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good french restaurant

  • j

I moved to California about a year ago from NYC so I don't know where all the good restaurants are. My first year wedding anniversary is coming up and I need a recommendation for a good restaurant in the LA area. I'm more interested in the food than the scene so no trendy or loud places. To get an idea of what I'm looking for, here are some of my NY favorites: Blue Hill, Bouley, Payard and Le Tableau (I know they're all very different but that just means that I'm open to all suggestions)! We are partial to French though. Thanks!

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  1. Though it is in the restaurant hinterlands of North Hollywood I think Maximilan's will fit the bill quite nicely.
    It is a no-scene kind of a place. The chef is French and his food is uniformly excellent IMO.

    Weddington & Tujunga

    1 Reply
    1. re: bodie

      Maximilian's is closed - either temporarily or permanently. The outgoing voice mail message sounds quite ominous and suspicious -- indicating that the place is closed for a "much needed vacation". However it fails to state when (or if) they will reopen. Not having ever understood what the big deal was with this place, can't say that I care one way or the other.

    2. My experience is almost entirely fairly close to Pasadena, though we did drop in at Le Petit Café in Santa Monica one night and had a delightful meal. Café Beaujolais in Eagle Rock and Bistro de la Gare in South Pas (run by the former owner of CB) have given us some good bistro food in jolly surroundings; most stunning so far, however, are the very slightly Japanese-tinged food and thoroughly pleasant atmosphere at Maison Akira in Pasadena. While two of Akira's prix-fixe menus are Japanese, as are a few of the á la carte menu items, most of the food is very classic French, with only an occasional Asian twist to a sauce or garnish. Not cheap, but well under l'Orangerie prices - if I'm feeling somewhat flush next time we have a Special Occasion, that is definitely where we're going.

      1. I'm not familiar with any of your NY faves, but would second the recommendation for Le Petit Cafe in Santa Monica. Other excellent choices (though they are more "L.A." in tone and scene, though not overly so) would be Cafe Mimi in Brentwood, Mimosa (my favorite) and Pastis in West Hollywood-ish and Lilly's in Venice.

        1. I'll give you a third recommendation for Le Petit Cafe in Santa Monica. It's on Colorado, two blocks east of Cloverfield. It's very quaint. We've been frequenting the place for over 8 years and can say that it's charming ambiance, while simple and nothing fancy, simply gives a nice backdrop for some fabulous french classic cuisine. It's owned by a husband and wife who are happy to make you happy.

          Lilly's in Venice is also a good choice. More trendy, modern in decor, but all the great classics are there and done well.

          Lilly's offers more ambiance in the way of neighborhood as you can stroll Abbott Kinney and window shop before or after dinner. Perhaps Hal's will have live music on the night your are there adding a great place for an after dinner drink or dessert.


          1. Lillys in Venice and Pastis in West Hollywood are my favorites

            1. Lilly's is o.k. Reasonable Prices, nice patio,but food and service are inconsistent. Had the mussels which were so salty that they were inedible. Le Petit Cafe was our lunch standard. Lobster Bisque is great. Decent, well prepared food,but certainly not in the realm of Bouley. More along the lines would be La Cachette in Century City. Mimosa for very good French Bistro fare. Pastis, 2x I was not impressed with the food at all. Cafe Pierre in Manhattan Beach is a standout and worth the drive. Bon Appetite!

              1. Are any of the NY places bistros? I think you're looking for more than steak frites, non?

                You may have been already, and pardon me if you have, but I can not recommend AOC strongly enough. It's not French, but it will fit the bill. Or Geoffrey's in Malibu for the perfect romantic dinner- the only good restaurant on the ocean where you can actually sit outside and hear the waves.

                Bistro K in S. Pas is French-ish, and although it's the best foie I've had in LA, it sometimes is hit and miss depending on how far out chef has decided to go with the menu that night. I keep reading about Bistro de la Guare, though...

