Tuesday, March 22, 2011

chouchou restaurant

san francisco had their restaurant week at the end of january called "dine about town".


when it comes to choosing a restaurant to try for restaurant week in SF, it was quite a challenge. i couldn't quite make up my mind but i ended up picking a french restaurant called chouchou french bistro probably mainly because of their restaurant week menu.


when we arrived at the chouchou, it was a petite restaurant with bright decor around the room, and pictures of france to mimick a french-like ambience. it was nice and cozy but there wasn't much of a waiting area so it was awkward as i waited for ryan to park his car. i felt that i was constantly in the way and just didn't quite know where to stand in the restaurant.


we were shown to our table which happened to be on the second floor which was an indoor balcony seating. it was quite dangerous to walk up the dark staircase. i liked our table because it was private but it was quite a small space and could be annoying when ppl try to walk through the narrow path next to our table to get to theirs. and there was only one waitstaff tending to the tables on the second floor so service was a tad slower though he was apologetic about it and i could see he was trying his best to keep all the diners happy.


i love the art on the back of the menu. i was somewhat disappointed when i saw the selection for restaurant week menu. it wasn't as posted online of the website but they did mention it was subject to change. so we decided to get one prix fixe three course meal and get a la carte dishes from their regular menu.



note: restaurant week items would be marked with *rw*

as an accompaniment to the meal, ryan ordered a small bottle of white wine (which equalled to about two glasses) which he actually really enjoyed.


appetizer | local carlsbad mussels marinieres . shallots . garlic . parsley . cream . white wine . ($9)


these were mussels done right. after the disappointing mussels i had from the house, this dish made up for it. the flavors all melded together really well and i could taste the fresh mussels flavor throughout the well-seasoned broth. it wasn't too heavy on the cream and it was balanced just right. i was very happy with my selection of appetizer and wanted to lick the bowl if i could but i refrained myself.

sides | pommes frites . black truffle oil . parmesan . parsley ($6)


we were kinda persuaded to order this by our waiter. i was not very hungry before dinner so i certainly didn't want fries. but our waiter was saying that if we order the mussels, pommes frites are a must as the accompaniment just as how one would have it in france. he actually gave us an analogy of mussels without the frites is like summer without the sun -.- ryan decided to just order it to try anyway. it was just alright. i am very picky with fries. i like mine crispy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside.  it wasn't as crispy as i hoped it would be and there were some soggy ones. good job on the amount of truffle oil so the flavor of truffle was present but not overpowering. not sure if i'd order it again.

appetizer *rw* | dungeness crab salad . endives . creamy meyer lemon dressing .


ryan absolutely loved the crab salad. it was his favorite dish of the night. i concurred that it was tasty with the natural sweetness and flavor of the dungeness crab which was enhanced by the freshness and creaminess of the dressing and the crunch of the endive. although i enjoyed this dish, i prefer simpler and minimalist kind of crab salad with just salt and lemon but this came close to my absolute favorite crab salad.


entree | all natural moulard duck leg confit . white beans . huckleberry sauce reduction .


i was already stuffed before this dish even arrived at our table so my assessment about the dish might be a bit biased. setting aside the white bean (i don't like beans), the duck leg had a very nice crispy skin all over and the meat inside was somewhat reddish. oddly enough, i remembered it being ever so slightly dry but was compensated by the huckleberry sauce that cut through the richness and sweetness that also gave the dish a depth of flavor. ryan liked it a lot.


entree *rw* | organic roasted winter vegetables in cassolette . béchamel . mixed herbs . puff pastry


of all the selections, i was surprised when ryan decided to order the vegetarian option on the restaurant week menu. the reason simply being he wanted to try what a cassolette is since neither of us have had it before. cassolette is defined as a small porcelain, glass or metal container used for the cooking and serving of individual dishes (as found in wikipedia).  the dome of the puff pastry makes me just want to dive a spoon through the top to look what goodies is wrapped inside.


our verdict: the kale killed the dish. since the chef was trying to incorporate seasonal winter vegetables, the kale which has a somewhat distinctive flavor which you either love or hate (in this case, i don't like the flavor of kale much) dominated the dish since there was a ton of it. ryan had a bite of kale with every bite he took so that was quite an overkill of kale. minus the kale, he thought the dish needed some salt but the puff pastry was tasty. the chef came by our table to ask for ryan's opinion on the dish since he received an unfavorable review from another diner the night before and we tried to come up with suggestions that might improve the dish. regardless, i think we will probably not order this dish again, at least not if kale is in the list of ingredients.

dessert | vanilla crème brulee


by this time, we were filled to the brim and had all intentions to have the dessert (included in the restaurant week prix fixe) to go. but the waiter came by and told us that the chef has specially prepared a dessert for us which i guess is for the suggestions we offered for the cassolette. the crème brulee was done so beautifully. i've watched several iron chef america episode where the judges were served this dessert and they would have to use a spoon to crack that layer of crunchy brulee on the top. this time, i got to experience it myself. the custard was not too sweet and was soft and smooth. even though we were stuffed, we just had to take an extra few bites. it was probably the best crème brulee i've ever had so far.

with the exception of the cassolette dish, chouchou restaurant offers tasty classic french food made with fresh seasonal ingredients that we enjoyed. that and the best crème brulee i've ever had. :)


disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

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