Greatest Hits Volume 1: Bouchon Bistro
Updated: Aug 20
The restaurant industry has an astonishingly high turnover rate, but there are some restaurants that stand the test of time. These restaurants transcend food trends. They are simultaneously innovative and consistent and they provide an extraordinary dining experience year after year, from decor to service to cuisine.
Like a greatest hits album containing a compilation of the best songs by an artist, I have created a "Greatest Hits" list for restaurants. These are restaurants that I have returned to over and over, for at least five, and sometimes ten or more years, and would recommend without hesitation. I'll start with one of my Napa Valley favorites.
Bouchon Bistro is located in Yountville, California in close proximity to several other restaurants in the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, including the world renowned French Laundry (which remains on my bucket list). Keller opened Bouchon Bistro in 1998 and named it after the "bouchons" (restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine) you'll find in Lyon, France. Since that time, he has opened other Bouchon locations, including bakeries, in New York, Beverly Hills, Miami and Las Vegas.
Keller brings a little bit of Paris to the Napa Valley by serving up perfectly executed, authentic, French bistro fare including pain d'epi, escargot and steak frites. In addition to the food, the decor at Bouchon is sure to transport you to a quaint and cozy bistro on your favorite "rue" in Paris. Think velvet, burgundy banquettes, a zinc bar, marble table tops, antique light fixtures, a stunning mosaic floor, and polished brass.
Pain d'epi, Whipped Butter and Pistachios
This bread, and all of Bouchon's baked goods, are excellent. You can purchase them at Bouchon Bakery, located right next door to the Bistro.
Oysters on the Half Shell
Bouchon has some of the most flavorful oysters I have ever had. In fact, you won't be disappointed ordering anything from their raw bar, which changes to reflects the freshest, seasonal oysters, mussels, clams, and other seafood.
French deviled eggs.
The addition of fried capers is genius. They add the perfect amount of crunch and saltiness to an otherwise unctuous dish.
Escargots de Bourgogne
Burgundy snails, parsley-garlic butter and Bouchon Bakery puff pastry.
In the words of Drake, of all the escargot I have eaten, Bouchon's is the "Best I've Ever Had."
Rillettes aux Deux Saumons
Fresh and smoked salmon rillettes served with toasted croutons.
Pâté de Campagne
Country style pâté with watercress, cornichons and radish.
Moules au Safran
Maine bouchot mussels steamed with white wine, Dijon mustard and saffron. Served with french fries.
Bouchon's french fries are arguably the best on the Yountville, restaurant strip.
Snake River Farms Brisket and Button Bushroom Tartlet with Morrel Mushroom Sauce
Should you choose not to share, this appetizer is so rich and decadent, it could easily be an entree.
Lamb Parmentier with Pommes Duchess
Lamb with carrot, celery, leek, button mushroom, caramelized onions, garlic confit and mashed potatoes
This was a daily special that I was lucky enough to happen upon on one of my visits. This might be my favorite dish at Bouchon. So good!
Confit de Canard
Crispy duck leg.
Poitrine de Bouef au Poivre
Snake River Farms brisket, potato puree, button mushrooms and sauce au poivre.
Pan-seared flat iron steak, caramelized shallots and maitre d'hôtel butter.
This dish is usually served with regular french fries, but I recommend upgrading to the truffle fries.
Some have said that Bouchon, Keller's second Yountville restaurant, is even better than his flagship, the French Laundry. Regardless, if you visit the Napa Valley, Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery are more than worthy of a stop. No matter what you order, you can't go wrong. Bon appétit!