Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New French Bistro In Town...

When we heard the news that Chef Jean-Francois Meteigner was closing down La Cachette restaurant in Century City we did not take it well. We have had many wonderful meals there and have always admired his creativity and precision in the kitchen. Though this fine dining establishment was closing, we were thrilled to hear he would be opening a bistro in Santa Monica. It's much more casual, targets a younger crowd and is a bit more Int'l in cuisine (strong Asian & California influence into French Bistro cooking).

So after much anticipation, we managed to make a reservation a week after it opened. When we got there, we opted for the patio, but got stuck waiting close to a half hour to get a table. As we sat at the bar waiting and drinking a decent & fairly priced sparkling rose ($7/glass) and a beer of Aligash White (awesome Belgium style beer), we couldn't help but find some disappointment in the decor. It doesn't strike you as a classic bistro, or for that matter a hip bistro, but rather a converted lobby of an office building into a restaurant.
That said, the menu genuinely excited us. It is a lengthy menu (would take a number of visits to conquer), is truly int'l, but still manages to include some of the classic dishes from the old La Cachette. We started with a couple of different apps to share including the Crab, Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Tower with Lemon Olive Oil (our favorite app), Oysters with ceviche seasoning (good oysters but not worth the price), Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartar with Korean chili paste (also very good), and Fresh Hawaiian Hearts of Palm "Two Ways" with truffle oil dressing. All the dishes were actually fantastic, except for that I felt the oysters needed a nice vinegar-shallot sauce. I want to stress that the first timers try the crab and avocado tower. It was served cold and has amazing flavor (acidity was perfect) and comes across as a truly refreshing dish. Additionally, the truffle dressing with the Hearts of Palm is out of this world, but unfortunately the dish could have used a bit more dressing so make sure to ask for extra!

The entrees were equally as good. I ordered the Bouillabaisse with fish, clams, prawns and scallops. This was excellent and may have been the best Bouillabaisse I've ever had. Make sure to ask for the crostini's and rouille as I believe it completes the dish. My husband ordered the Krobuta Pork Shank, braised with honey & vinegar. It was served with sour cherries and mashed potatoes, which really complimented the flavors of the meat. Our friends got the Eco Mussels w/garlic, shallot, thyme, carrots, and celery in a light creamy white wine & saffron broth served with french fries on the side. This dish was good but nothing great (solid fries, average moules). The last entree was truly unique. It was a lightly smoked Alaskan True Cod, served alongside house-made Organic Salmon Sausages (creative and packed with flavor), fennel sauerkraut, and fennel lemon sauce. This sounds strange, but the sauerkraut made the dish...all I can say to the chef on this one -Bravo!

Always nice to finish with something sweet, something the former La Cachette excelled at. We had an apple tart with crème fraiche (crispy and perfect) and then a chocolate banana crepe. here's the verdict. The food is a clear home run, but there are certainly some negatives that are attached to it. In addition to the poor decor, the service was a bit of a mess (main courses came before we were even done with the apps) and the menu prices do not come across as a steal. While we do plan to go back, if the apps were cut down to $10-$12 (currently $14-$18) and entrees to the high teens, we would be absolute regulars. La Cachette Bistro 1733 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica 90401 310-434-9509

La Cachette Bistro
1733 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica 90401

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I’m working with La Cachette Bistro. Thanks for your feedback. I want you to know that we are listening to your concerns and will pass along your comments to the owners.
    Thank you,