi. This tasted very fresh, but was devastatingly not warm, verging on chilled.
As someone who works in wine, I have an aversion to people that immediately begin suggesting glasses of things that they like on the By the Glass menu.
I always make it a point to try to find out what type of wine the guest might be in the mood for, rather than suggesting an oaky, $16 a glass of sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley right off the bat. What if I was mormon and I didn’t drink? Though i’ve never met a brown mormon, i’m sure they do exist, after all, this is L.A.
We elected to go with a Muscadet Sévre et Maine, Pierre Henri Gadais, Loire Saint-Fiacre ’11 which started off briney, tight, and crisp though I wasn’t crazy for it by the end of the bottle.
We picked out some starters in radishes with butter, chicken liver mousse, and a salad. The english breakfast radishes were divine, crisp, and had a perfectly smooth butter to accompany them with just a hint of sea salt. Precision.
The best dish of the entire lunch was the chicken liver mousse, which was like chocolate pudding smooth, covered in a layer of smooth fat laced with thyme and sea salt. Textbook.
The Salade de Cresson et d’Endives au Roquefort, Pommes et aux Noix (endive, roquefort, apples, and walnuts) was plated beautifully and had a classic delightful flavor. The roquefort worked well with the bitter endive and sweet apples. The color of this dish was also very appealing.
The Bouillabaisse special was utterly paltry for $38 dollars. I found the broth far to thin and restrained, as well as the vegetables and seafood particularly sparse. This was more like a scampi than a bouillabaisse.
The Gnocchi with Pork Belly Special (which I spied on the chalkboard, but wasn’t told about) just did not come together for me. The elements of the dish were sound, but they didn’t seem to join together cohesively. Almost as if one was eating bites of several different dishes rather than one.
I was left with mixed feelings about Bouchon, the service wasn’t that amazing and I wasn’t wowed by the main courses. Ironically enough, when I was mentioning that I recently dined there, a bartender friend of mine said without hesitation, “the appetizers are amazing but he main courses aren’t anything special.” This is pretty much exactly how I felt.
In retrospect, the bustling Bouchon Bistro downstairs seemed like a much more engaging scene than the rather sparsely populated lunch we experienced on at Bouchon.