Bouchon

Steak frites

Mussels

Interior

Pate

**** (4 stars)

There are three Bouchons at this location and Google maps, for one, is very confused about that. The Bouchon Bakery is a counter serve and Bar Bouchon offers downstairs patio seating on the park. But the real Bouchon is upstairs, and offers a brasserie-like atmosphere plus outdoor balcony seating.

The menu is similar to Las Vegas, but not to Santa Barbara. A bouchon is a cafe typical in Lyon that focuses on meat-based dishes, and that is the case here. The French classics are all exceptionally well prepared, from mussels to onion soup, pate to salade Lyonnaise.

As is typical in France, the meal begins with bread served on the paper table covering. Be sure to order something to use the wonderful pot of mustard on; there’s nothing like pate and genuine Dijon on fresh crusty French bread.

Service is professional yet friendly.

This is actually one of my favorite of Keller’s restaurants. I even like it better than Per Se. The only negative is that the room has no acoustic treatment at all, and even when half empty it is very loud.

Bouchon
235 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 271-9910
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bouchon-beverly-hills-4

Ladurée Beverly Hills

Breakfast

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I’ve never been a fan of macarons, so I was pleased to see that this Ladurée, which looks like a confectioner’s shop, serves the full range of authentic Ladurée croissants. I was also pleased to discover they are just as good as the ones in Paris. The plain is still the best, with the pain au chocolat and the rose coming in second and third.

What’s not as good as Paris is the coffee. It’s just typical American coffee. Perhaps a double espresso would be better, but I was hoping for authentic French coffee. No such luck.

If you’ve been to the Ladurée in Paris on the Champs Elysee, or the original one on the Place de la Madeleine, this one is a sort of cross between the two. It’s certainly much larger than the one at Harrod’s in London.

The service was fast and friendly, and with just enough of a French accent to whet the taste buds.

Ladurée serves hot items for breakfast, too, but of course the emphasis is on the baked goods. And the case of macarons.

Ladurée Beverly Hills
311 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 623-1100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ladur%C3%A9e-beverly-hills-beverly-hills-2

Tetsuya’s

Chocolate cakr

Wagyu beef

Chicken

Bass grouper

Confit of trout

Kingfish

Scampi

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is my favorite restaurant in Sydney. It’s far better than the other Michelin starred places, and is beautiful and sophisticated without being stuffy.

The tasting menu focuses on fish, but only one course is typically raw, so it’s not to be confused with a traditional Japanese omakase. They are doing their own thing here.

The signature dish, trout, is probably the best course, but everything I’ve had has been excellent.

The wine list is extensive, although there are no bargains.

Tetsuya’s
529 Kent St
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 9267 2900
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tetsuyas-sydney

Pierre

Amuse bouche

Crab

Snails and mushrooms

Gambas

Grouse

Cheese

Grand dessert

** (2 stars)

Pierre offers a lovely room with a great ambiance and view. It’s the kind you’d expect to find in a top rated restaurant. Unfortunately, the view is about the only thing that is top rated about it.

At a price equal to or above the nearby Amber and l’Atelier, it’s hard to imagine anyone returning to Pierre for a second visit. The six-course tasting meal we had was, frankly, poor. There wasn’t a single stand-out course, and no one in our party had more than a taste of the grouse entree, which had a very unpleasant bitter taste. Mine even still had a piece of lead birdshot in it.

They’ve tried to make up in quantity what they lack in quality, with a half dozen small plates bearing amuse bouche at the start, and another half dozen plates of dessert at the end. But not one of them was truly good. It’s as if they’re firing scattershot, to see if they can hit anything.

Service was also hit or miss, with the wine list not even offered until the food began showing up, and empty water glasses sitting for long stretches of time.

At about $10,000HKD for our party of three’s food alone, this must be one of the worst buys in the city. And the wine prices are just as unreasonable.

Pierre
25/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central
干諾道中5號香港文華東方酒店25樓
+852 2825 4001
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pierre-%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF-2

Amber

Interior

Amuse bouche taste: sour

Amuse bouche taste: salty (oyster leaf)

Amuse bouche tastes: bitter and sweet

Caviar tart

Tomatoes

Langoustina

Octopus

Foie gras

Brill

A5 Wagu

Kabocha pumpkin and lemon sorbet

Solies figs

Chocolate

Petit fours

***** (5 stars)

Often I find myself at odds with Michelin’s rankings, but not this time. Amber is an exquisite restaurant, with food, service and wine that all deserve the acclaim they’ve received.

