Andre’s Bouchee Restaurant, Carmel [Review]

andree bouchee restaurant, Carmel CA

The highlight meal of our trip was at Andre’s Bouchee Restaurant and Wine Bar, a family run classic French bistro in the heart of Carmel. Although our first love is Vietnamese cuisine, not too far behind is classic French fare. There’s just something seductive about French cuisine and it turned out to the be perfect spot to celebrate our engagement and Kim’s birthday.

andree bouchee restaurant, Carmel CA

Bouchee, previously opened in 2003 under David Fink (currently of L’Auberge, Carmel) and Chef Walter Manzke (now chef of L.A.’s hottest French bistro, Church and State). In April 2009, Chef Andre Lemaire along with wife Elizabeth and son Stephan took over the restaurant and named it Andre’s Bouchee. The restaurant’s decor was inviting and cozy with very nice personal touches such as the seasonal table decor. But what really struck us was the open kitchen in the back of the restaurant (interestingly, Church and State also has a similar open kitchen as well) where you can get full view of Chef Lemaire and his team preparing your meal. There are even bar spots there, which on any other night, would have been our choice of seats. But we visited frequently and Chef Lemaire was more then personable, asking us if we’ll like to cook for him and engaging us in charming and witty banter only a Parisian chef of over 40 years experience could.

escargo 

Our first course was escargot with demi-glace, crushed hazel nuts, and puff pastry. This was arguably, the highlight of highlights of the night. We almost always order escargot and this was the best we’ve ever had. The plump escargot was delicious with the beefy home made demi-glace full of chunky garlic, shallots, and hazelnut. The puff pastry was a nice crispy contrast and our only wish was to have more bread or puff pastry to enjoy with the escargot and sauce. Church and State also had escargot in puff pastry, but in individual ramekins–pot pie like–which while good, were not even close to this.

 

sweetbreads 

Sweetbreads are another bistro fare we instinctively order as well. Chef Lemaire’s rendition is pan seared over a bed of fresh greens and sherry vinaigrette. Another winner–sweetbreads were tender and crispy and prepared perfectly. The salad and vinaigrette was a nice complement and nicely dressed, not overpowering or drowning out the sweetbreads.

 

duck confit

What’s a French bistro with duck confit? Ours came crispy skin on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, exactly how we liked it. A bed of scalloped potatoes–probably cooked in the duck fat and broccolini spears were a perfect complement. The portion of this was huge–we could have easily shared the two duck legs.

rack of lamb

But we didn’t and good thing because our last course, the roasted herb crusted rack of lamb was cooked to perfection–herbacious and fragrant crust and juicy pink lamb inside–again, with four hefty pieces we could have also easily shared this as well.

The service was attentive and wonderfully personal with Chef Lemaire’s wife Elizabeth running the front of the house and son, Stephan as the sommelier–who chose a very nice bottle champagne for us. We did have a delicious dessert which included a candle for Kim’s birthday even got some parting homemade pastries of truffles, meringue cookies, and candied grapefruit. The prices are very reasonable for the area and on par for French bistro fare in general. Overall, a great dining experience for us to celebrate our engagement and Kim’s birthday. We only wish the restaurant was here in L.A–but we’re already looking forward to celebrating anniversaries here in the future.

Andre’s Bouchee
Restaurant and Wine Bar
Mission Street (Between Ocean & 7th)
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921
831.626.7880 

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9 Responses to “Andre’s Bouchee Restaurant, Carmel [Review]”

  1. 1

    Jessica Lee Binder — November 23, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    We hope to go back to Carmel one day and this will be on our list. Everything looks perfect. Congrats again!!

  2. 2

    Fresh Local and Best — November 23, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

    This is a great review of a spectacular restaurant!
    The lamb and duck look amazing!!! I also love escargot. I've had trouble finding a memorable sweet bread experience, but I think that serving it on salad is quite complementary, and something I would definitely look forward to.

  3. 3

    Exile Kiss — November 24, 2009 @ 1:45 am

    Hi Ravenous Couple,

    Great pics and nice review. 🙂 I'll be keeping this one in mind when I'm in the area. Thanks.

  4. 4

    Ninette — November 24, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

    Hey, can you let me know how you got your lighting right in a restaurant?

  5. 5

    Ravenous Couple — November 25, 2009 @ 4:01 am

    jessica: It's very classic French fare, but done very well. Thanks again!

    Fresh Local and Best: Escargot was definitely great..we're hoping to get the recipe.

    ExileKiss: Thanks–do check it out if you're in the area.

    Ninette: We used ISO 1600 and had a 30mm F1.4, so the fast lens was the major factor. Also, in restaurants the lighting tends to have a yellowish cast, so adjust your color balance and levels. Hope that helps!

  6. 6

    Fresh Local and Best — November 25, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

    Just popping in to wish you guys a happy Thanksgiving!

  7. 7

    MrsLavendula — November 26, 2009 @ 7:54 am

    wow the rack of lamb looks wonderfully delicious!

  8. 8

    pigpigscorner — November 26, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    Congrats again! Nice review, would love to try the escargots and duck! Looks so good.

  9. 9

    Sweet and Savory — November 29, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    Congrats on your engagement.

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