6534 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1397
Honestly, what can I say about Bouchon that has not already been said before? Located right in the heart of Yountville, Bouchon brings to mind those lovely French bistros along the Seine in Paris, with its deep red awning, those tall French windows, and the bounty of potted plants. Unlike its sister restaurant French Laundry, Bouchon is much more relaxed and casual. The ambiance encourages long hours of socializing over glasses of local wine, while munching on pommes frites. Bouchon embodies the young, chic Parisian, while Ad Hoc recalls rustic family meals of long ago. Thomas Keller truly did a magnificent job in distinguishing each restaurant, making sure each had its own charm and personality.
The menu really reflects this, as Bouchon features the best of French bistro cuisine – croque madame, quiche, plates of fromage and plenty of warm bread and butter to go around. I was actually really surprised to see how humble (for lack of better word?), and easy going the restaurant was. I was expecting stuffiness and coldness (as is typical in many famous restaurants), but instead, we received a warm welcome from our gracious server for the evening (God bless her, though I can’t remember her name).
We began our meal with crostini and vines of warm bread from Bouchon Bakery, served alongside a bean puree dip and sweet butter. The cute little braid of bread was absolutely delicious – already buttery and flaky on its own, and just so gooood with the butter. I’d come here just for the bread if I could…
David and I shared a saucer of a warm ginger carrot puree with creme fraiche. I personally love carrot soup. If done correctly, the carrot is sweet and peppered with warm spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. The creme fraiche soothes the spices just enough to allow only a whisper of it hit your tongue. Bouchon’s carrot soup was delicious, and we cleaned our saucer by unceremoniously dunking the bread in the soup. To die for.
At the insistent encouragement of our server, David ordered the Moules au Safran, or mussels steamed with white wine, mustard and saffron. The buttery, garlicky, white wine sauce was good enough to drink, and we actually ended up using moore bread to sop up the juices. The mussels, though small, took on the fragrant sauce very well and were sweet and aromatic. The white wine lightened up the buttery sauce, while the saffron resonated throughout the dish. A cone of pommes frites were served alongside the mussels, and they truly were to die for. Cut small and thin, the frites were crispy and evenly salted. How could you possibly go wrong with Bouchon fries? The entire dish was sooo satisfying, and David even suggested coming back the next day for a round 2.
I had a medium-rare seared salmon steak over a perky vinaigrette that cut through the fattiness of the salmon. And with the addition of the sweet peas and carrots, as well as earthy mushrooms and briny artichoke hearts, all my taste buds were sufficiently tickled. Now, salmon is a temperamental fish in the sense that even a few extra seconds on heat will overcook the fish, but Bouchon did a good job of keeping the fish moist and flaky. Overall, the dish was well done, but (just my luck), I liked David’s mussels more, and ended up eating waaay too much bread with the mussel juice.
Our bellies completely stuffed, we could not even entertain the thought of dessert, and we left satisfied and content…. but not before stopping at the Bouchon Bakery first 😀
6528 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1397
Ahh, Bouchon. Coming a bit late in the day, the bakery was quite depleted in baked goods, but we managed to finagle an espresso macaron and citrus panna cotta tart for a pre-bedtime snack. The espresso macaron was good, though to be fair, I’ve had better. Crisp exterior, tender interior, sweet and rich espresso buttercream. Yes, it was good, but not inspired. The citrus panna cotta tart, however, was absolutely delicious. Infused with the winter grapefruit flavors and topped with citrus pieces, the panna cotta itself was the perfect marriage of sweet and tangy. The sweet tartshell lent some texture to the panna cotta, and the overall dessert was outstanding. I am quite inspired to make it at home now… now, if only I could procure a Bouchon cookbook… hhhm….
Bouchon is now officially my favorite restaurant. It was such an enjoyable experience and I will be coming back to Bouchon before the end of the summer for a special anniversary (!!!). The alluring atmosphere, the delicious food, and the beautiful Napa Valley backdrop will keep us returning again and again.
ps. I just bought the Bouchon cookbook off Amazon for $30. It arrives in 2 days!!!