Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steak Frites and a Ballon de Blanc at Thomas Keller’s 1 Star Michelin Restaurant Bouchon in Yountville, California

Pictures: Steak Frites at Bouchon in Yountville

Thomas Keller is one of the leading Chefs – if not #1 – of the United States. He now owns a number of restaurants that range from the 3 Michelin star experience of The French Laundry in Yountsville and Per Se in New York City to the relaxed and vibrant atmosphere of Bouchon, the family style dishes of Ad Hoc and the familiar sweets you'll discover at Bouchon Bakery. I recently had lunch - Steak Frites (direct) - at the Bouchon Restaurant in Yountville, which has 1 Michelin star.

Chef Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller’s landmark restaurant is the The French Laundry in Yountville, California. In 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area. A year earlier, Thomas Keller was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se. Thomas Keller is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.

After the success of The French Laundry, Thomas and his brother, Joseph Keller (currently owner/chef of Josef's in Las Vegas), opened Bouchon in 1998, where I had lunch. Located down the street from The French Laundry, it serves moderately priced French bistro fare. A few years later, Bouchon Bakery opened next door. Over the following years, Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery opened in New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills.
Picture: Bouchon in Yountville

In 2004, Keller's much anticipated Per Se restaurant opened in the Time Warner Center complex in New York. Keller’s latest restaurant, "ad hoc", opened in September 2006 in Yountville with a different fixed price comfort food dinner served family style every night.

The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group

Napa, CA: ad hoc, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, The French Laundry
New York: Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, Per Se
Las Vegas: Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery
Beverly Hills: Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery

Thomas Keller on French Bistro Food

“Bouchon is based on my memories of the amazing bistros I would frequent while traveling in France, such as Chez Paul and Hugon, where they serve meals almost family style in very small dining rooms. Often times the husband cooks and the wife greets and serves. First courses, headcheese or a charcuterie plate, may be passed from table to table. These neighborhood places serving simple, traditional dishes in a home-like atmosphere provided the model for what I hoped to create in Yountville.”

Pictures: Bouchon in Yountville

“French bistro food is my favorite - steak frites, a two-inch high quiche with bacon and onions, a salad with an egg on top finished with a perfect vinaigrette, a croque madame, some oysters and a glass of champagne. These are foods that represent the most important kind of cooking there is because they're rooted in tradition. So when I thought of opening a restaurant that's more casual than The French Laundry, I decided to explore and deepen the culinary heritage that I admire so much. A Bouchon can be, and should be, whatever you need it to be. It's a casual place, a social place, a place where people come to relax talk and to eat. A kind of home.”

The Plats Principaux

Here is list of the plats principaux - all French brasserie classics.

Gigot d'Agneau - roasted leg of lamb with fennel dauphine, braised winter greens, garlic chips & garlic scented lamb jus

Steak Frites - pan-seared prime flatiron, caramelized shallots & maître d'hôtel butter served with French fries

Boeuf Bourguignon - braised beef shortribs with bacon, cipollini onions, root vegetables, butter noodles & red wine jus

Boudin Blanc - white sausage with potato purée & French prunes

Truite aux Choux de Bruxelles - pan-roasted Idaho trout with roasted Brussels sprouts, toasted chestnuts & sage brown butter sauce

Coquilles St. Jacques au Cidre - pan seared day boat scallops with apple pain perdu, confit of pumpkin, caramelized salsify, apples & cider emulsion

Gnocchi à la Parisienne - sautéed gnocchi with a fricassée of garden vegetables & brown butter sauce

Steak Dijonnaise - Snake River Farms "eye of the rib," with potato boulangère, glazed mushrooms & sauce Dijonnaise

Croque Madame - grilled ham & cheese sandwich on brioche with fried egg & mornay sauce served with French fries

Moules au Safran - Maine bouchot mussels with white wine, Dijon mustard & saffron served with French fries

Poulet Rôti - roasted chicken with caramelized sun chokes, melted leeks, black trumpet mushrooms & chicken jus

The Wines

The Bouchon wine program features wines from France and the United States, primarily California. 

The Menu says: “We seek out wines that express their terroir, offer a sense of place and a story of the individuals who make them. You'll find this to be true in wines like a cru Beaujolais from Marcel Lapierre, or a Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley that star winemaker Wells Guthrie crafts just for Bouchon.

With the same spirit of community, we are pleased to announce our Vin de Carafe program. In bistros throughout France, Vin de Carafe is simply what you drink. Order a carafe of wine, and what is brought to your table is simple, delicious, affordable and served without pretense. These wines are a representation of the region they are from and of the people who produce them, most likely friends, family or neighbors. They are honest wines, truly local.

At our Bistros, we have recreated the spirit of these special wines by introducing our own Vin de Carafe sourced from the wine regions surrounding our restaurants. The wines are selected in barrel from the cellars of the finest winemakers California has to offer, and are only available in the restaurant. They are delicious, affordable and unique - once a barrel is gone, the wine won't return again.”

We had a glass of the excellent Vin de Carafe.

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