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Mediocre Bouchon

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Sad, but true. So far, Bouchon food is run of the mill. Service great. Food very average at best. Who else agrees?

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  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668948

    1. I would have to disagree. I went to Bouchon with three others on the restaurant's first Sunday and the food was far from run of the mill.

      The bread and butter that was brought to the table was delicious.

      We started with oysters and loved them.

      I got the salmon rillette, which I had never had before. It tasted great but not sure if I would order it again as it was a bit heavy. My fiancee had the frisee with poached egg and lardon and that was a big hit.

      For my main course I got the chicken, which was incredible. Maybe the best chicken I have ever had. It was succulent and is making my mouth water just thinking about it again. The lardons in my chicken dish and my fiancee's salad were so tasty. Lardons like the ones I ate would be amazing sprinkled on any dish you put in front of me.

      My fiancee had the salmon with lentils. The salmon was top notch. My friend had the boudin noir (blood sausage) and that was as good as I have ever had it.

      The desserts were so good. The boucons with vanilla ice cream were great and I loved my chocolate ice cream. The meringue and creme anglaise dish was the star of the night and was sublime.

      The one slip up on the evening was the macaroni au gratin was not served until we were almost done with the main courses. The server had apologized when it wasn't brought out with the mains but in my opinion the item should have been removed from our check as a courtesy.

      Definitely a star gazing restaurant. We saw Robert De Niro as well as James Oseland (Saveur and Top Chef Masters) and Jay Rayner (Top Chef Masters)

      I can't wait to return.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FKA Andrew

        Going tonight -much anticipation

        1. re: FKA Andrew

          I loved the salmon rillette at Bouchon in Vegas, has me really wanting Bouchon BH first chance I get.

        2. We've been to all the TK locations and have never had anything other then completely stellar meals. We're going to Bouchon, BH next week and I'm sure it'll be fantastic.

          1. I havent been, but I am curious to know what you didn't like. What did you have, and what made it "average?" Was there anything you had that was above average?

            It takes much more thought to analyze the reasons why you didn't like something, but your review will be much more credible if you do.

            1. Haven't been to this location yet, but based on my experiences at the other 2 locations, I would be surprised if it were anything but average. I'm a huge fan of Keller, love FL, PS and AH, but have been singularly unimpressed every time I've been to Bouchon Napa or LV.

              1. i'm in agreement but then again, i went 2 days after opening night.

                sure, there were hits (foie terrine, escargot) and misses (moules, lamb shank, salmon rillette) but i'd give them time to get their stuff together. i plan to go back in a month to see if the wrinkles have been worked out.

                1. Agree. We went Friday Night. Here is what I posted on my blog:

                  This is not a formal review, but just a commentary on our experience with Bouchon, which was clearly a restaurant with an identity crisis. So I first turned to Wikipedia to get some clarity. What is (a) Bouchon?

                  Wikipedia states that a "bouchon is a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France, that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. Compared to other forms of French cooking such as nouvelle cuisine, the dishes are quite fatty, and heavily oriented around meat. There are around 20 officially certified traditional bouchons, but a larger number of establishments describing themselves using the term. Typically, the emphasis in a bouchon is not on haute cuisine, but rather, a convivial atmosphere and a personal relationship with the owner."

                  Hmm. The menu fits that general description but but who charges $35 for (Flatiron) Steak Frites? The food is bistro in design, but sold as Haute Cuisine.

                  Service was attentive...and yet not. They were quick to replace our bread every few moments with fresh warm bread, but we mostly refilled our own wine glasses. The decor of the restaurant is quite elegant, but the disposable menus are printed on brown paper and there is white paper over the tablecloths. (No crayons, though.) We had beautiful Burgundy glasses for the Volnay we brought, but the $87 Bordeaux we ordered off the wine list was served in water glasses. One of the couples with us was celebrating a wedding anniversary, a fact that was made clear multiple times to management. There was no acknowledgment.

                  As for the food, it was hit and miss. The foie gras pate was probably the best item of the night, but it was $48.50! As for the rest, we found ourselves comparing each dish negatively to the same item at places like Anisette, Church and State, Eva, Chez Melange, etc.

