The lovely thing is that seafood platters are ubiquitous. I've slurped raw clams and oysters at Hungry Cat, Comme Ca and Anisette. But for my birthday I wanted to go to Bouchon.
This is because after the KCRW event at the Paley Center, we were just down the street so Sarah, Lauren, Lindsay and I repaired to Bouchon for a cocktail and I was just won over, swept away and utterly enthused about Bouchon in a way that I didn't think I would be because I prefer our locals and we've got homegrown bistros here in LA, so who does this Thomas Keller think he is pussyfooting his way into our town like he owns the joint and exporting his lame chain restaurant up in here? Well, I guess I swallowed my words along with a piece of the most perfectly wonderful and crusty bread I've ever had in my life. Good bread will do that to you.
The courtyard between Bouchon and Montage Beverly Hills.
Like a pot of fire blossoms. Beautiful color.
The dining room is hideous from the globe lights to the carpet to the chairs. Hideous.
The bar is magnificent. Pewter and zinc and rimmed with seafood. Lovely. This is where the cool people congregate.
To drink and nosh. And dish.
The cocktails we had tasted like turpentine though but that's probably a personal preference thing. Everything else I just loved. Madly and unreservedly. From the sparkling white wine to the shiny sea oysters to the peanut butter ice cream but most of all the butter and the bread and the magazine rack by the bar where you can read Allure or a newspaper. I also loved the old gentleman supping by himself at the bar on a plate of roast chicken and a cone of golden french fries. Yes, it was then I knew. For my birthday, I wanted to spend it at Bouchon at the bar with some bread and butter, oysters, white wine and ice cream. So, that's what we did.
When we arrived around 8:30 p.m. without reservations because we're Bourdainish like that, the dining room was full as was the bar but there was ample seating outdoors. During summer, that outdoor area overlooking the courtyard is going to be a fabulous place to have a drink and a gossipy chit chat but not so much during winter. WIthin 20 minutes, there both the bar and the dining room opened up and you know where we headed.
The tile by the bar is a beautiful thing. It feels Spanish or Moroccan more than French. But what do I know? It could be from Paris itself.
This could be the ad for the ibar.
This gent was shucking oysters by himself which I think is a definite problem. His towel, which I didn't take a photo of, was shocking. Covered in shell bits and disturbingly brown. The restaurant was packed and almost everyone had some oysters or a seafood platter. I don't know if he was seriously the only shucker on duty but two of my oysters had broken shell fragments in their waters and a few had grit which is not right. And it's certainly not his fault if he's the only one shucking oysters for an entire restaurant. Let's call for backup on this situation. It's not the end of the world but it's never happened to me at Anisette. Never. And Anisette does have the best seafood platter I've had to date. Yes, it does. Westsiiiide!!!
But I don't mean to complain. It was a lovely seafood platter and I enjoyed it tremendously. The oysters were all from the East Coast and they were on the salty side for sure but they tasted fresh and lovely.
We also ordered some kumamotos as I enjoyed them so much during my first visit to Bouchon.
My claw made me very happy. I defy anyone to be sad when they have a lobster claw sitting in front of them waiting to be eaten. It's impossible. And yes, you should play with the claw and try to make it pinch your friend's clothes or nose or ears if at all possible. I forgot to do that. Next time America.
Ahh the good stuff. The birthday claw meat. So sweet and meaty. We had a bottle of muscadet which went really well with the oysters. A wonderful pairing.
This bread is heaven sent. I ate three leaves from this little branch here. The butter is divine as well. Perfection. I kiss the sky with my buttery lips.
Around 9:30 or so a guy came in took a seat at the bar and ordered a dish of greens with garlic and he just ate that with 3 pieces of bread and a glass of wine. What a clever chap. I may have to copy him. What a cheap and utterly delicious meal he had.
We decided to split a steak frites cooked rare.
These fries. My fellow Americans, these are the best fries you will ever have in a sit down restaurant. We all know the benchmark is set by McDonalds. If you dispute that, let's meet for a discussion with two broken wine bottles in a dark alley somewhere you ignoramus you provoker of unnecessary controversy you donkey's ass you. Well, these fries are very close to that gold(en arches) standard. They are saltier than a salt lick, crispier than goose fat cooked potatoes, piping hot and suspiciously savory. I ate them and I ate them and I ate them to the extent I could barely eat any of the steak which was sound but you know I'm no red meat lover.
For dessert, we had the profiteroles. The dark chocolate, the ice cream, the pastry somehow it didn't blow me away but I liked it.
But because it was my birthday we ordered two desserts. The peanut butter ice cream is a dream come true. It's salty and rich and so peanut buttery that it rivals Mashti Malone's peanut butter ice cream and that thing will block your artery after one lick so you know I'm not fooling around son.
To paraphrase Lou Reed "It's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you": It was a beautiful birthday. I'm glad I spent it at Bouchon.