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La Cachette, a disappointment

I went for Christmas dinner last night, and I wasn't really impressed.
The food was decent enough, but the atmosphere was really lacking. There was nothing really French about this restaurant.
The bread was not a French bread, although it was warm.
The sauce on the Veal Sweetbreads was lacking flavor depth. I would have appreciated a little more contrast with the richness of the sweetbreads.
Following this appetizer, i had the cassoulet.
Although the meat was tender, it was lacking in flavor.
The tomatoes in the heirloom tomato salad were rock hard.
Overall, the food was just uninspiring.
Service was good, although as I said, the atmosphere was lacking.
There were children crying, and they were playing the same Christmas songs that I'd heard in the Westside Pavilion earlier that day.
C'est la premiere et la dernière fois.

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La Cachette Bistro
1733 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401

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  1. la cachette bistro is on my regular rotation and, obviously, i truly enjoy the place and the food they serve me.
    that said, i don't order any of the items you mentioned (i would never order anything with fresh tomato in it in the middle of winter), and i've never seen children there in all the times i've gone.

    i enjoy their bouillabaisse and their ahi tuna tartar regularly.

    my daughter very much enjoys their Steak Friteswith Garlic Butter and Pepper Sauce.

    their cheeses are good too, but truthfully, i try to get to Fig for my cheese fix because Fig has a much larger variety and, imho, the cheeses at Fig are more likely to be perfectly ripe (to my palate.)

    the desserts i've had at La Cachette have been better than terrific, especially their Floating Island With Hazelnut Pistachio Almond Nougatine And Caramel.

    gotta agree about the bread. for good bread, go to Fig.

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      Sorry. I'm French, maybe my standards are a little too high.

    2. I liked them better for some reason at their old location on Little Santa Monica Blvd.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        the prices at the old location, irrc, were higher (at least, the total bills that i racked up there while on expense account were higher than the ones that i rack up in santa monica), so it would stand to reason that the food would be better.

        since i have been sans expense account for years now,
        at this point, i'm thrilled that they offer the quality and quality that is being offered in santa monica at a price level that i can afford on a regular basis.

        i'm not complaining.

        also, to adrousault:
        given the migratory patterns of the french (i.e. California was not the state to receive any sizable amount of french migration), imho, we're damned lucky to have something in southern california that is this good.

        1. re: westsidegal

          I suppose that's a fair way of looking at it.

          The old La Cachette definitely had a more formal feel about it, a sort of little sister to Melisse. The new iteration definitely lives up to its new name of "bistro" I guess.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks for giving me perspective.
            I moved to LA relatively recently.

            1. re: adrouault

              keep in mind, as you explore the food universe of LA, that we have had substantial immigration from the south and from the west (asia).

      2. I think you are better off sticking to small plates at La Cachette. The fried oysters and the foie gras on macaroons are among the best restaurant dishes I have had anywhere in the last couple of years. There is no way that either of those two dishes could be characterized as uninspiring. Rather, magnificent and perfect come to mind.

        I agree that the bread is awful and that the atmosphere isn't the best. I think the place would be more popular if they redesigned the room. The room just doesn't have a good vibe aesthetically.

        2 Replies
        1. re: omotosando

          If I may say, it doesn't have any vibe at all.

          1. re: adrouault

            Just avoid Cachette altogether.
            In the previous location, JFM managed to create a way to make asparagus soup taste green, yet made the asparagus disappear!
            Magician, maybe, but chef, well.....

        2. I heard today that they're now closed.

          10 Replies
          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            I just called and no one answers the phone and they are offline on Open Table, so this sounds right. I can't say I'm surprised. The times I went on a Sunday night, they were near empty and they were offering discounts on their food weeknights after 9:00 p.m., which is never a good sign.

            Probably a combination of the economy, the very competitive Santa Monica dining market, a somewhat out-of-the-way location and an uninviting space killed them. I'll miss free corkage Sundays.

            1. re: omotosando

              i'm going to miss their tuna tartar, their bouillabaisse, their frites (the best i've ever tasted), and their floating island dessert

            2. Thanks, adroualt. I was never impressed with La Cachette. I always had the impression that the chef was preparing french food the way he perceived Southern Californians would like it. The great French restaurant (RIP) was L'Orangerie. Many of the great chefs in So Cal earned their stripes at L'Orangerie, working the line, or as garde manger. Nearly every great chef in Los Angeles worked in that kitchen. When looking at a chef's resume, check and see if that chef worked at L'Orangerie.

              1. re: maudies5

                When will we get confirmation if La Cachette is closed?

                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                    Great!
                    I now have .a slightly greater amount of respect for the LA food world.

                    1. re: adrouault

                      I don't think the closing of La Cachetter says a thing, one way or the other, about the quality of the restaurant.

                      The truth is that it's hard to make money in the restaurant business and tons of good restaurants go out of business every day, while some mediocre restaurants thrive.

                      Plus, I think your undisguised glee and Schadenfreude about someone losing his business is, frankly, a little over the top based on a single meal that you found unsatisfying.

                      The La Cachette foie gras macaroons and fried oysters were among the best restaurant dishes I have eaten anywhere over the last few years. And unless a chef had poisoned me, I would feel sympathy for anyone losing their business in this economy.

                        1. re: omotosando

                          > based on a single meal that

                          Particularly one week before they closed for good. They may not have already decided to close at that point, but I have to think the writing must have been on the wall, and that probably had an impact on your experience.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            completely concur with omotosando on all points AND to point out that many, many, of the menu items that omotosando didn't mention were absolutely terrific as well.