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Aug 12, 2008 01:48 PM

Napa - Bouchon or Bistro Jeanty?

I'm going to Napa with my significant other for Labor Day weekend. I have reservations at Bouchon but am thinking about jumping ship and going to Bistro Jeanty. Has anyone been there recently and do you have a recommendation? Don't care that much about having the "Thomas Keller experience" - just want good food that's not overpriced. It seems people had been complaining of Bouchon's food/service but that may have been due to their renovation and I heard that's done with.

Any recs? My s.o. loves beef bourguignon and salmon so please let me know if either place has or is good at preparing those dishes.

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  1. I'd recommend Bistro Jeanty over Bouchon--renovation or no renovation. Neither has beef bourguignon but Jeanty has a beef Daube which is really a beef stew served with peas and mashed potatoes. Bouchon normally has salmon, which is excellent. My wife thinks Jeanty's fillet of sole is the best she's ever had. Jeanty has an excellent cassoulet and coq au vin. His (Phillipe's) tomato soup with puff pastry is a signature item, always on the menu, and very rich. I prefer Jeanty's steak frites over the Bouchon version. I love Jeanty's chocolate mousse creme' brulee--a large portion. Jeanty is also more reasonably priced. Bouchon does have a good raw bar if your interest lies there. Jeanty also has a nicer venue for patio dining--I think that remodel is finished. Go have a drink at Bouchon's bar and have dinner at Bistro Jeanty.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bobpantzer

      That's a good overview. I love Bistro Jeanty's mussels with red wine sauce, with the grilled bread and side of bearnaise. Love the little European-like patio with the flower boxes.

      I like Bouchon also, but only -- only -- at the bar. The remodel is completed, and I do love the Moules and Frites at Bouchon also, an often mentioned dish on this board. Fantastic raw bar -- they create beautifully presented platters. Very good wine selections, mainly French.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Yes Maria, I forgot about the mussels with red wine sauce--terrific.

        Incidentally, at Bouchon, where they have those unfoldable menus printed on thin parchment-like paper, how many times have you seen diners accidentally set them on fire with those little votive candles sitting on the tables. I've seen that happen at least three times over the years.

        1. re: bobpantzer

          Oh, I've missed that loveliness. But I do remember being on a very romantic date and I could not hear him speak, and he was 18 inches from me across the table. I could clearly hear the conversations on either side of me. That happened yet again, with a meal with two French winemakers. Then, not too long ago, I met with an international wine scientist, with whom I really wanted to talk shop, and another French winemaker, and since there were three of us we had to sit at a table. Once again, we could not hear each other talk. We had to shout to be heard. Ridiculous.

          But I love the bar. And the raw bar.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Thanks so much for the responses! I appreciate the "digging in" on recommending dishes since sometimes great restaurants have mediocre dishes and mediocre restaurants have great dishes. Too bad there's no beef bourguignon at either. Perhaps it was over popularized by Julia Child? The Beef Daube sounds like a great backup.

        How's the foie grois at Jeanty? I've heard good things about the one at Bouchon but it's $$$

        I chose French bistro for sentimental reasons. My s.o. and I do long distance and our favorite neighborhood restaurant in Boston is a French bistro where we often dined al fresco. The patio dining at Jeanty put it over the edge for that reason so I've put a reservation down. I'm hungry.

        1. re: cing2x

          Yes, I suppose the beef Daube is a good back-up but, frankly, I would, like you, prefer the Bourguignon and sometimes I've thought the Daube to be a bit pedestrian, though it is always tasty.

          The foie gras is actually in pate form and is delicious and, predictably, very rich. Definitely share it, perhaps with another appetizer. Among the other apps, I've enjoyed the smoked trout, pigs feet salad, and the rabbit terrine. The pork belly with lentils and foie gras ragout sounds interesting but I haven't tried it and definitely will.

          If you're really into beef, I think the entrecote frites is among the best I've ever had and the bearnaise sauce served with it is outstanding.

          Save room, though, for that chocolate mousse creme brulee. The rice pudding is also good.

          1. re: cing2x

            If you search this board for "Jeanty" you should also get links for Jeanty at Jack's, a sister restaurant in SF. Menu is very similar, so you may get more pointers.

            I very much enjoy the foie gras au torchon at Jeanty at Jack's. It's a good size slice. The petit sale is very tasty as well, but the slice of foie gras lobe on it is fairly small. Think of it as a rustic pork and beans (lentils) garnished with foie gras.

        2. Although we have had many nice experiences at Bouchon and especially enjoy the fois gras, a major disappointment was the leg of lamb. We are definite Bistro Jeanty fans. Nothing has disappointed us there. Favorites are the tomato soup, cassoulet, and tongue salad. We like the decor more -- pre rennovation, at least -- than Bouchon.

          1. I've dined at Bouchon in Napa and Vegas and both were fantastic...try the pork belly if it's on the menu. However, Bistro Jeanty is probably more 'soulfully' satisfying. There's much less focus on pretense there. If you go, make sure to have the cassoulet. It's the best I've had. Ever. I am a chef and I love to make cassoulet, and I cannot make one that is as good. Realize that wherever you go, the food should be fantastic.
            Chef Tim