Bouchon Bistro, Yountville, CA

  On 1/12/2016 at 6:17 PM, DonRocks said:

The Bouchon in Yountville has *terrific* bread – they serve epi with perfectly salted butter, yum.


Dinner at Bouchon last night was very good while falling short of outstanding (which is what you should normally expect at a Bistro or Brasserie, but having the seasoning somewhat “off” at a Thomas Keller restaurant hurts more than it normally does, especially when it’s *so* easily correctable).

The two-tops against the entrance wall are close enough together where you could eavesdrop if you wanted to, but also far enough apart so that you don’t feel scrunched up against your neighbor.

The 2015 Triennes Rosé a pale, dry Rosé from Provence, sold at $10 a glass, is made from primarily, if not all, Cinsault. The bottle itself reveals a more precise location of being from the Department of the Var (there’s a sneaky way to tell this just from codes written on the bottle), so this wine – which might be a Côteaux Varois (and they make wonderful Rosé there) - retails for something around $13 per bottle, and sells on the list for $40, or about triple-retail:

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And it was triple-retail that I happily paid, because this is fine example of a pale, bone-dry Rosé from the Southeast of France – at $40, even if they’re making $30+ on every bottle they sell, it’s a good wine to get here, as it goes with a very wide variety of dishes – it served us throughout the entire meal (which actually turned out to be very simple and small in terms of number-of-courses).

Before the meal, we were brought (to our surprise) some roasted pistachios, in shell, which were served alongside the always-tremendous epi – the classic “stalk of wheat” variation on the classic baguette. The bread and butter at Bouchon has always flirted with simple perfection, and so it was on this evening; the pistachios seemed unnecessary and almost odd, although we certainly had the option not to eat them.

We’d planned on getting some apps, maybe splitting an entrée, having some cheese, and maybe splitting a dessert, but after having the chicken at Kinship, my dining companion wanted to try it here, and our delightful neighbor (on my right) had the leg of lamb, and enthusiastically extolled its virtues, so we dove straight into the main courses:

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Poulet Rôti ($29.75) is served atop Petits Pois à la Française and chicken jus, and is (according to our server) par-roasted before dinner service, then finished to-order in the oven, the second step taking about twenty minutes. It must surely be brined or injected, because the deepest part of the breast meat was delightfully moist and perfectly salted – it just could not have been any better, and this is what was on the very top, so diners tend to eat it first. We were both fighting over the breast meat, which is probably one of the most difficult things to cook well. Unfortunately, there is often a white meat – dark meat sacrifice, and so it was with this half-chicken: The dark meat was simply too salty – not to the point of being inedible, but to the point where it was too salty, and there was no doubt about it. However, with the mildly seasoned Petits Pois, it added some salt to an arguably undersalted (but otherwise fantastic) side dish. Salt issues aside, this was a *fine* example of roast chicken, and one which I will gladly order again in the future.

Gigot d’Agneau ($35) was four cuts from a cylinder, stacked atop one another, and served in a bowl on top of lots of chickpeas, a trivial amount of piquillo peppers, some spring onions, and lamb jus. The salting issue here was easily fixed: the lamb was slightly undersalted, and all I needed to do was ask my server for a little sea salt, add a single scoop evenly distributed over all four rounds, and the lamb instantly went from being very good to excellent. If you don’t really like chickpeas, you should think twice about this dish, because there are a lot of them, but they were well-cooked, well-seasoned, and lent a North African flavor to the lamb, which was otherwise not really a North African dish. Although both of us preferred the chicken, both of us also enjoyed the lamb, and depending on your personal preferences, you could have flipped a coin between these two dishes.

I hate to be a simpleton, but after these two entrées, we were pretty well stuffed, and just didn’t really want any cheese or dessert – we weren’t starving to begin with, and these entrées were hefty enough to do the trick. A good showing once again for Bouchon, a restaurant that I’ve now been to several times, and which I have consistently enjoyed.

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