In the space that used to house an old favourite of ours, Pomegranate, a new eatery has appeared, Bouchon. Well, not real new, they’ve been there a while, but it has taken us a while for it to get there. Not sure why, I’ve seen the menus, heard the buzz, all very intriguing, just never made it till now. The result, not too bad – actually quite good. May have to add them to our short list of to-go places.
The menu is what you would expect for a French bistro and reflective of Richmond’s increasingly desire for sophisticated food. For appetizers I glanced at the foie gras, but at $19 it was a bit much for the combination of bad economy and a first visit to a restaurant. Instead I went for the Veal Sweetbreads, sauteed in a verjus demi with shallots, ginger and thyme. The easiest way to describe the dish would be creamy sweetbreads in a sauce of sweet and sour but that would be a bit misleading. When I think sweet and sour, images of cloyingly sweet syrupy sauce with little sour come to mind. No, this was sweet but just, and the sour tang complimented the creamy sweetbreads perfectly. Sadly, I lost a good portion of my appetizer to Finn who, if he keeps up his love of interesting foods, is going to be an expensive teenager.
M went for the Caramelized Onion Tart, more of a flatbread topped with crispy onions. Very tasty and enjoyed especially by little Elias. Quick word about the bread that came out with the appetizers. Bread is a good way to make a quick assessment of a restaurant. The sliced baguette was oven crisp, perfectly full of air pockets and served with rich butter shavings. Bread service the way you want it. Perfect.
Bouchon offers an array of sides to order, not necessary as the entrees come with sides, but as nice additions. For us, we used it as a kids menu. The french fries were some of the best I’ve had in Richmond, rivaling my favourite – Can-Can, crisp and clean served piping hot. We asked for some mayo on the side, the aioli that came out had a slight tint to it. Couldn’t identify the flavouring, and forgot to ask, but enjoyed it none the less. The Truffled Man-N-Cheese was also nice, not quite so overboard as some of the other offerings around town, but simple mac-n-cheese with a very identifiable truffle flavour. The kids were very happy.
For entrees M went with Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Duck Confit. Basically, a meat lovers dream. They managed the trick of cooking the bacon wrapped tenderloin properly to pink, rather than well done, leaving a lean and wonderfully basted piece of meat. The smoky duck confit countered the pork perfectly and left M very happy.
Me? I chose the Monkfish. Slightly crispy pieces of fish, moist and flaky inside. Cous-cous and a harrisa boullion complimented the fish perfectly for the cool spring evening. If you closed your eyes you might think you were eating lobster. Not really. Monkfish and lobster can, under some circumstances, taste similar but not here and lobster is much more stringy. This was simply an outstanding dish cooked perfectly.
The service…. Meh. It wasn’t bad but it was a little casual considering the formality of the dining room and the seriousness of the food. Nothing truly wrong but more what I would expect at lunch rather then dinner.
We would have stayed for dessert but Elias, not quite the trooper at dinner as Finn was at that age, hit his expiration and let out a rather obnoxious sound. M took him outside and I settled the bill. Two martinis, one bottle of wine, two entrees, two apps, two sides for the kids – $150. Not too bad and considering the food, it was worth it. I think we’ll have to return – and try the foie next time.