On mange bien iciDining, Section 4A Monday, December 5th, 2011
The word bistro can mean many different things depending on where you are in the world. In Paris the streets are lined with them and they are some of the city’s best restaurants. New York City offers a more stylish take with most located in neighborhoods like Soho and Chelsea. In San Diego, we add our own casual flair to those that are in our town.
Here in San Diego, in the posh neighborhood of Kensington, there is a little corner restaurant that defines the word bistro from its menu to its atmosphere. Bleu Bohéme hits with its rustic French décor, but still offers that bohemian country style. Tall candles line the walls with dark wooden tables, making you think you’ve entered into a dark wine cellar. It offers a romantic feel, and will rival Hyacinth Bucket’s famous candle light suppers. It is a great place to linger with the one you love.
One of my favorite parts of this restaurant are the large chalk board menu’s hanging in the bar. Written in French, the menu is broken into La Tradition, La Saison, and Le Menu du Jour. Wines are listed on a board behind the bar and change frequently. The whole feel really makes you think you are sitting on the Left Bank in Paris.
Chef Ken Irvine has designed several menus that really give the diner some options. The dinner menu itself is quite large and very ambitious with loads of Les Petit Plats (appetizers) and Les Grand Plats (entrées). Bleu Bohéme is probably one of the only places left in San Diego where you can order Escargots ($12.95), and on a recent visit I splurged and ordered the classic dish. Uniquely prepared with tomatoes and chick peas, it was different although I felt the escargots really didn’t get the chance to shine.
For all you bacon lovers out there, the Gnocchi à la Parisienne ($12.95) is prepared with Brussels sprouts and beautiful chunks of smoked duck bacon. The Bisque de Homard ($11.50) is made with just the right amount of sherry, brandy and cream. It melts in your mouth. The Salade Lyonnaise ($10.50) is the best in town. A perfectly poached egg comes atop a bed of bitter friseé and is dressed with just the right amount of Dijon dressing. I could eat it every day.
As with any good French bistro, Les Moules Frites should be a staple. Here, they are not only a staple, they are the star. Prepared eight different ways and offered as an appetizer or entrée, they are the no-miss on the menu. I believe I have had almost every version, but the one that sticks with me the most is the gorgeous Saffranées au Fenouil ($14.95/$21.95). A steaming bowl of mussels comes to your table with salty fries and as you dig into the briny shellfish, you are hit with flavors of deep saffron and fennel bulbs; an amazing combination.
The wine list is decent here with about a hundred bottles to choose from, but I felt quality and price point didn’t match.
So when you get that craving to be transported into the French world, head over to Bleu Bohéme; sit at the bar with friends; grab a table in the front for a quick bite; or linger in the dining room for romance over candle light. No matter where you end up, you’re in for a Parisian treat. The only thing missing from your evening will be a stroll to La Tour Eiffel.
4090 Adams Ave., San Diego 92116
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