What's the lowdown on Au Bouchon? (Seattle)
- Jason S. May 4, 2002 04:05 PM
Has anyone been to this place yet? I ate there last summer when it was still La Bodega and was surprised to find a restaurant that dared to do real Spanish food, not Latin Fusion, not Mediterranean, but Spanish. Simple. (And no, I haven't been to Harvest Vine, I know, I know.)
Since it is the same people that own it, I have been excited to get over there knowing that they would send out some heart-felt food. Love to hear what kind of experiences folks have had there . . . Details are always admired.
I went there last night. It is a very un-pretentious French neighborhood bistro. I never made it to La Bodega, but it sounds like a similar approach -- no fusion cuisine here, only straight-forward French fare. I had the Boulliabase (excuse further attempts at French spelling), which was good, not spectacular, but solid. My partner had the Cassolet, which she enjoyed, although she found it a bit salty and the portion too generous. I thought the sausage in it was excellent. We shared a very nice endive salad and had creme boulet (very good) and a pear tart (good, but too cold -- should not have been refrigerated) for dessert.
The place was packed and many people seemed to be on return visits. The owner, Phillipe (I think he was the owner) was great -- very attentive and friendly, but not hovering. The service was OK -- they seemed to be a little short on help. We had a long wait on the check (perhaps, as in France, we were supposed to ask?), but otherwise, fine. The only down side was a pretty limited wine list, although Phillipe said he planned to have wine tastings in the future, so perhaps the list will expand.
As someone who increasingly finds the chic decor and coolness of Belltown places tiring at times, this was a welcome change. Casual and friendly, it seems like a great neighborhood place for those in Wallingford. Alas, as with most Seattle places, the check was a little steep ($75 w/out tip for two entrees, two glasses of wine, a salad and two desserts) for a place of this caliber. The norm for Seattle, but 15% too much compared to similar bistros in NYC.
Overall: a good, friendly neighborhood bistro with a nice, simple menu -- we will return, since it is in the neighborhood. I would recommend it, but not if you are seeking a special, fine dining "experience."
re: Nick Z
I have to second most of this. In fact, I was also there the same night - we arrived just before it got really crowded, so we felt like we got a lot of attention at first; Phillipe apologized later that he had to be less attentive when it filled up. We went there on a whim, on our way to somewhere else originally.
My sweetie had the cassoulet, which she just gobbled up (I did try the sausage in it as well - marvelous!) Since cassoulet is usually a cold-weather dish, Phillipe emphasised that this was the last cassoulet of the season.
I was not as hungry, so I had the onion soup and the onion tarte - both exceptionally wonderful. The soup was hearty, and the tarte was creamily good, with a melt-in-your mouth pastry.
For dessert, I couldn't decide between the creme brulet or the chocolate mousse, so I went for the latter - tasty, but not great. It had clearly been sitting in the fridge for some time, so it was a little "stale" on top. Sweetie had the pear tart (but I apologize that I don't recall what she thought of it.)
With two glasses of wine, we felt the price was quite reasonable, and we were glad to have gone. As I work in the neighborhood, I am certain I will return for lunch on a regular basis. As stated by Nick Z., it's a nice, unpretentious neighborhood place - it should get support from all the Wallingford folks. Try it soon, before it gets any busier!
Thanks for the details Nick, Retro. I will definitely have to swing by some night. Bouillabaisse sounds lovely right now.
Man, this town is too short on good neighborhood bistros. A fine, simple meal in a place that cares about what they are doing is always an experience to me. Chic dining does NOT necessarily make fine dining. (sigh)