                  The preparations were not particularly inspired or creative in execution. And I was expecting a deliberate attempt to focus on local, sustainable cuisine like what you might experience at Bouchon in Napa. But instead, I observed things on the menu like Scottish Salmon and Big Eye Tuna. No information was offered on the sourcing of the other proteins.

                  I left this restaurant with much confusion. Admittedly, I have not been to its sister location in Napa, but my understanding is that location is much truer to its french Bouchon roots than what we experienced. I will say as a result of this experience I am not nearly as excited to explore Keller's other restaurants.

                  Bottom line, if you go to Church and State you will get a very similar menu, but with much better food at much lower prices.

                  http://foodandwineblog.thefoodietrave...

                  -----
                  Chez Melange
                  1611 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                  Bouchon Bistro
                  235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wasabica

                    Bouchon Yountville was very mediocre for the price which is why I never bothered to try the BH branch. I didn't think TFL lived up to the hype either. Per Se was able to redeem them all though.

                    I agree with you completely on the pricing. There's no reason to charge 4 star prices for bistro fare. Kinda goes against the entire concept of bistro. Steak Frites at Church and State is $25 and $28 at Anisette. I didn't find the steak frites at Bouchon Yountville to be any better or any worse.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Update. I've now gone to Bouchon BH and while it was pretty good and better than my Yountville experience, I don't have a burning desire to return. With the closing of Anisette, Church and State will be my go to place for french bistro fare.

                  2. I agree. The food is average, at best. I've been there several times and never experienced a single dish that is above average.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Food Scrounger

                      Just curious; why would you continue to go and pay those prices for dishes that are just average at best?

                      1. re: mucho gordo

                        Folks who come to LA on business often end up eating at places they would never select, but have no control over (for instance).

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Good example, Servorg. Thanks

                          1. re: mucho gordo

                            love ad hoc, tfl but never been impressed with any of the bouchon.....never had a itch to go bh location

                            1. re: rickym13

                              I may be in the minority, but I like Bouchon...In Vegas, I had a terrific breakfast for $22 (perfect poached eggs, toast, flaky chocolate croissant, coffee, juice, bacon, sausage....it kept me full till dinner!) in a lovely setting in the Venetian...felt like I wasn't in Vegas for 90 minutes.

                              Yes, the BH location is a few dollars more than C&S, Annisette or Comme Ca, but neither is inexpensive...a full three course meal, with drinks/wine, at any of those places will run close to $75 pp minimum (Three of us spent $450 at Comme Ca, with a single $45 bottle of wine....we did have cocktails though :)). Yes, Bouchon is maybe $90 instead, but really if I'm willing to drop $150 for two, $180 won't make a difference.

                              1. re: manku

                                OK...went last night, and aside from the fois gras app ,everything was mediocre (and we went early)...I know NYE isn't maybe the best evening to dine, but I was really surprised.

                                Still had a festive, fun time...even if we were the youngest table by 40 years...and I'm 45 :)

                                1. re: manku

                                  I'm probably in the minority, I think they serve good bistro fare for the LA area. In comparison I did not enjoy Comme Ca at all.

                                  Having said that, prices are steep for relatively simple fare, now if only someone would open a place that could execute as well or better at a cheaper location.

                        2. re: mucho gordo

                          The reason: Clients wanted to try it and the restaurant was convenient for purposes of meetings with clients. Otherwise, I'd never go. And, each time I went, I was hoping and hoping that the food would improve. It didn't.

                      2. Strongly disagree. The Croque Madame is spectacular, as are the mussels. The onion soup is excellent and the Pot de Creme is one of my favorite desserts anywhere. This is French bistro food so it is not complicated but the ingredients and execution are always perfect - and diners don't have to sit elbow to elbow as they do in Paris, or fork over the dough for an 11 hour plane ride.

