Bouchon, this one lovely word makes my mouth water. I’ve only been to this Thomas Keller establishment twice now, but man do I love it. Bouchon opened in 1998 in Yountville, Ca (in the heart of Napa Valley) and is just down the street from Keller’s flagship world famous French Laundry (a place I dream to eat at someday). Keller is the only American born chef to hold three Michelin Stars at two restaurants. Hey that’s enough of a history lesson on this acclaimed chef, if you want to learn more do what I did and check out Wikipedia. Now let’s get onto the divine food I had.
The wife and I had a double date last weekend and made an earlyish reservation for the four of us. Yountville can be a bit of a trek, even from the East Bay. It’s only about 40 miles from our house but traffic on a two lane road can make it take a long time sometimes. In this case we were pleasantly surprised a quick 45 minutes and we were here. Because we were so early, we got a chance to walk around and do some shopping first and just soak in the late Spring evening. Once eventually walked into the restaurant and were still 20 minutes early, and expected to hang out at the bar, but were immediately seated. I didn’t expect that.
A French bistro at heart Bouchon, is small and intimate with tables close together and a lot of action surrounds you. Don’t get me wrong the atmosphere is fabulous, but if you’re looking for a quiet spot to enjoy a well-paced meal, you’ll get the well-paced, just not the quiet. The décor is classic with smaller bistro chairs, tables and tile floors.
We started out with two loafs of their amazing house bread, shaped like Bird Of Paradise plant I think. Frankly I’m not sure what they looked like but it was good.
Even in the Napa valley, you can still get a good cocktail, in my case a Kentucky Mule. Sure they have what I assume is an amazing wine menu, it was a gigantic double sided wine list but since I have no wine skills and I love the Bullitt better, I had to go with what makes me happy. In case you’ve never had a Moscow or Kentucky Mule a proper restaurant or bar serves them in a very very cold copper glass super cool presentation, and it sure keeps the drink cold.
I started out with the French Onion Soup. It was incredibly rich and had the most amazing broth I really enjoyed it, and if it weren’t for the steak frits I was having for dinner I could have possibly stopped there. Yeah right. My favorite part of French Onion, is the cheesy gruyere. It’s melty goodness is what I long for and in this case it sure didn’t disappoint.
For dinner I had a Filet and truffle frits with béarnaise. Sorry fans I didn’t snap a picture of the béarnaise, which by-the-way is the most divine béarnaise I’ve ever had. It was the perfect amount of salty, creamy and lemony that a perfect béarnaise has, and complimented the filet perfectly. Hail hail the mighty Béarnaise. The filet was a perfect medium rare and the truffle frits were perfectly crispy and when I dipped them into the Béarnaise damn was it goooooood (no that was not a typo). Seriously, that goooooood.
For the finale, I had the desert special, which consisted of warm brownie bites, malt ice cream, caramelized bananas and a vanilla crème anglaise. The brownie bites are a standard desert item, but they don’t come with any of the extras on the desert special. Let me just start out by saying that if I had left without desert I would have said this was a five star meal, but leaving without desert would have been a mortal sin. Because this item just made the meal complete. It was the perfect amount of warm brownie with bananas and ice cream, it kicked ass. It was just the right amount of sweet for desert.
Buchon was the perfect date for us, we had a great time with friends, excellent food and really great atmosphere. The staff do a great job to make sure you’re taken care of, and that you get a great meal. They really are there for you, and that made for a wonderful meal. On this particular visit the only complaint I had was that our server was just ok, the rest of the service team was top notch though. Did he mess up on any of the order? No. Did we wait too long for our meals? No. What was the issue? He was just ok, nothing special and I just feel at a place like this where you can only make a reservation 60 days in advance and you pay a pretty penny for an amazing meal that the service has a huge part in the meal. Again the rest of the staff and the meal pacing were great, and we were not rushed. Regardless of the one server and one visit, this place is great, and if you get a chance to make it to Napa Valley, be sure to visit Buchon.