The ten-course tasting menu was spot on, with every course (and the many unbilled amuse bouche and petit four bites) all scoring high marks.

The accompanying six-wine Burgundy pairing was the most educational wine pairing I’ve ever encountered. What a treat to be able to compare, side by side:
Bourgogne Rose
Chablis “Les Clos”
Chassagne-Montrachet
Puligny-Montrachet
Meursault
Nuits-St-Georges
Gevrey-Chambertin

We also started with a bottle of Taittinger Le Comtes Champagne

The wine list is one of the best I’ve encountered, well organized, and with a range of prices.

Service was professional yet not stiff, and everyone was obviously very proud of their fine restaurant.

Amber
7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 11-19A Queen’s Road Central
皇后大道中11-19A號置地文華東方酒店7樓
+852 2132 0066
https://www.yelp.com/biz/amber-%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF

Marché Artisan Foods

Croissant French toast

Quiche

Chocolate croissant

Brunch menu August 2017

Kitchen

Interior, brunch crowd

**** (4 stars)

We stopped here on the way from the airport, and it was worth the detour. They serve a very good brunch.

The Croissant French toast is good, but maybe not quite as good as it looks in all the pictures. Croissants tend to be a bit hard to tear apart, which isn’t necessarily what you want in French toast. But the accompanying maple syrup was great, and I’m glad I ordered the delicious bacon to go with it.

The quiche and the chocolate croissant were two other things we sampled that were good. And the coffee drinks are excellent, with lots of options for preparation, flavors and type of milk.

Be aware that Sunday Brunch is really popular, right up until closing time, so there will be a wait, and it will be noisy.

Marché Artisan Foods
1000 Main St
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 262-1111
http://www.yelp.com/biz/march%C3%A9-artisan-foods-nashville-2

Chez Filet

Quiche

Lobster bites

Bread service with complimentary butter and pate

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is an intimate (12 tables or less) restaurant in the plaza off I-Drive north of the Orlando Eye.

As the name implies, the concept here is French/steakhouse. They are striving for fine dining, but it’s not quite at that level. Certainly the service is outstandingly solicitous, but it’s clear most of the staff is unfamiliar with the level to which the management aspires. So while many servers asked repeatedly if we needed anything, it was more obtrusive than helpful. Coupled with an offer of dessert before our main courses were served, it was a bit disjointed. Still, their hearts are in the right place, and experience will iron out these problems.

The food, too, strives but doesn’t always succeed. For starters we had the quiche and the lobster bites. The quiche was a nice, small, thin tartlet that made a good appetizer, as it wasn’t too filling. The lobster bites were essentially an escargot preparation, but using generous chunks of lobser instead of snails. The garlic butter was delicious, but the method of preparation of course leaves the lobster very, very well done.

We also had a small Caesar salad and onion soup. The Caesar was good, and at $5 was emblematic of the extremely reasonable pricing. Where else in town can you get a Caesar salad for that price? The onion soup was the only thing we had that really wasn’t good. It looked like a traditional preparation, but the consistency was more like gravy, and not very appealing in taste, either.

Main courses are also very reasonably priced, particularly considering they include two side dishes of your choice. I thought my companion’s New York steak was a bit tough, but she enjoyed it. The accompanying Chico’s sauce had a nice mustard base. I had the fish special, a corvina, which was delicate and nicely prepared. The home run of the evening was actually the Angel Onions, thin onion straws that were battered and perfectly crisped.

Photos of the place don’t do it justice, as the interior decor is stunning, although it would be better with lower light levels.

And as I’ve mentioned, the prices are extremely reasonable, particularly given the tourist area that surrounds it.

Chez Filet
8255 International Dr
Ste 144A
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 250-4090
https://www.yelp.com/biz/chez-filet-orlando

Brindille

Vicchysoisse

Beef tartare

Quail

Scallop

Lobster

Veal

Lamb

Strawberries and hazlenut

**** (4 stars)

This is a very fine restaurant that is doing most everything right. The chef’s eight-course tasting menu, which is available on request, is the way to go here. It’s assembled to match your tastes, and is a great way to experience the menu’s highlights.

Each course was beautifully presented. The only truly amazing one was the vichyssoise, but everything else was quite good, and the price was reasonable for the quality.

Service was informative and attentive, and the secondary service staff were particularly efficient at delivering and clearing.

