Friday, November 12, 2010

Bouchon Bistro - my Restaurant Adventure

After test frying a few batches of Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe by Chef Thomas Keller,  I decided to go to the true source to compare mine with - at Ad Hoc Restaurant (Chef Thomas Keller's) in Yountville, California.  It was a beautiful sunny day, a perfect day to drive out to Napa country.  I made it there in a good time - arrived at 3 pm.  Ad Hoc Restaurant is not open till 5 pm.  Of course, I strolled down the street and reached Bouchon Bakery (Again! yes!).  I was right, they have fresh Croissants and more baguettes and epi baguettes and a few other pastry and breads that were sold out at noon time already when I came the last time.   Well, I couldn't just look.  I bought 4 Croissants, two Chocolate Bouchons, 1 baguette, 1 epi baguette, 1 lemon tart (even though I already had it the last time - it is soooo good - I got to have it!), 1 pistachio macaron, 1 raspberry macaron.  $30.25 worth.
Then, I was really really hungry, as I have nothing to eat since morning for this visit's purpose to dine at the Ad Hoc.  I changed my mind and bravery stepped into Bouchon.  (Why bravery?  because I don't normally step into any restaurant without my friend's or family's recommendation.  I don't like the risk.)  I seated first at the bar, but felt awkward with all the breads and pastries, etc.  So I changed to the table.   I was surprised that I got the table.  According to, there are nothing available for reservation today.  As far as my eyes can see, there are many open tables at that moment. 

They serve the epi baguette with butter and I think it was wasabi mustard.  Cool.  I love bread.
I ordered Salade de Champignons - Roasted wild mushrooms, pickled radishes, young lettuces, Dungeoness crab glacage. $14.    I don't remember seeing the lettuces in my plate.  I was not quite sure if the creamy egg mixture at the bottom of my plate had crab pieces... glacage.  Not much distinction. Mushrooms tasted fresh.  If you spoon the cream glacage and pickled radishes slices 'together'  and mushrooms at its end, then, voila, the tanginess of pickled radish slices brought out the mushroom flavors.   I never had 'roasted' mushrooms before, but I did not find that "Wow! that's what roasted mushroom taste like" kind of feeling.   I think if they are drizzled with some sort of -- just even a bit of butter with tangy, concentrated lemon / lime 'something' would brought out their natural wild flavor. Or if the glacage had a bit more kick instead of tasting like .... bland scrambled eggs... that was my thought at the first bite.  I didn't seem to have the feeling of "that's what crab glacage taste like" of impression... had to think about it after each bite --where is the Dungeoness crab glacage taste? too bad.  But I ate it all. 

Then, main - Plat Principaux - Steak Frites - 10-oz pan-seared prime flatiron, caramelized shallots, maitre d'hotel butter, French fries.  For some reason, the menu brought me back the memory about the steak I ate at the French athletic club in Saigon, South Viet-Nam.  My friend is one of the 'elite' families and had access to resorts and what not.  For fun, both of us ordered the steak with french fries.  So I ordered Steak Frites - medium well.  It is covered with caramelized shallots and very tasty butter.  The meat is tender, not over salted like ... Sizzler's.  I was contemplating to ask for the steak sauce, but I held back to let my palate just enjoy its natural taste. (I knew I should not had eaten those spicy food two days in a row - it has weakened my taste buds.)  As I cut in, it started to turn pink and pinker - it turned out to be medium.  They were more than happy to cook it again for me.  I was surprised, when they brought it back that it was on a clean plate.  And as for the half eaten steak, it looked like a brand new steak.  French fries were fresh, too. 
Then, I ordered Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce to end the dining.  I thought it's one profiterole with ... but it's enough to serve three people.  But, I ate the whole thing.  (Shouldn't have, though, but can't doggy bag ice-cream home.)  The Bouchon Bistro is a relaxing casual place - as named "Bistro" with jazz or music from the 60's or even 40's. I am not good at recognizing music, but I like to listen to music while I eat, so that's a plus.  The guests at the bar are talking to other guests and laughing and exchanging news and day's events.... friendly.  I am glad I stepped in.  After the dinner, on my way back to the car, I stopped by at the Ad Hoc Restaurant to check it out.  It has wood furniture theme.... don't depend on my description. ... I don't know anything about interior design nor can I give good description, but they are dark walnut color furniture.  As you step in, a few feet behind the hostess' podium, there is a long family size table for ..10 on left side.  The bar is to the right with about 10 seats. . . that's where I would have been sitting if I had arrived at 5 pm.  It was a fully booked evening (according to the hostess when I called or, but I would not have minded sitting at the bar.  There are smaller tables all around the main dining area.  They are playing the similar jazz music as at Bouchon Bistro.  I asked the hostess about the Buttermilk Fried Chicken because I noticed the menu they posted on Monday is what they are serving today on Thursday which means what they post on Monday is the menu for the whole week.  I thought they change it every day, but it's not so (?)  They serve the buttermilk fried chickens every other Mondays and the next one is on November 15th.   I think I will let my body rest a while before I return, however.  My body is just not used to all these 'fine' dining.  Back to YOGA...

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