French

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro is located inside Caesars Palace, right across from Bacchanal Buffet. French pastry master and chef François Payard is behind all of the treats and confections. The small shop offers everything from pastries, drinks, ice creams, and sandwiches. Known for their chocolates and candies as well, the patisserie satisfies everyone’s needs, especially with the bistro next door. This would be a great place to have breakfast or brunch if you don’t want to wait in that line for Bacchanal.

We just got the almond croissant. It was sweet, flakey, and had a sweet filling inside. The almonds on the outside were toasted perfectly and the crunch from this thing was unbelievable. Im sure I had powdered sugar all over and bits of almonds stuck to my face. This was perfect to hold me over until late lunch.

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro is a nice spot to just relax and have whatever you feel like. You can have a pastry and coffee. You can have eggs and toast or a sandwich, or you may just want some ice cream. Whatever it is, the beautifully furnished bistro has it all. I hope next time to try their dishes and breakfast/brunch menus. Until then, I guess.

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Little Next Door – Parisian Brunch

by Franklin on February 15, 2014

Find your passport, grab a plane, and fly over to Paris. Grab brunch at your local brasserie, and there is your European/French breakfast with freshly baked bread and all the classics. Instead, drive down 3rd Street near Crescent Heights and you will be at Little Next Door. The French inspired brasserie is spot on with the colors, cuisine and bakery selections. I enjoyed the food and Little Next Door is a great contender amongst the many breakfast spots in this area.

We started things off with a caramel latte. Doctors say, drink water in the morning to jump start your internal organs. Well, caffeine does the same, except really fast. Coffee Latte over water always! We missed the latte art, but this large cup of caramel latte was delicious. Not too sweet, the coffee flavor was pure and delightful. It was creamy, delicious, and all I could wish was to have had this last with our dessert.

We were treated with some delicious bread. One could only assume this was all made in house. It was light, airy and perfect with the olive oil and balsamic mix. The mixture was sweet, acidic, and was zesty from the herbs and garlic inside. I was glad there wasn’t a lot of bread that was served — that would have been bad.

The Croque Madame is almost the perfect breakfast. It is cheesy, has ham, and of course, a runny egg on top. The grilled ham in this one was really nice in quality. You could taste the freshness and the actual pork flavor came out. This open faced sandwich made with whole wheat bread was a covered in amazingly melted and toasted cheese. The combination with the simple vinaigrette salad was satisfying. The simplicity of this dish is what made me enjoy it.

Eggs Benedict is another one of those classic brunch menu items. We opted for the Wild Mushroom Eggs Benedict. I appreciated the lightness and delicate Hollandaise sauce. It usually is a bit on the sour side or rich with too much butter. Theirs was just a compliment to this dish. The mushrooms were the star — it had a good bite to it with an earthy flavor. The egg was poached perfectly, and the egg yolk was warm and running. I appreciated that the bread was toast with crust cut off instead of an English muffin. This made it easy to cut and eat with a fork. The side house green salad went well with this dish.

Of course, we had to finish things off with macarons. My favorite was the caramel, something the waiter picked out for us. The other 3 were total misses. I tried a bunch of macarons in my day, and these were just so-so. The inside was moist, but a little too moist, almost wet. The outside crust was nice, but the inside was a bit off. A good macaron has a nice firm outer crust, and the inside should be light, then dense as you chew. Their flavors were ok, but the texture was a bit off. I wish I had a chance to try some of their other pastries and baked goods.

Little Next Door does a good job in bringing France to 3rd Street. The decor is on point, and the food items are delicious. I could only imagine food in France to be only slightly better (maybe a little more than slightly). It was relaxing eating brunch outside, people watching and seeing the cars wiz by on the street. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is safe to say breakfast is king here.

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon

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Fig and Olive for Dine LA was a treat. The menu looked interesting and the French/Mediterranean restaurant focusing on figs and olive (oil) was intriguing. The interior was nicely appointed and full of sunlight. This made for a perfect situation camera lighting wise. Only if all of my pictures were to enjoy all this sunlight. The food was plenty and delicious, and the whole experience from start to finish was so relaxing. From olive oil in every dish and figs nicely accenting everything, lunch was a pleasure.

To start things off, we had the bread and olive oil trio. Dipping the focaccia into the three different types of olive oil, it was really a taste test of how different each oil can taste. Each of the three high quality olive oils had such a distinguished taste profile. It was some of the best olive oils I ever had — It made me appreciate the olive oil as an ingredient and how it can be used so simply.