                        1. bouchon is a beautiful room. The food is decent, not SPECTACULAR. but fine Unfortunately, the price is not commensurate with the quality, imho. You are paying for the room, which is as i said, lovely. it's a great evening, and some dishes will be outstanding. onin soup gratinee for 9 50? a bit much.
                          this isn't melisse.
                          But it's a great time I'd go much more often if the price were about 70-80% of what it is now.
                          (this may be true for other restaurants, but i feel that this would bring it more in line with other restos of similar quality).

                          1. I disagree about the food. Some of the best French in LA, albeit at prices far about bistro level. But, sadly, this place has succumbed to the VIP syndrome. Try, just try, to get a reservation at normal dinner hours, even during the week, if you're not among LA's elite.

                            -----
                            Bouchon Bistro
                            235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: globalgourmet

                              Opentable has spots at 645, 745, and 815 Monday-Thursday of this week. Nothing available for Friday and Saturday before 9pm but probably more because the restaurant reserves those blocks to book themselves. Just call. I got Friday night at 830 only a couple of days in advance compared to no availability for 3 weeks when it first opened.

                              Count me in the "it's good but not spectacular and not worth the price point on food alone" camp. It's only some of the best french in LA because LA doesn't have many strong options. Comme Ca is just bad IMO.

                            2. Hm. I've been to Bouchon in LV three times. The first time they didn't have my reservation. The second time they seemed to have an issue. All three times I thought the food was good but just not perfect. French fries? Nothing you crave. The moules frites - seemed like it had a little too much white wine. I'd give it a B-. Bouchon in B.H. tried once - and thought it was very good. Better than LV, but I wasn't comparing apples with apples. (I think I had salmon and lentils). I would definitely go again.

                              And I agree with other hounders in that Church & State would be my preference for this type of food, but going downtown from the westside for dinner is a traffic nightmare.

                              -----
                              Church & State
                              1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                              1. I had a great lunch here a couple months back. The $28 3 course lunch special included as an entree a deboned chicken leg, flattened out, sous-vided , then rolled up like a sausage. It was fantastic! It was served over red rice with lardons. The lunch exceeded my expectations as I was reluctant to eat there that day after having brunch there the previous week (chicken and waffles were delicious!).

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Searching4Dunny

                                  Went for an anniversary dinner last Sunday - 6.15 was offered (or 8.45) so we were in a semi empty room that did not fill up for over an hour. OK service although we were at a table near the service counter and a gaggle of waiters hung there with nothing to do because there were few guests. Every time I go here I want to really love it bringing back a time when I lived in Paris for many years BUT it ain't Paris and while the salade aux lardons is still IMO the best in town, when it comes to the mains: mussels -good but not great and a less than robust sauce. Fries should not be served once but should keep on coming so they are nice and hot (Soleil does this on Wednesday night and the fries just go on and on). I had gigot of lamb sitting on a potato cake with Tokyo turnip (I do not make this up). Mme Zoe insisted that the Tokyo turnip was apple, but the potato cake was good - order haricot vertes for the side and they were exceptional. Four slices of gigot and that was it. Not that I left hungry but for $36 I thought the plate would be more covered in food. Had my favorite dessert Ile Flottant but I have to say that Lily's version wins hands down. One day soon I want to have a really yummy French dinner.

                                  1. re: ZoeZ

                                    ZoeZ has an excellent point - it isn't Paris, but the value is that it is one of the few places, if not the only place that has Paris quality food. As for those complaining about the price point, it is #1, a lot cheaper than going to Paris, and #2, in Paris, the price of the top bistros is shocking, and in some places painful. At world renowned L'Ami Louis, the Coquiles St. Jacques is 58 Euro, or $78 and their world famous roast chicken is 78 Euro or $106 - and that doesn't include airfare, hotel and a cab ride either. Get the point? Bouchon has Paris quality food that is a bargain in comparison. It's as good as it can get outside of being in Paris The fact that you simply cannot get this type of food done this well without flying there (or at least anywhere else in Los Angeles) makes it a treat. It is not haute cuisine, it is Bistro food, and $17 for a the best croque madame' that can be obtained in this country, (this price includes fries), isn't that outlandish when one considers that some single glasses of wine cost more as does a crappy room service breakfast of toast and coffee at any Marriott.

