Bouchon, a Thomas Keller restaurant
In downtown Beverly Hills, sharing a beautiful park with the Montage (hotel), the newest luxury property in Beverly Hills, Bouchon is both a bakery and bistro. In romantic French style with tall ceilings, the décor includes Parisian street lights, white tablecloths, romantic ivory lace curtains, dark wood around ivory walls with an olive hue, distressed mirrors and an elaborate mosaic tiled floor. Bouchon is a Thomas Keller restaurant.
The menu changes every 2 weeks and almost weekly during the summer as the concept is the celebration of neighbouring farmers or produce. On my visit it’s the season for wild ramps, most are pickled and added to dishes like the sweet shrimp salad with baby heirloom tomatoes and rocket. More ramps are pureed into sauces, made into marmalade or minced and worked into delicious cavatelli served with English peas and pecorino cheese.
They are offering a special 4-course Wild Ramp menu ($75) and there is a recommended glass of wine for each course (additional $35). I ordered the shrimp and ramp salad with heirloom baby tomatoes and tart pickled ramps. The flavours are light and bright with crisp spring textures.
There is not a lot of complexity to the dishes at Bouchon, but perfection here is seen as the simplest of culinary pleasures. My entrée is herb roasted rack of Salmon Creek Farm Pork Chop with ramp marmalade and walnut sable. I look across at the next table and they’re nibbling on a selection of cheeses garnished with delicious pickled ramps. They’re everywhere tonight.
Jon ordered the Gigot d’Agneau, roasted leg Pokies of lamb with eggplant, tomato fondue, crispy panisse and lamb jus ($33). It’s a warm, rich dinner with dark flavours that layer to please a hearty palate.
Bouchon the restaurant is on the second floor. Patrons walk through the bakery on the first floor, past the loaves of crusty French baguettes, billowy meringues and sexy lemon curd tarts. It gets you thinking of dessert even before the meal begins.
My pick for dessert is the Tarte au Citron ($9.50), a lemon tart that is more like a citrus cloud, so light on the palate and full of sweet and tart flavour. Perfect for the end of a meal drenched in gastronomy.
The chef sent over 2 more desserts. One called Bouchon (after the Swiss Bouchon, chocolate in the shape of corks). These look more like mini cupcakes than corks, but on the palate they’re dense, velvety chocolate that turn to thick ganache on the tongue. It’s accompanied with rich vanilla mint ice cream that refreshes against the dense chocolate. I am no match for this decadence and I find myself moderating my intention of moderation. The second dessert was a pot au pistachio crème. If I were not more than satisfied with my chocolate Bouchon, I would have swooned over the luscious, creamy pistachio heaven in a tiny little pot – perhaps another day.
My dinner ran late into the evening and the pictures didn’t turn out well in the dark. You’re just going to have to use your imagination and salivate over this one. Here are a few more of my fantastic dining finds.