Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pirate Booty at Bouchon

When I think celebration, my thoughts turn, like the tide itself, to ocean creatures, cream colored oysters on the half barnacled shell, an obscene amputated crustacean claw redder than a Le Creuset or an origami shaped Lamborghini, raw peach flavored clams and firm pink tigerstriped shrimp, all of it sitting on ice like a display of jewels for me to reach out and take for myself. I think of this as pirate booty. And when it's my birthday, that's what I would like to eat more than any other food in the world.

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.
flowers in pot
Like a pot of fire blossoms. Beautiful color.
dining room
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.
spread overhead

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.

tile floor
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.
bar dark
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.
bread tree
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.

steak frites
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.

Bouchon Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. so... was Thomas Keller there? hahahahaha

  2. Yummy. I've still not been to the Beverly Hills location, but Vegas has yet to let me down.

  3. what a lovely lovely meal for your bday, minus the shell bits. i agree, bouchon fries are bomb diggity!

  4. I'm thinking you + me + bread + fries + garlicky greens + peanut butter ice cream. And wine.

  5. You make a very convincing case for Bouchon! Definitely the most positive review I've read thus far.

    Don't you think Rush Street makes better fries than Ronald McDonald? I'll be seeing you in a dark alley, punk!

  6. Austin: No Senor Keller was not en la casa ce soir. I looked in the kitchen and everything. I think they're working on cloning him though so every restaurant can have a Keller to sign autographs and take fotos with.

    Weezer: Vegas baby Vegas. I've been to Vegas 2x since I was 18 years old. It's been 100 yrs since I've been 18 so that tells you how often I've been but I gotta go for a foodie trip one day.

    Bags: It was lovely. Bomb diggity is right. We won't be meeting in a dark alley Amy!

    Diana: I'm thinking you're some kind of mind reader. I'm thinking we can get out of there for like $20 each that's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking we become regulars and they'll be like oh there's Diana and yutjangsah and they start churning the peanut butter ice cream. Yah. I like it.

    Gassy: I've not read any other reviews except for kevineats which I skimmed and it seemed to be measured praise. Those freaking truffle oil fries at Rush Street are pretty dang delicious. I will concede you have a powerful point there but but but they gave me the bad greasies afterwards which a truly excellent austere fry should never do. never. Let's meet at 56th street and alameda next wed. I'll bring the broken bottles.hehee

  7. Thanks a lot for the bday invite... I guess payback's a bitch, so now we're even. I like where you're going with the oysters, bread and wine - oh yes and PB ice cream. I am all for ordering the greens next time. Holler and Happy Happy Birthday. America loves you!

  8. would hate to see you and the gastronomer in some dark alley with broken beer bottles... :)