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french food in san diego?

looking for french cuisine in san diego. doesnt necessarily need to be fancy, in fact, french country cooking that is affordable would be ideal.

anybody know a good place?

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  1. Three excellent places:

    Tapenade in La Jolla -- rather upscale bistro, really serious fine food

    Cavaillon in Rancho Santa Luz (wheerdat? been there, it's up there in the boonies) -- a protegee of the major chef at Tapenade, comfy country setting, also fab food.

    BerhardO's in Rancho Bernardo -- another superb chef from the Tapenade stable, very pretty bistro.

    Farmhouse - here in town in University Heights, charming little place, excellent food, more affordable than any of the above. Probably the one you're looking for.

    La Bonne Boeuf in Encinitas -- very old-fashioned menu of America's favorite French foods, but I hear they're done well.

    We also have a lot of places that do the sort of le-fake-French bistro menu you find sometimes in Paris in restaurants that put all the Americans into a separate room and give them their own menu of the French foods they think Americans like. You can tell which places I mean because when you look at their menus, you'll find a recipe for every single dish in Julia Child Volume I. And Julia's recipes are often better than these restaurants' if you're willing to DIY, since you have quality control over ingredients when you do the cooking.

    4 Replies
    1. re: naomiwise

      Welcome Naomi. It's a pleasure having you here.

        1. re: naomiwise

          It's actually "La Bonne Bouffe". The first time I went there I noticed a card on the table stating that cassoulet is always available. This was after we had ordered our meals and it was too late to change, so I asked if I could have a small sample (I love cassoulet). The waiter returned with a full portion, compliments of the chef. I enjoyed it.

          1. re: naomiwise

            Although I used to be a big fan of Tapenade, I am no longer overwhelmed with this place. The service seems overly pretentious, the prices are high, and the food although generally good, is not terrific.

            For my buck, Cavaillon is a better deal. The service is warm and friendly, the food is very good, and the overall feel is more comfortable and homey than Tapenade. It is also less expensive.

          2. Vincent's in Escondido.

            1. I second Cavaillon, always had a great meal there. Also try Bistro Le Bouchon in Escondido.

              1. Tapenade, and Cavaillon are my top two picks. Both have excellent food, in a medium upscale environment. I have photos and descriptions of many of the menu items from both restaurants on my blog if you are interested.


                1. Cafe' Chloe, located just a couple of blocks South of Gaslamp area

                  1. Cavaillon--good and affordable for the quality. worth the drive out to Santaluz. They also have a killer Sunday brunch.

                    Tapenade in La Jolla is very good. More formal than Cavaillon.

                    1. Blue Boheme on Adams Ave, just east of I-15. Great food, drinks and good prices. They do great things with muscles.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                        Food is not bad but the prices at Blue Boheme are pretty high for what you get. Cafe Chloe, Cavaillon are much better options.

                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                          Blue Boheme not on same level as others mentioned in this thread. Didn't notice the servers as being particularly muscular.

                          1. re: mcgrath

                            lol, there is a weight room out back of the kitchen ;)

                            1. re: mcgrath

                              I agree that BB is "not on same level" but we still enjoy going there and I'm pretty sure that our dinner tab there is not the same as our tab at either Tapenade or Cavaillon...

                              1. re: ibstatguy

                                Actually the tab at Cavaillon will be the same or even cheaper than at Blue Boheme. Most entrees at both places are in the mid-20s and Cavaillon has one of the best (remaining) and cheapest tasting menus in SD.

                                1. re: honkman

                                  well I guess that proves I don't "pay" enough attention to the price of meals. one draw for us at BB is the moules which I don't recall, at least at the moment, ever seeing at Cavaillon. FWIW, I am and have been a big supporter on this board of both Tapenade and Cavaillon...

                          2. San diego could you some more well executed traditional french restaurants.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: stevewag23

                              Sorry to highjack this (San Diego) thread, but Steve you should drive North to Basilic on Balboa Island. My wife and I go there at least once every time we are in the area, and have never been disappointed. On one occasion I was looking forward to the seafood risotto, but they had taken it off the menu. When I commented on that to the waiter, he excused himself and returned a minute later, saying the chef would do it for me, The last time I was there it was back on the menu.

                              It is a tiny place - a dozen tables at most.

                              1. re: souschef

                                Interesting that you mention Basilic in Newport Beach. We went there a couple of months ago and overall weren't very impressed. The food was OK but nothing special sometimes even disappointing.

                            2. Why has no one mentioned Hexagone at 5th and Laurel? Or even the French Market Grille in the outskirts.
                              Both are quite fine. I don't think they belong in the last paragraph of naomi's post.
                              Prices are fair, selection is good, wines are affordable as are the menu prices. Service may be a bit inconsistent but the heart is good.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: P Macias

                                what's the scoop with "french 101 " in LJ (old hard rock locale)? its supposed to open in a week or so.
                                I would love a bistro but i am guessing this may not be that!

                                1. re: keena

                                  Talked to the owner 2 weeks ago, he is calling it bistro/brasserie. We have high hopes as it is in our neighborhood, but afraid he's not really clued in to french cuisine terms. He is spending a ton of money in TI's and decor and it shows. Gorgeous use of copper and brass in railings and giant pastry shelves. From what he told us, his past restaurant experience in SD is running a location of a small, french, mini chain in North County Coastal. Fingers crossed.

                              2. the real question is can you get steak tartare at any of these places?

                                16 Replies
                                  1. re: honkman

                                    Yeah, I always seem to miss it by a day.

                                    I think it is amazing you cannot get steak tartare in this town.

                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                      La V has great steak tartare - daily.

                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                          They have steak tartare at Neighborhood, have you tried it?

                                              1. re: stevewag23

                                                I used to eat the tartare at Neighborhood a lot. It was delicious.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  I will give it a shot.

                                                  I like how they spell it "STEAK TARTAR" on their menu.

                                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                                    Haven't had it in several months, so who knows, it may suck by now. Good luck.

                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                great tip, I have been there tons and never noticed.

                                                I didn't see it on the online menu either.

                                                Is it off menu?

                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                            You can have mine. Steak tartare is OK but nothing which I am really looking for.

                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                              Kitchen 1540 has buffalo tartare and it's very good
                                              JRDN has steak tartare (have not tried it, just saying they do)