Much like its trashier cousin Hollywood, Beverly Hills is a part of this city that has somehow become “Los Angeles” to the rest of the world. It’s the kind of place where tourists imagine they might find a Real Housewife, or a Beverly Hills Cop, or a celebrity shopping on Rodeo Drive. They are more likely to find old ladies wearing (seasonally inappropriate) fur coats, overpriced and terrible food, and many, many other tourists.
Bouchon, the LA outpost of the Thomas Keller Empire® is exactly what you’d expect of a Beverly Hills restaurant. It’s expensive, it’s pretty fancy, it’s full of people who work at talent agencies. But Bouchon also has something you wouldn’t expect: food that you don’t mind eating.
After you get through an unnecessary two-step check in process (you tell a host at the top of the stairs you’ve arrived, before being sent down a long corridor to tell another host you’ve arrived), you realize that you may have actually teleported to France. Or at least the Hollywood version of a French bistro, complete with wicker chairs, mirrors everywhere, and snooty waiters in vests and aprons.
The food is simple and doesn’t stray far from the bistro classics - escargot and foie gras mousse and croque madame are all present. The mussels are truly great (save some of the excellent bread they give you at the start for soaking up the sauce), the steak frites are good, the roast chicken is roast chicken. But because this is Beverly Hills, be prepared to pay for it: $37.50 for good, but not amazing, steak frites is steep whichever way you look at it.
Unsurprisingly, nobody here actually seems to care about any of the good or the bad. To your left will be a producer and his (much younger) wife, ordering champagne and oysters before they have to be home for his 8:30pm bedtime. To your right will be a huge family with the most well-behaved children known to man eating frites with a knife and fork, while their mother pretends to eat her salad. Bouchon will continue to exist simply because it’s in Beverly Hills - the rich people that live here, the rich people that work here, and the people who don’t care because their clients are paying anyway, will keep coming. But when you have to eat in Beverly Hills, there are many worse ways to do it than Bouchon - especially when someone else is footing the bill.
Remember the years when you couldn't eat foie gras in the state of California? Slathering this mousse on slices of toasted baguette is a perfect example of why those years sucked.
if you go to Bouchon and don’t order a dozen oysters, did you really go to Bouchon?
This comes out looking pretty, and also making us feel sorry for whichever underpaid chef spends their life cutting hard boiled eggs and red onions into perfect tiny cubes. This dish only really works if you get a bit of everything onto your fork, so they probably should have just mixed it all up anyway.
Halfway through eating this we realized that French onion soup is less soup, more very salty broth that ends up getting soaked up by giant bits of bread with cheese on top. Which somehow is less appetizing than we thought it was when we were 11.
A nice piece of steak with some nice caramelized shallots on top and a nice mound of fries next to it. All very nice, but not $40 nice.
The vegetables that come under the roast chicken change with the seasons (we had squash), but the chicken is always perfectly cooked and involves a very tasty sauce.
Our favorite thing on the menu. A giant bowl of steamed mussels with a white wine and saffron sauce and a mountain of fries to help soak up that sauce. If it was less fancy here, we’d probably just drink the sauce. Maybe you should anyway.