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.
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.
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.
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.
Restaurant and Wine Bar
Mission Street (Between Ocean & 7th)
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921