Breaking Bouchon. An experience in extravagance.
Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s Michelin starred restaurant in beautiful Yountville. It is a restaurant written about, talked about, and it has cookbooks. What it also has is 80 seats that will serve around 250 guests in a single service.
This place is packed but what you feel here is care. The waiters care about serving you, the chefs want to please. So much so that they’re willing to let a couple of rowdy foodies into their kitchen to check out the well oiled machine that is Bouchon.
It’s a lovely day in picturesque Yountville. This town practically smiles at you with it’s lush gardens and friendly people. We are quickly seated outside and we start rifling through the menu. The sommelier Woody pops over and introduces himself. Well there is a man who loves his job. He was practically beaming just to see us enjoying the place. We haven’t even ordered yet. This is true hospitality at its finest. Now to food.
We start with an assortment of entrées; a tarte flambée, which consisted of baked Alsatian flatbread with bacon lardons, sliced onions, thyme and creme fraiche. Umm more please? For Jess an enormous, jaw dropping bowl of French onion soup. The soup is topped with gruyere cheese, molten, bubbling gruyere cheese. This is French phenomena! It is so delicious that both of us cannot stop eating shovel full scoops of it. But wait there’s a present from the chefs! We must apologise to Jess’s baby sister because our next course was kermit the frog. Yes, breaded frog legs with sauce gribiche. Wow! This was Jessica’s first experience with frog legs and she was tucking in like it was fried chicken. Bring on mains because I can already feel myself filling up on the awesome bread that came out as well.
Main course time. For me Fietan Poele. Or to us English speaking folk. Alaskan halibut with seared heirloom tomato, garden squash and basil vinaigrette. My fish is cooked to perfection, buttery, soft and just falling apart. Fish cookery at its finest. The seared tomato adds a touch of acidity to the dish while the basil rounds everything out with herbaceous freshness. It is a lovely summer lunch and I am loving it. For Jess. Gnocchi a la Parisienne. Sautéed gnocchi with garden vegetables and brown butter sauce. This dish is a dish of Napa; it screams summer garden and the sauce is that little bit of lux that everyone needs. We also have side dishes. As if we needed them. Sweet corn with bacon and a whole dish of macaroni gratin. Wow we are so so full but I have to keep eating. It’s going to take a hero to eat dessert.
This time the hero was not myself but Jess. She stepped up to thetraveltotaste need for photos and ordered mousse au chocolat au lait with fleur de sel caramel. This is a dish from the heavens. Milk chocolate mousse covered in a dark chocolate glaze and filled with salted caramel. Good god that is serious richness. Thought I couldn’t possibly take another bite but suddenly all I want is more. We polish off the dessert and then Woody takes us into the heart of the machine. The kitchen.
One word can describe the kitchen at Bouchon. Efficient. There are chefs cleaning every surface while the sous calls dockets. Chefs on the grill look like they’ve been there for years. The kitchen hums with quiet confidence. Not just because they know the Thomas Keller name is behind them but the chefs here have the knowledge that what they’re doing is appreciated by their customers. Everyone here is smiling and the food is truly fantastic. Get yourself to Yountville and get yourself to Bouchon.
The French Laundry may be Chef Keller’s renowned restaurant but Bouchon stands strong on its own very firm feet. You may struggle to get reservations at TFL but Bouchon is ready to welcome you and it is well worth it.
Step into chef Keller’s world. This machine is ready to roll.
Josh and Jess
Bouchon Bistro Yountville
6534 Washington ST Yountville, California USA