Not many small towns can offer the expertise of culinary excellence as Yountville in the heart of the Napa Valley. Gastronomic veteran Thomas Keller opened the world famous French Laundry here in 1994, and the rest is history.
Unfortunately, after many attempts, we admitted defeat in trying to secure a table at 'The French Laundry'. Still wanting to eat at one of Chef Keller’s restaurants we booked a table at the famous Bouchon Bistro.
After the success of The French Laundry, Keller opened his second Yountville restaurant in 1998 and named it Bouchon. Serving authentic French Bistro fare at more moderate prices, Keller has joked in the past that the inspiration behind Bouchon was to give him somewhere
to eat after his shifts at The French Laundry. Nearing its 20th year, Bouchon has accumulated multiple awards, including a Michelin Star awarded in 2007, which has been retained every year since.
Walking into Bouchon you could be forgiven for thinking you were stepping into a charming Paris Bistro. The classic Bistro design is executed successfully, creating a highly authentic looking establishment. There is also some outside seating on the patio to enjoy if you please.
|Flower Arrangement and special board|
After a pleasant welcome from the English waiter we were shown to our table. Despite our 5pm slot, the restaurant was fairly full and had a bustling atmosphere, typical of French Bistro’s. After opening our paper menu, we studied an array which was packed full of French classics and settled on the following:
|Bread, Butter & Nuts|
Made next door in the charming Bouchon Bakery, this loaf had great texture and was a pleasing start to our meal.
|Heriot Blanc Soup|
The cooking of the ingredients here does all the talking. There isn’t much you can do with the presentation of soup, but when it tastes as good as this who cares. This classic French soup was executed perfectly. The onion flavours were intense and worked well with the subtle white wine flavours coming through.
No intricate presentation needed for this dish as the flavours were outstanding. The fresh smoked Rillettes had a great depth of flavour and when spread on the toasted croutons, this was a very addictive starter.
|Perfectly Cooked Chicken|
This was easily the standout dish of our meal. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the skin was golden and crisp. It was placed on top of a mixture of peas, onions, garden lettuce and bacon lardons. This was all served with an outstanding chicken jus which rounded off this dish fantastically.
Quite ironic we come to America and ended up ordering sausage and mash. The presentation of the dish was basic, but it was the cooking of the ingredients that made this a classy plate of food. The White Pudding was delicious, as was the silky smooth mash. This was another top class plate of food.
|Beautifully Crisp Fries|
|Chocolate & Orange|
The chocolate was smooth and rich and had a perfect texture. The orange crème that was dotted on the plate was sublimely sharp and cut through the rich chocolate flavours perfectly.
|Floating Island - Vanilla & Caramel|
This was our first time trying a floating island dessert. The meringue floated like a cloud of sugar, within the pool of crème anglaise. We loved the sweet flavours of the caramel poured all over the top of the meringue. A truly stunning dessert, possibly one of the best we have tried, it really was that good.
Bouchon is a restaurant that delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Classic French Brasserie style dishes executed to a very high standard. These are plates of food that leave you satisfyingly full and with a large smile on your face. Reading the menu some dishes may sound fairly simple, but the cooking of the ingredients is impeccable. After a slow start the service warmed up and on the whole was of a good standard.
Surprisingly a meal at Bouchon won’t break the bank. With both of us eating three courses off the a la carte menu and a soft drink, the bill was just under £100. Not many one star restaurants can compete with value like that.
Yountville is a small town, where Thomas Keller and his empire may be the reason most people will visit. Be sure to save room for a treat from the Bouchon Bakery suited next door to Bouchon as this is a seriously good bakery packed full of tempting choices. We can’t sing the praises of Bouchon high enough, and for us this is a must visit if you find yourself in the Napa Valley area.