                                    1. re: OC Mutt

                                      I disagree this is the best french food outside of Paris or even within the US or LA for that matter. For bistro food, Pastis and Balthazar in New York do it better for about the same price, even cheaper for several dishes now that I compare the online menus. And you're comparing L'Ami Louis (one of the most expensive and famous bistros in Paris and therefore the world) to Bouchon. It's like comparing apples to mangosteen. It's not even a close comparison.

                                      Again in LA, if I want bistro classics, I find that Church and State does it better for less. For more modern french food, Bastide and Bistro LQ also do it way better for less.

                                      -----
                                      Bastide Restaurant
                                      8475 Melrose Place, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                      Bistro LQ
                                      8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        Balthazar is way, way better than Bouchon BH. They can't even be mentioned in the same breath.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Some of the best French BISTRO food, not fine dining or haute cuisine. And while Balthazar is very good, it's still a plane ride across the country. Though Bouchon is certainly not better than the Paris bistros, it at least is in that league, which means it's a big value for those of us without private jets or the time to travel to NYC and a craving for excellent French bistro food, which is why I don't mind paying 3 extra dollars for my Croque Madame' and fries.

                                          1. re: OC Mutt

                                            The trend these days in Paris is to offer Michelin starred food at bistro prices. Here in LA, you have Bistro LQ embracing that philosophy and offering food as good and often times better than some of the biggest names in LA (Providence, Spago, Patina, etc.) at much lower prices.

                                            Bouchon does the exact opposite. Offering bistro level food at Michelin starred prices. I think that is the main gripe about the place. Not that it's not good, but that it's not good enough to justify the prices.

                                            All I'm saying is to give Church and State a try for bistro fare and see if you still think Bouchon is justified. The prices are more reasonable, the portions are more substantial, and the fare is just as french bistro if not more so.

                                            -----
                                            Spago
                                            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                            Bistro LQ
                                            8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              btw
                                              saint-amour in culver city and bistro de la gare in south pas are both quite decent.

                                              1. re: Jerome

                                                I understand Saint-Amour is best when Manzke is in the kitchen. Have you noticed any difference or is that more Manzke worship than anything else?

                                                I've been meaning to go but can't figure out which nights Manzke is in the kitchen.

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  i've been twice. enver asked if manzke is there or not.
                                                  enjoyed both times.

                                                  just go. if he's not there, and it sucks, doesn't make sense to go back.

                                        2. re: OC Mutt

                                          The Croque Madame is now $18.95.

                                    2. Seems to me that when a restaurant is opened under the auspices of a famous chef, the reviews should not be mixed. There should not be any so-so's, mediocre, just average comments. With rare exception, the reviews should be positive---across the board.

                                      I believe the growing trend where famous chefs attach their names to restaurants in which they do not cook is leading to a singular conclusion: rip off.

                                      In my view, Bouchon in Beverly Hills just doesn't measure up with anything that is better than mediocre. The same is true of other famous-chef establishments, Craft being a good example.

                                      Bouchon is ok, but not up to the reputation of its chef. Not even close.

                                      I've patronized too many of these famous-chef restaurants, with mediocre outcomes. Time to move on to simpler, cheaper and better alternatives. There are so many excellent local LA restaurants, where the chefs are really trying and producing good food. Why allow oneself to be ripped off?

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: Food Scrounger

                                        agree....i'm done with chain restaurants...i've been disappointed with Bouchon, Scarpetta and Craft all last year (after excellent experiences at originals).

                                        only exception in la is mozza...which really is more of a silverton restaurant than a batali joint....of course, now that it's expanding, that may be history as well.

                                        as an aside, Balthazar is not great bistro food... (at least the last two times i went), but it is decent and a lot of fun.

                                        -----
                                        Scarpetta
                                        225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                        1. re: manku

                                          I love Balthazar for its atmosphere, and I go for breakfast. Great breakfasts, great atmosphere. Transports me to Paris.

                                          As for big name chef restaurants, I'm a fan of Osteria Mozza. Like the food and the feel.

