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Poulet Frites (Roast Chicken & Fries)

David Kahn Dec 19, 2001 07:27 PM

Hi all.

Last fall I went to Paris, and one evening ate dinner at the Chez Balzar bistro, which had the best roast chicken with fries (and creamed spinach on the side) I've ever tasted. Any suggestions about where I might attempt to replicate this experience here in Los Angeles?

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  1. b
    Bob Brooks RE: David Kahn Dec 19, 2001 07:33 PM

    Try these: Pinot Bistro on Ventura in Studio City; Le Petit Bistro, also on Ventura in Sherman Oaks and on La Cienega in West Hollywood.

    Lastly, check out Le Petit Zinc on Wilshire in West L.A.

    Sadly, most of these places do a better job on the frites than the chicken, which tends to be a little on the dry side.

    The best solution might be to get takeout at Zankou and pick up a side of fries from McDonalds on the way home.


    14 Replies
    1. re: Bob Brooks
      roger simon RE: Bob Brooks Dec 19, 2001 07:59 PM

      Quite droll, Bob, but Zankou plus MacDonald's does not equal the Brasserie Balzar, at least to me.

      1. re: roger simon
        Bob Brooks RE: roger simon Dec 19, 2001 08:37 PM

        Is there anything here that would? For example, how do we get a chicken like one from Bresse? Or, what restaurant here would bother to coat the chicken they roast in goose fat?

        Assuming they served such a simple dish at a place like, say, L'Orangerie, who among us would be willing to pay for it?

        Some things, especially the simple ones, are the hardest to duplicate. Alas.

        1. re: Bob Brooks
          roger simon RE: Bob Brooks Dec 19, 2001 09:46 PM

          I couldn't agree more. I love places like the Brasserie Balzar because you could eat there every day. Indeed, many do. There are trats like that in Rome and Florence too, as I"m sure you know. But we don't have such places here, really. Not in NY either. At least I can't think of any. But I did have some incredibly good pommes frites in the last month in LA, but I can't remember for the life of me right now where it was. All I remember is they were cooked in lard.

          1. re: roger simon
            Bob Brooks RE: roger simon Dec 19, 2001 11:23 PM

            Roger, that sounds like the basis for a highly worthy, separate, post on pommes frites.

            Think, Man, think! Where did you get those tatsty 'tats fried in lard?

            This is important stuff!

            1. re: Bob Brooks
              michael (mea culpa) RE: Bob Brooks Dec 20, 2001 12:07 PM

              I agree that the various Pinots do a nice job on chicken and garlicy frites. One thing about frites is they don't travel well. By the time you get em home they are soggy (or I've eaten them on the way). I've noticed that at In N Out they do a thing where they shake the fries in a towel full of salt which really coats them altho I think McDonald's fries are superior. The best fries I've had are either Dutch ones in a paper cone with mayo or homemade ones which after being cut are put in the freezer to really chill them before throwing them in the deep fat fryer. Personnally, I like eating fries with lots of Dijon. I await with anticipation the fabulous pommes frites post. Roger, go for it.

              1. re: michael (mea culpa)
                jerome RE: michael (mea culpa) Dec 20, 2001 03:09 PM

                I've heard that the "secret" ingredient for the best pommes frites in France isn't lard, rather it's rendered horse fat.

                1. re: jerome
                  Cube RE: jerome Dec 20, 2001 03:51 PM

                  Cant' say first-hand, but I'd bet Cafe Angelique in the Garment District might do a worthy immitation. Everything seems authentically French, esp. fries. Be worth a try.

              2. re: Bob Brooks
                roger simon RE: Bob Brooks Dec 20, 2001 07:55 PM

                I remember now! They were at the Hitching Post II up in Buellton CA, often written about on here for their steaks and wine. They have fabulous french fries as well, cooked in lard as noted. (They also provide a cardiologist in the men and women's rest rooms!)

                1. re: roger simon
                  Kev RE: roger simon Dec 21, 2001 12:53 AM

                  That tears it! I'm going to the Hitching Post next month! I just wanted to go for the meat at first, but the whole lard thing just sold me...oh yeah, and the potatoes that they go with.