Brindille has one of the better wine lists in town, at a reasonable markup of about twice retail. It’s heavy on quality French wines, and bears a bit of research before your visit to be truly rewarded.

Brindille
534 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 595-1616
http://www.yelp.com/biz/brindille-chicago

DoveCote Brasserie

***** (5 stars)

Downtown Orlando has long been in need of a great French restaurant, and at last there is one. We attended a soft opening lunch with high expectations, and were not disappointed. Even though the restaurant was full, the kitchen was turning out hit after hit, and service was both friendly and professional.

The space is the former Harveyr’s bistro in the bottom of the B of A, but it has been remodeled to give it a modern brasserie feel. In addition to several inside areas, there’s also outside seating. The best addition is free valet parking, right outside the side door, which solves a major downtown dining problem.

We had an opportunity to sample much of the lunch menu, and loved most of what we tried.

Chicken Liver pate was very traditional, with the coating of duck fat on top to seal it into its jar. The highlight of this dish was actually the grilled toast, which was perfectly and authentically done in the brasserie style.

This same wonderful toast accompanied the even better pork terrine, which came with a wonderful house-made mustard.

Carrot soup was a thick, cold concoction poured over cooked shrimp. We heard good things about it, but none of us cared for it, possibly due to some flawed sesame seeds that were sprinkled on top.

French onioin soup was much better, completely traditional, maybe a bit sweet for my taste, but with a rich oxtail broth and plenty of gruyere cheese. The horseradish mentioned on the menu may have added complexity, but wasn’t detectable.

I loved both of the salads we tried. The frisee salad was non-traditional, with a curry dressing and toasted macadamias rather than the traditional egg. It was really exotic. The other salad wasn’t the simple green salad described on the menu, but a delicious concoction involving beets, radish and greens with a vinaigrette and superb crunchy sunflower seed granola.

We shared a DC Burger as another starter. What a great piece of ground breef! It was tender, flavorful, juicy, had a nice char, and was cooked a perfect medium. The mayonnaise-based sauce was excellent but not mentioned in the menu description.

For mains we tried the butter roasted chicken, red snapper, and yellowfin tuna burger. These were all good, but perhaps not quite as good as what came before.

The snapper was certainly the best, with a great crust, and accompanied by very flavorful quinoa.

The chicken was pleasant, but not remarkable, however chef substituted ratatouille for the fingerling potatoes at our request, and it was absolutely great. This should go on the menu by itself!

The tuna burger was not at all what I expected, as it seemed more like a lamb burger due to the way it was ground and the heavy inclusion of cumin in the patty. That said, I really enjoyed it.

A tempura mushroom side dish was nicely cooked, but probably would be better with a different vegetable.

The creme brulee was as good as any I’ve ever had, served at the perfect temperature of slightly warm, with a soft texture, strong vanilla flavor, and a crackly crust.

Milk sherbet with peaches was another winner.

The accompanying espresso was also perfectly done, served in an odd little shot glass, with a nice crema, and just enough bitterness to offset the sweet desserts. This espresso makes me want to go back for breakfast.

In addition to all this great food, there is an even greater wine list, with the best wine pricing of any restaurant in town. Selected by Kristopher Soto, the general manager here, who used to be the sommelier for the sadly missed Vineyard at The Ritz Carlton, the wine price to performance ratio is unmatched anywhere in town. You can get any number of great bottles for well under $100. These wines are literally twice the price at other restaurants in Orlando.

With Clayton Miller as the head chef, Gene Zimmerman, who is behind the Courtesy speakeasy bar, heading the bar, and James Petrakis, the owner of Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, as a consulting partner, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this is a great restaurant. But for it to be this good the day before opening is pretty amazing. May it live long and prosper.

DoveCote Brasserie
390 North Orange Ave
Ste 110
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 930-1700
https://www.yelp.com/biz/dovecote-orlando-3

Bistronomic

***** (5 stars)

This bistro serves authentic French bistro food in a modern decor or a pleasant covered outside dining area.

The early evening three course prix fixe menu is an excellent deal, and includes so of the best menu selections.

Duck confit was perfectly crisped, served with a lightly dressed frisee salad.

Salmon was perfectly browned and served over some marvelous vegetables.

Two classic desserts round out the prix fixe menu.

The wine list focuses on affordable French wines, with a limited selection by the glass.

Service was friendly and efficient.

While the ambiance is not traditional, of the French bistros in River North, this is my favorite for food.

Bistronomic
840 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 944-8400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/bistronomic-chicago