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Le Saint Amour, Culver City

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DrHowie Jun 7, 2009 11:00 AM

This is a new (opened last week) bistro on Culver Blvd. Dinner on Friday night was great. Closest I've felt to a true French casual bistro in a while. Great look, noisy but not overwhelming. Really felt like a sort of updated version of a Paris cafe. There was French being spoken at many if not most tables. OK, the food: the host/owner presented a complementary Kir while we waited for our table (we had reservations). I started with the sauteed veal sweetbreads served with a nice frisee salad. It was delicious; the sweetbreads were not quite as crispy as i would prefer but the flavor was great. My wife stared with the escargot which she really liked. Friends started with the endive/roquefort salad and a green salad which I didn't try. I had the duck confit that came with an oyster mushroom fricasee, and I had to get an order of frites. My wife loved her moules frites (better than Anisette she said). Friends had the roast chicken and the steak au poivre frites. All the mains were absolutely great, well prepared, well plated. The frites were excellent. Service is professional, not intrusive. We all said we'd definitley return. We skipped dessert. The wine list is overhwelmingly French with some very interesting wines and very fair prices. We had a bottle ofRully, and one friend who prefers beer had a Fisher. Dinner for 4 before the tip was $175. I really enjoyed this new addition to the Culver City dining scene and highly recommend it.

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  1. c
    Cinnamon RE: DrHowie Jun 7, 2009 11:23 AM

    Link far below, and dinner menu is here:
    http://lesaintamour.com/dinner-menu.html

    Looks like that is 9725 Culver Blvd., whereas Bistro de l'Hermitage, a French cafe we've gone to periodically, is at 9727 Culver Blvd. Is it indeed right next door, or did something happen to Hermitage?

    Here's the Hermitage Website:
    http://www.bistrohermitage.com/

    Bistro de l'Hermitage is tied for 99th in the 2008 poll for best restaurants $25 up:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/580125

    -----
    Le Saint Amour
    9725 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cinnamon
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      Alice RE: Cinnamon Jun 7, 2009 05:27 PM

      it's next door to bistro l' hermitage. thanks for the report, looking forward to trying it.

      1. re: Cinnamon
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        kevin RE: Cinnamon Jun 7, 2009 07:19 PM

        is it in the space that used to be Double Dutch Dinette???

        1. re: kevin
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          kevin RE: kevin Jun 7, 2009 07:23 PM

          one other thing, if my sources this one is from the original proprietors the much beloved, Angelique Cafe in downtown LA.

          1. re: kevin
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            italiancountry RE: kevin Jun 13, 2009 04:20 PM

            That is correct. The owner's name is Bruno and he makes fantastic Pate's. They sold Anglique cafe a few years ago. The new restaurant is terrific.

      2. n
        NAspy RE: DrHowie Jun 7, 2009 09:44 PM

        We ate there Saturday evening at 7 -- restaurant had a good sized crowd of many French speakers (perhaps the presence of pigs feet on the menu was a major draw) and the place was very "French." Preferred it in all aspects to Anisette which I thought was very overrated. There were 4 of us (2 grownups, 2 kids) and we started with the charcuterie plate accompanied by very nice rolls and some butter; kids had the onion soup and the herring and fingerling potato salad. Everything was a hit. The different meats were not identified on the charcuterie plate but there was prosciutto, salami, a mouthwatering veal pate, a country pate with pistachios, and one other.

        I want to put in a word for the Kir Royales we were served. Unlike every other place, where the presence of cassis is barely a whiff, here we had an excellent embodiment of the Kir Royale.

        On to main dishes -- the kids split the Entrecote with bearnaise. The steak had excellent flavor albeit a bit fattier than I would have expected from this dish. It was accompanied by a mound of pommes frites which we all enjoyed. I ordered the monkfish which is served on the bone with some roasted fennel and a tomato tartlet. The sauce accompanying the fish was an excellent butter based sauce which I can't quite recall, but it was delicious. My wife had the whitefish which was pan fried and served on a bed of lentils. Prices are very good -- reasonable.

