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  • The Anonymous Hungry Hippopotamus

Greatest Hits Volume 1: Bouchon Bistro

Updated: Feb 9

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. Whether they are establishments I have visited once, or nearby favorites I have returned to over and over, these are restaurants I would recommend without hesitation.

Let's launch the series 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.

Oeufs Mimosa

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.

Steak Frites

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!

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