                  (Steph P, you hear me? :-) )

                  1. re: Kev
                    roger simon RE: Kev Dec 21, 2001 09:28 AM

                    Hey, kev, one caveat re:The Hitchiing Post. I don't think it would see as good if it was located on the corner of, say, Melrose & LaBrea. It has a mystique that comes with distance. You know the drill--you drive two hours and forty minutes it can't be that bad. That said, it's a helluva lot of fun and a great weekend adventure. While there, don't miss the artichoke appetizer. Also good. If you're into wines, I would suggest the Highlander, excellent for the Central Coast. But let's face it, it ain't Napa. The vino is still a lot better on the Silverado Trail.

                    1. re: roger simon
                      Kev RE: roger simon Dec 21, 2001 12:32 PM

                      Hey Roger,

                      Thanks for the tips, that's okay, I've been known to go all the way to Harris Ranch, in Coalinga, just for a steak. It was far from the best steak I've ever had, but half the fun is the drive, right?

                      Is the Highlander one of the bottles that HP releases? I've heard their central coast merlots are quite tasty.

                      1. re: Kev
                        roger simon RE: Kev Dec 23, 2001 10:24 AM

                        The Highlander is, I believe, a Pinot Noir, the grape of choice in that region, although Syrah is on the rise. And the steaks definitely are better than Harris Ranch, without the cow stench.

                    2. re: Kev
                      Steph P RE: Kev Dec 28, 2001 06:46 PM

                      belated "I hear ya" :)

          2. re: Bob Brooks
            David Boyk RE: Bob Brooks Dec 21, 2001 02:45 AM

            Pffft McDonald's, but if you did Zankou and Benita's, you might have something. 'Course, you'd have to eat it right there, because fries don't travel at all (probably the Apple Pan has the least peripatetic fries ever, but they're damn good if you eat them there and order them well-done), but it'd be pretty good, I bet.

          3. c
            carter RE: David Kahn Dec 21, 2001 02:13 PM

            Mistral in Sherman Oaks, just west of the Le Petit Bistro and just a little further west of the Pinot Bistro. Very good fries. Actually for a very good half checken, maybe more American than French style, is at Stanleys on Ventura Blvd., just west of Woodman. Still the best value in roasted chicken is the 2.5 pounder at Costco for $4.95. Get your own fries from venue of choice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: carter
              Ruth Lafler RE: carter Dec 21, 2001 05:21 PM

              I second the recommendation for roast chicken at Costco. I'm fairly new to Costco, and wouldn't have thought of buying a roast chicken there, but happened to be standing there as the guy was taking a fresh batch off the spit rods and they looked so good I thought, what the hell.

              The bird was plump and fresh, and definitely not over cooked. They use Foster Farms chickens, which are about as good as large-scale commercially raised chickens get. The only quibble I had was that the seasoning on the skin was a little too "seasoning salty" for my taste -- but not so much so that I didn't eat every morsel. Certainly you can't beat the price.

            2. d
              Dylan Yolles RE: David Kahn Dec 21, 2001 04:32 PM

              I've never had truly great roast chicken in any restaurant. By the time it gets to you, it's cooked twice most of the time and lost its delicious juiciness. In addition, the food nazis have convinced restaurants taht they need to cook chicken to 200 degrees to be safe. So I think the only good roast chicken is at home. (The Bresse chickens are a nice touch, but I've had pretty good results from the supermarket fryers too.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dylan Yolles
                Michael Robertson Moore RE: Dylan Yolles Dec 21, 2001 06:46 PM

                Are restaurants actually required by law to cook a chicken to 200 degrees?


              2. c
                Cyrus J. Farivar RE: David Kahn Jan 2, 2002 07:44 PM

                I don't know about how it compares to Paris, but there's a local place that's a 2 min drive from where I live that's been here for years, inside the Brentwood Country Mart.

                At the inside of the courtyard, next to the supermarket, is a place called Reddi-Chick. They have great roast chickens that you get served over a basket of fries. It's a great place to go with kids, on a weekend, if you're in the area, and their barbeque sauce is killer. I've been going there since I was *this* high...enjoy!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cyrus J. Farivar
                  Just Larry RE: Cyrus J. Farivar Jan 6, 2002 08:49 AM

                  When I was hungry and working in Brentwood I loved this place. It was cheap and filling. It is not in any way to be compared with a French Poulet Frites. It is just good workin' man bird and taters.

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