        Everyone was very happy with their food. For dessert we had the creme caramel and the chocolate mousse which had a very strong orange (grand marnier) flavor to it. The restaurant had run out of a few dishes, but other than that, we had no complaints.

        Dinner for four -- 2 appetizers, 1 charcuterie plate, 3 glasses of alcohol, 3 main dishes and 2 desserts came to $137 before tip.

        It is indeed right next door to Bistro de la Hermitage (still consulting with Patricia Wells as to the exact difference between bistro and brasserie --they served many of the same dishes -- less braised dishes at the brasserie such as coq a vin and bourgounon, more roasted and pan fried dishes, which I guess is the difference) and I 'm happy to say that Culver City mainstay was quite busy also. They have the exact same chairs. The food at Saint Amour was better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: NAspy
          Will Owen RE: NAspy Jun 8, 2009 01:25 PM

          A brasserie is typically a sort of Alsatian bierstube with French Alsatian food, and of course they serve wine as well. St. Amour, though, is one of the crus of Beaujolais, and in fact the menu is a bunch more Burgundian than Alsatian, so I'd have expected the place to be called an auberge, or something of that sort. However, after reading the menu and these reports, they could call it Murphy's Pub for all I care - I just wanna go!

        2. adelly RE: DrHowie Jun 8, 2009 11:45 AM

          NAspy - we were there as well around the same time! I absolutely loved the place. Truly authentic French. My husband went pig all the way - pig's feet, which he said were fabulous, then the pig's intestine, which he didn't really like but that was due to personal preference (it was cooked traditionally - boiled, very strong pungent aroma and taste). I started off with the roquefort/endive/walnut salad which was very light and tasty. My entree was the Moules Mariniere - one of the best I ever had (even better than what I had in Belgium!)....very creamy and tender. The prices are reasonable, the service very attentive and friendly.

          4 Replies
          1. re: adelly
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            Cinnamon RE: adelly Jun 28, 2009 09:28 PM

            The co-owner Bruno Herve Commereuc is from Normandy and has his own charcuterie company:
            http://oalabouche.com/default.aspx
            Le Saint Amour is a spinoff of Angelique Cafe downtown.

            I've so far had the sweetbreads (twice, really nice) and the blood sausage (very good, not dry, tender).

            The tarte flambe with leeks and mozzarella is terrific - an uber-thin leek pizza, basically. This would be yummy for breakfast, I think. I have a leftover slice that may soon sit alongside or under a fried egg.

            My favorite thing so far is the guinea fowl stuffed (just a little) with foie gras, seared cabbages and cognac sauce. Wonderfully savory, albeit I'm a sucker for well-prepared tart cabbage.

            Dining companion got the duck confit, which I was not fond of - I suspect it was cooked perfectly as it was supposed to be as a duck confit, and that I just don't like duck confit so much. (I am extremely fond of duck with crispy skin and various tart sauces, and especially Asian preparations.) I would say if you really like duck confit, do get it here!

            1. re: Cinnamon
              Will Owen RE: Cinnamon Jun 29, 2009 11:57 AM

              I enjoyed the duck confit served on spaghetti at Angelique, and would expect to enjoy it here, too. Delighted to hear about the guinea fowl; foie gras would be icing on the cake for me, since I just love the birds as is and unadorned. Now I'm getting seriously excited about trying this place. Thanks to everyone for pushing me that way...

              1. re: Will Owen
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                Cinnamon RE: Will Owen Jun 29, 2009 05:56 PM

                OK, I kind of hesitate to say this but what the heck, I'll just blurt it out, regarding the guinea fowl:

                Tastes like chicken. (Well, kind of the way you always kind of wanted chicken to taste, but that it doesn't anymore.)