                                          -----
                                          Osteria Mozza
                                          6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                        2. re: Food Scrounger

                                          I agree, but we haven't so many great French options. I'll have to try Saint-Amour and Church and State. Frankly, I've all but given up. Like you I prefer to save my money. Places like Providence just annoy me.

                                          I went to a private party at Bouchon and Keller was there. It was astounding, the professionalism. But nothing was all that great food wise. Perfect ingredients. Much better than Bouchon Vegas, which is a disaster.

                                          It didn't make me want to go back.

                                          But I don't know where to go anymore, except to the best of the Japanese places.

                                          1. re: epop

                                            I absolutely disagree that Bouchon is mediocre. For a real treat trying going to Bar Bouchon and sit outside on the patio. They serve continuously and it is the perfect place to go at 3:30 on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

                                            Pics here:
                                            http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2011/02/...

                                            1. re: lizziee

                                              They serve the regular menu at the Bar? I ate at the Bar once, but didn't know you order off the regular menu. It was quite crowded at the Bar last Saturday. We ate upstairs and had a great lunch(brunch)!

                                              1. re: lizziee

                                                Based on a dinner two weeks ago, I would also disagree that Bouchon is "mediocre".

                                                Our dinner was perfectly executed. Started off with frisee salad, country pate and brandade followed by glazed pork belly, roast chicken with frites and braised cabbage. We declined dessert, but were treated to a few cookies and "bouchons" to take home.

                                                Service and food was impeccable plus we got to check out the kitchen which was a real treat. I've never seen anything like it; a masterpiece of organization, cleanliness and serenity.

                                                Pricey? Of course, and that isn't surprising given the location, celebrity chef, quality of ingredients, etc.

                                                Mediocre? Not a chance.

                                                1. re: vinosnob

                                                  Yeah I got the Keller tour and it is indeed a masterpiece of organization. It made sense to me why this guy is so successful. All the different stations and people he's flown in, each handling the craft, such as baking breads.

                                                  I've only been there for events and haven't sat down for a regular meal. Some time for brunch, I think.

                                              2. re: epop

                                                Just curious why "Places like Providence just annoy me".

                                                1. re: honkman

                                                  Had the full tasting menu and had very little that blew me away. In fact, several of the courses were downright dull. I prefer Coi in San Fran., for this sort of thing, a seafood tasting menu. I don't have the menu in front of me and realize that I'm not exactly
                                                  'proving my point'.

                                                  1. re: epop

                                                    You would call Coi a seafood centric restaurant ?

                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                      I do, yes, as far as the meat courses.

                                            2. I had dinner at Bouchon on Valentine’s Day. Oysters were amazing. The foie terrine with pumpernickel crust and a cornichon jelly was one of the best dishes I have ever had. The veal chateaubriand was also out of this world. And the parmesan risotto with a very healthy pile of truffle shavings as good as you would expect from something piled high with truffle shavings.

                                              I had a very good, but not spectacular, meal at Bouchon Vegas once. But my recent experience at the Beverly Hills location was anything but mediocre.

                                              1. Been twice. First time was great. Even got a tour of the extensive kitchen. Next time took a friend for a birthday and was disapointed. Steak was luke warm. Service good both times.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: BSW6490

                                                  One more for the pro-Bouchon side. Had dinner there last night for my wife's birthday. The service was impeccable and food-wise it was an outstanding experience.

                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                    Last time I went I finally tried the mac and cheese - it was superb. Also tried the Bouchons and they were excellent - warm chocolaty and silky on the inside. The prices are a bit high which I'm sure is part of some of what I consider to be the un-merited vehemence of some of reviewers pushback, (eg. yes, you get a few tiny looking Bouchons on a plate for a seemingly high price) but I think of it in terms of how much cheaper it is than a plane ticket to Paris - except the service is much much better (and nicer) here.

                                                    1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                      Mme Zoe took me for my birthday dinner a few months ago and we are still talking about the food, the service and the real joy of being in a real Frenchie spot. Love the bar too chatting to fellow Bouchon lovers.