For the appetizer, I chose the truffle mushroom croquettes. These little morsels filled with a cremini mushroom, parmesan, and béchamel was so rich and tasty. Fried to a perfection, the outer layer was crisp and the inside was gooey. The mushroom flavor really came through, and then was accented with the truffle olive oil aioli. The deep earthy notes of the truffle and mushrooms really gave a flavor profile like nothing else. It was battered fats and carbs, fried, then dipped in more fats, but it was so delicately prepared. It was a nice start.

The lobster bisque to me was a miss. It didn’t have that wow factor or taste profile I thought it would have. The chive crackers and pimento (Spanish paprika) mascarpone were a nice touch, but if the broth is not good, everything falls apart. Even the additional cost for the lobster meat didn’t save this dish. The soup was just too watery and not thick enough. It tasted more of sea salt than the sea itself. I don’t know what happened here, but the mushroom croquettes was easily the better of the two.

To save us from the disaster of the lobster bisque, we indulged ourselves in some of the crostinis. Fig and Olive being known for their crostini, we had to order some. We went and chose three: burrata, tomato, herb, balsamic, and olive oil, / Manchego, marcona almond, and fig jam, / prosciutto, ricotta, fig, olive, and walnut. Of the three, my absolute favorite was the burrata; it was so silky smooth and kind of took over your mouth. With the classic mixture of tomatoes and balsamic, the flavor was so pure and delicious. The Manchego with almond and fig jam was good, but the overly sweet jam didn’t balance out too well. The prosciutto and fig crostini was nice — I do love my prosciutto, but the fig was again, too sweet for my liking. Maybe more prosciutto would have better countered the sweet fig? Maybe a lot lot more. 🙂 Definitely, the burrata was the best of the three.

I had some of the penne mushroom tartufo and it was quite nice. The big bowl of pasta was definitely a lot to handle. A mix of cremini and black trumpet mushrooms and penne was all that was needed to make this an awesome pasta dish. Mixed in with some parmesan, parsley, scallion, and white truffle olive oil, it was perfect. The mushrooms had a nice bite to them, and yes — no meat. The mushrooms in this dish did wonders. With the help of the white truffle oil, the flavors really transpired nicely. The herbaceous notes of the parsley and scallion helped liven up the dish as well. It was a lot of a good thing.

A lot of times, I like to order at least one thing I either don’t usually order, or I usually don’t make at home. I ordered the lamb skewers. Though it wasn’t as satisfying as the penne, it was still a delicious entree. The grilled lamb on rosemary skewers was brilliant — each bite was soft, perfectly medium rare in the middle, and infused with rosemary — The bell peppers also gave some flavor as well. The Greek yogurt and honey sauce was great with the meat, as was the roasted whole fig on the side. My favorite item on this dish was the couscous. Combined with onion, tomato, and scallions, the couscous was fluffy and aromatic. It went well with the delicious lamb.

For dessert, the chocolate pot de creme was a nice choice. Filled with a rich and creamy chocolate pudding, it was perfect for a chocolate craving. The cool part (no pun intended) was, the top layer was a vanilla ice cream, and the bottom was the chocolate. My favorite was the crunchy praline financiers. It was sweet, buttery, and light like a wafer — It was nothing like I ever had.

The French waffle was more familiar to me. Though the waffle looked crispy, it was lacking in that department. I was expecting something along the lines of a liege waffle, but I guess the French waffle is more fluffy and light. It was still tasty with the berries and cream. It was a classic combination with the waffle.

The French, Mediterranean restaurant celebrating the fig and olive (oil) in their dishes really came through. The decor inside made me want to live there. With the bright lights shining through, to the heavenly whites and bushes of rosemary throughout, the interior was soothing. The food was masterfully prepared. The play on sweet and savory, as well as figs and olive oil in almost every dish was evident. I had a relaxing time here at Fig and Olive, and thanks to Dine LA, it was an experience for sure.

Fig & Olive on Urbanspoon

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Bouchon is an Icon. Having been to the restaurant in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles, and the bakery at the Venetian, going to the bakery in Los Angeles was on my final to do list. Not that anything is different, but the conqueror of all food in me wanted to just go. Directly below the Bouchon restaurant right across the Montage courtyard is the small Bouchon Bakery. There, a display of cakes and endless colorful macarons catch your eye immediately. With eyes bigger than my stomach, I started to order.

The Boston Cream doughnut was my first bite. All the chocolate got on the bag and left me with a mess…and not enough chocolate. The doughnut was a bit greasy and each bite filled my mouth with oil. I mean, a donut from a pink box is pretty perfect, a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme, even better. This “gourmet” doughnut, on the other hand didn’t have any qualities of a good donut.