                And there is Melisse, which is excellent, but a tiny bit full of itself (it reminds me of Grammercy Tavern). They have a whole truffle menu.

                I am actually going to Ortolan next weekend. Will report if there's anything special to the visit. I liked the chef's appearance on Iron Chef America (he's Seven-of-Nine's partner)-- only 1 sous chef!

                1. If you like food on the level of Bouley, you should be quite happy with Providence and Ortolan, which are both making French food on quite a high level. Ortolan is perhaps more French-French - Chef Eme's creative cooking would probably earn a Michelin star or two if it were in the 8th - and Providence is one of those places grounded in classical technique but with no particular geographical provenance.

                  I've never found Blue Hill to be particularly French, but if you like that sort of ingredient-based cooking, you would probably enjoy Campanile, which may actually be the place where Dan Barber found his footing back in his sous chef days.

                  1. Last Friday, I ate at the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Pasadena.
                    The food was incredible. Craig Strong's cooking was sophisticated and the quality of the ingredients knocked my socks off. If you would like to see my feedback, go to:

                    It's a somewhat formal (by l.a. standards) but friendly environment if you are looking for something on par with Bouley. Providence is another wonderful special occasion restaurant.

                    1. La Cachette, Melisse, Ortolan, Providence

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I've had PERFECT French Preparations many times at the Chef's table which by the way I was informed last week by Donato that I hold the record for the most dinners at the Chef's table , guess I like it? Sometimes there's almost no Seafood and the Menu consists of , Foie Gras, Confit, Mediterranean Fish, Caviar,Rack of Lamb, Very French in every way. MC is very versatile in his cooking style.

                      1. LaCachette - sweet little French restaurant, chef-owned (used to train at L'Orangerie), in a residential neighborhood, wonderful service.

                        Melisse - a bit bigger, a bit louder, but still wonderful food. Fish prepared tableside, lobster thermidor, vegetarian and regular tasting menu - which you can also order a la carte.

                        Jiraffe - lovely two-story restaurant (I recommend upstairs for a more romantic, quiet dinner), delish food, sweet desserts.

                        Hotel Bel Air dining room - romantic, romantic garden with swans, al fresco, dim lights - inside or out, service is courteous and royal.

                        Ritz Carlton Dining room - Chef Craig Strong is by far one of the most talented, internationally-experienced chefs; room is quiet; foods experienced are naught seen elsewhere; great tasting menu and flavors!

                        Maison Akira - a Japanese/french restaurant; chef has trained at many places including L'Orangerie, great brunches and dinners - sea bass, foie gras, great desserts.

                        Ortolan - a bit fiesty and experimental; some like and some don't, but I adore it; regal dining area.

                        1. Orlotan is one of the most amazing dining experiences that I have ever had. The presentation and service are absolutly amazing. I would give the food between a 7 & 8, but still absolutly amazing. All around wonderful dining experience.

                          1. Last week, I had a sensational foie gras appetizer at the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena. Sauteed spiced foie gras with pecan mousse, sauterne lacquered peach, onion marmelade and toasted brioche. Initially I was skeptical because it sounded overly complicated, but it was sublime. wonderfully prepared foie gras with perfect sweet follies adding texture and dimension.

                            1. I really like Frenchy's Bistro on Anaheim St, in Long Beach. Low profile but great menu, good wine, good service.

                              1. L'orangerie is closing soon. Why not go there? it's a local classic and a wonderful place for a quiet and elegant french meal.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Jerome

                                  Oh that's an excellent idea and we've all only got 'til the end of the year to return (or go for the first time).

                                  1. re: Chow Bella

                                    I must be in the dark, why are they closing?

                                    1. re: jkao1817

                                      They are being taken over by The Nobu Group (Matsuhisa, Nobu Malibu, etc) and will serve their last meal(s) on New Year's Eve.

                                      1. re: jkao1817

                                        Actually, because there are not enough people willing to pay spectacular prices for pretty good food.