                1. re: Cinnamon
                  Will Owen RE: Cinnamon Jun 30, 2009 02:55 PM

                  Like chicken, eh? Wonder if they're stuck with the little baby ones, which can only be roasted. Pintade we had in France were all grown up and required braising, to excellent effect.

                  So near and yet so far: drove by this place this morning, but it was only 10:30 and I had the dog with me besides. At least now I know where it is.

          2. g
            Gastrogourmet RE: DrHowie Jun 9, 2009 09:14 AM

            Simple foods, fresh and cooked to perfection, in a bistro/ brasserie setting, with charming owners who know their stuff. I've been there a couple of times, and here are my favorites to date: souris d'agneau (braised lamb), sweetbreads, merguez over a bed of cooked carrots, and the salmon pate'. I can't wait to go back, I just hope they don't get too busy where it becomes difficult to get a table.

            1. p
              PandanExpress RE: DrHowie Jun 9, 2009 03:17 PM

              I tried to go at lunch today but they weren't open for lunch yet. According to the lady there, they'll start opening for lunch next Wednesday.

              2 Replies
              1. re: PandanExpress
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                hboy RE: PandanExpress Jun 13, 2009 04:30 PM

                went for first time last night - love the place, will easily become one of our standbys...great service, we got several visits from the owner, who made several good recommendations and was super friendly

                per recommendations here, had the merguez with carrots - great housemade sausage...frisee salad, mussels and frites were all solid and tasty as well...duck confit was my favorite, over a nice oyster mushroom fricassee

                like others here, hoping it doesn't get too popular but so happy to have such a solid french option around!

                1. re: PandanExpress
                  Servorg RE: PandanExpress Jun 13, 2009 05:42 PM

                  I guess they were overly optimistic when they put their website together then because it lists then as serving both lunch and dinner.

                2. c
                  Cinnamon RE: DrHowie Jun 14, 2009 10:02 AM

                  Just went there last night - very happy to see them in the neighborhood.

                  The sweetbreads were terrific, the guinea hen stuffed with foie gras as well - with seared red cabbage and a cognac sauce. Perfect temperature - iinterior still quite hot. I would get that again, easily (though I prefer squab to guinea hen and other white-meat birds, it was still really good)>

                  Also, really outstanding service from start to finish, with a warm and convivial atmosphere. We ate outside, but the interior looks was inviting too - made me wish they did breakfast. It would be a terrific place for a long breakfast.

                  The portions were perfectly sized, not small, but given that it's expertly prepared French food - no room for dessert.

                  They had plenty of business at prime time on a Saturday night - no line but that may change as more people hear about them in the next few weeks and months. Happily, Bistro de l'Hermitage next door also had plenty of business. Hope the proximity ends up being a positive for both of them - they have the makings of a French block there! (And a pretty little block it is, for dining outside.)

                  1. Will Owen RE: DrHowie Jun 29, 2009 02:17 PM

                    Another hot flash: there was a nice little review of this place in today's LA Times. Calendar section.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Will Owen
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                      carter RE: Will Owen Jun 30, 2009 03:05 PM

                      Will - here it is:
                      http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/...
                      already eaten here once, cannot wait to return, until of course Bistro LQ opens, in which case there will be two restaurants I cannot wait to return to.

                    2. m
                      mattatouille RE: DrHowie Jun 30, 2009 01:28 PM

                      place sounds excellent, thanks for the various reviews. Will try this place soon and come back with report. LA has needed this reasonably priced French Fare for some time now. Anisette and Comme Ca are just too expensive.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mattatouille
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                        kevin RE: mattatouille Jun 30, 2009 07:14 PM

                        and this more classic french than the other two.

                      2. t
                        tward RE: DrHowie Jul 24, 2009 11:54 AM

                        Had dinner last night, four adults, one 3 year old. Great experience. Competent service and all dishes - from the mushroom soup to the sausage & lentils to the cheese plate - were very good and the portions were generous. I thought $144 before tip was a fair deal. I'll be back.

                        They could add some ceiling fans to the main dining area to cool it down during the heat.

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