Macarons are a must at Bouchon. I ordered the caramel and pistachio flavored macaron. Both were exceptional as always. The caramel had a nice burnt caramel taste. It was sweet and delicious. The pistachio was good and had a nice rounded out flavor. If ordering macarons these two flavors are a must.

Another item to consider is the pain au chocolate. A classic for sure at any French bakery, this chocolate filled croissant was flakey to the max. You don’t want to eat this in your friends new car. What was even more flakey and sweet was their kouign amann. This was amazing. This pastry was filled with layers of butter and sugar. I was almost too sweet, but in a good way.

Did I eat all of these pastries in one sitting? Maybe. Was it an awesome day with perfect weather at the courtyard? Yes! Whenever I go to Bouchon Bakery, I need to get as many things as possible. That way, I can try them all. Most other bakeries, I would just get one item and be happy with it. Here, it’s like I’m at a candy shop and get an assortment of things. Bouchon Bakery is always a good idea. Always.

Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Thomas Keller made an empire for himself. Though it may not have been intentional, the guy is a legend. I was fortunate to be blessed by his presence at last year’s L.A. Time’s The Taste event. Though I wasn’t able to meet him, he did say a simple “hello” to me. Just being in the presence of one of today’s best chefs was an honor. That is why this time around during Dine LA, Bouchon in Beverly Hills was part of the plan. My Bouchon experience at Las Vegas was memorable — it was time to give it a whirl at my city. Lunch from the Dine LA menu was exceptional and quite a deal.

We started off with the bread and butter. The familiar pain de epi was perfect. Basically a fancy baguette made in a zig-zag, the crust was crusty and the inside was perfectly dense. Eating it with the butter was simple enough and delicious. Honestly, I was full after the bread.

For my appetizer, the tartare de saumon was a perfect choice. The Scottish salmon tartare was chopped finely which made the flavor very mild. The hard boiled hen eggs were also chopped finely and was topped with red onions and capers. The Kendal Farms creme fraiche on top was a great touch. Placing everything on top of their toasted croutons was a complete appetizer. It was crunchy and buttery — Delicious!

It was 5 dollars more, but we opted for the assiette de charcuterie. Served with pickled vegetables, Dijon mustard, and petite baguette, this was amazingly tasty. We made mini sandwiches with the bread, lettuce, and mustard. The duck prosciutto and salami was perfectly salty and fatty. Silky and savory, the thinly sliced, salted cured meats were my favorite.

I ordered the moules frites for my entrée. Simply a mussels and fries dish, this was a great combination. The Maine bouchot mussels were steamed with cider, tarragon mustard, and shallots. The addition of Hobbs Shore bacon lardons were fatty, great with the somewhat sour, yet addicting broth. The mussels were cooked nicely and melted in my mouth. The french fries were similar in shape and size to that of McDonal’s fries. Of course, Bouchon’s tasted a lot fresher and actually tasted like potatoes. Everyone loves fries, and theirs is a classic favorite.

Another dish that had the supplemental 5 dollars charge was the tagliatelle . Not a traditional flat noodle, the noodles were more of a long, noodle like macaroni — homemade of course. Topped with an all day braised beef short rib and sauce Bordelaise, it was meaty and stew like. My favorite in this dish was the forest mushrooms. It had a nice bite to it and was just as meaty as the beef. The wilted swiss chard and Parmesan was perfect in this pasta.

Dessert is a must. The creme caramel was simple as can be. The caramel custard was fantastically pudding like, but it was firm. Think silky soft tofu, but not. It was lightly sweet and the caramel cream had a nice burnt taste that complicated the whole thing. It was delicate and perfect.

I was feeling “Frenchy” because, well, I was at a French restaurant. I ordered the assortment de macaron. It came with 4 mini macarons — caramel, chocolate, earl grey, and a mystery flavor. No, it isn’t really a mystery flavor. I just have bad memory and forgot the flavor. The macarons were delicate and perfect. Crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside. My favorite was the caramel. It was so sweet and delicious. What a perfect ending to our lunch at Bouchon!

Bouchon, located at the second floor of the Montage Beverly Hills was a beautiful spot. The weather was perfect and the Montage courtyard was picture perfect. The ambiance and decor of the restaurant was similar to the Bouchon in Las Vegas. The aesthetically decorated interior and the excellently prepared cuisine put me at ease and made me happy. This had Thomas Keller written all over it. The food was splendid and the experience was all worth it. Anything Thomas Keller touches turns to gold, and Bouchon in LA is quite golden.

Bouchon Bistro on Urbanspoon

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