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french for extra credit

So, I'm taking French 1 in the summer. Extra credit is to eat out at a French restaurant, lunch or dinner, and write a report. Pictures are required. Yes, chowhounding and food porn gets you extra credit.

Where should I go? I have had no prior interest in French food and practically no experience. Is there a restaurant that does the classics well (vichyssoise, cassoulet, escargots, ratatouille, etc.), but also has killer deserts? One that makes rum baba will get you extra credit, though I'll settle for tarte tatin. I've wanted to try rum baba since reading Jay Rayner's book. Also, though I'm not much of a drinker, I'd like to try kir.

So far, I've got RH, Bouchon, Church & State, and Cheval Blanc on my radar. I'll go anywhere in the LA basin. Budget is preferably around $35, but not over $50. That's a little too much.

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  1. the Little Next door seems to have a menu with some french classics for reasonable prices. Haven't visited myself.

    http://www.thelittledoor.com/lndmenu.php

    1. I'm also suggesting a place I haven't been to myself and it's Taix in Echo Park. I thought of it upon reading your post because a friend who grew up in the area says it has been around for ages and that he went there in high school because he was taking French. Looks like it fits very will into your budget as well!

      1 Reply
      1. re: crystaw

        Taix is to French food as PF Chang's is to Chinese food.

      2. how about l'epicerie? i just read that the chef from rh went there.

        5 Replies
        1. re: aizan

          Celebrate Bastille Day this Saturday at AOC with special Bastille Day Menu. That should get you extra credit.
          http://www.aocwinebar.com/AOC_Bastill...

          1. re: maudies5

            it would be neat to go to AOC on bastille day, but i'd rather not drive to 3rd street after work; i work on saturdays (ick), and i'm coming up from the south bay.

            good idea though. maybe i'll go somewhere closer on bastille day, though i'll probably go out on friday.

            1. re: maudies5

              the AOC bastille day deal does not come in at budget.

            2. re: aizan

              L'ep's/RH's chef is long gone. He's in DC now: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01...

              Mignon is doing bottomless Bastille Day for $20: http://www.facebook.com/mignonwine/po...

              1. re: TonyC

                is l'epicerie any worse for his absence?

            3. What fun! My favorite french bistro is Madame Chou Chou. You have to sit on the patio to get the full experience. they owners are french, your waitress is from Paris, the desserts are KILLER and the decor is so adorably french chic (on the patio). I adore l'epicure and the food is really great. I would not go somewhere whose name doesn't sound french (Church & State) or somewhere owned by a famous American chef (thomas keller's bouchon isn't actually French) RH is good. Meet bistro in culver city is a good value (Also, depending if you can wait til next week you can combine with Dine LA for a good deal.)

              1. For classic, old school French fare (gratinee, canard a'lorange, escargot, coq au vin) that won't break the bank, head to La Vie on San Gabriel Blvd. in Rosemead. I kid you not.

                I can't find a website for the restaurant, but here's a menu link:
                http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/5-lo...

                Details:

                2547 San Gabriel Blvd
                Ste A
                Rosemead, CA 91770
                (626) 571-1180

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I'm sticking with my recommendation. Extra credit for Bastille Day celebration:)

                2. Madison Giraud, in the Palisades.

                  1. Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega is reliable for French

                    http://www.lepetitbistro.us

                    1. Le Petit Cafe
                      2842 Colorado Ave
                      Santa Monica
                      310 829-6792
                      http://www.lepetitcafebonjour.com/

                      1. Hmm...that's a good question. There used to be more options, but a lot of the surviving "French bistro"-style restaurants have evolved/devolved into Cal-French or Cal-French-Italian-Whatever.

                        If you can stretch your budget a little for a good meal, Comme Ca has a bistro-inspired menu that includes a 3 course "bistronomy" dinner for $45.

                        Otherwise, I second the person who said Maison Giraud. Also, Cafe Pierre in Manhattan Beach is a solid restaurant that still has some French classics in the mix. Lastly, I haven't eaten at La Poubelle in about 15 years, but its still there and still French.

                        Bon Appetit. :)

                        1. I've eaten at RH at the Andaz, Bouchon, Church & State, Soleil, The Little Door, La Cachette, Maison Giraud, Melisse, etc., and they can all qualify as adequate for your French assignment.

                          BUT I think for the purposes of your assignment, your best bet is to go to a little hole-in-the-wall French eatery called Ratata on Westwood Blvd. The owners (a cute French couple from the Montmartre, Paris) are very cordial, and will explain the food to you. Also, I found the food to be very, very good. I'd recommend the Boeuf Bourgignon (beef stew) and the Hachis Parmentier (potato cheese casserole). Ask them if they make you a coq au vin (chicken in wine).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: J.L.

                            Ratata will fit your budget nicely.

                          2. Le Dijonaise in Culver City is very reasonable French and they have most of the classics...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: film_score

                              Respectfully disagree, Le Dijoinaise is not quality. They serve canned tuna and canned olives on their "niciose" salad. So many better options.

                              1. re: sarahbeths

                                canned (or jarred) tuna is supposed to be in a nicoise salad.

                            2. is your $50 budget INCLUDING tax, tip, dessert, and beverage?
                              or is it $50 BEFORE tax, tip, dessert, and beverage?

                              9 Replies
                                1. re: aizan

                                  You can definitely stay within your budget at my earlier suggestion, La Vie.

                                  1. re: aizan

                                    If you go at lunch, you have more options. highly push Madame Chou Chou, they even serve their coffee in these big glass bowls they way my french friend grew up drinking coffee. She had never seen that anywhere else in the US before.

                                    1. re: sarahbeths

                                      their website doesn't show a lunch menu, or am i not looking in the right place?

                                      1. re: aizan

                                        Hmm, that's funny. But they definitely have lunch, i've been! I guess it's similar to the "brunch menu" if you scroll down on their website. Fewer options, but salads, sandwiches and things like croque madame, a few other specials, and free delicious bread. I mentioned how good the desserts are? My favorite is the raspberry pistacchio cake.

                                        1. re: sarahbeths

                                          well, i'm gonna have to go to madame chou chou someday to try the dessert. i went to l'epicerie on bastille day and it was pretty good, but dessert was just so-so. i drank a glass of kir and i'm a real lightweight so i ordered the créme brûlée instead of rum baba. with the lemon rind and all of that caramelized sugar, it was too bitter for my taste. the duck confit was great though, and i enjoyed the kir a little too much. surprise, surprise. it was good!

                                          1. re: raizans

                                            oops, forgot the pics.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: raizans

                                              Thanks for reporting back! With pictures!

                                        2. re: sarahbeths

                                          You can get coffee in a bowl at Le Zinque in Venice.