Provençal Charm at Bouche

A tiny, less than 40 seat restaurant located atop the Stockton Tunnel, Bouche on Bush Street oozes Provençal charm and atmosphere. Open a little less than a year, owner Guillaume Issaverdens from Provence hired Chef Nicolas Borzee, a sous chef at Coi who has also worked under some very big name chefs in France, including Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse. Servers have French accents which adds to the French country atmosphere of the intimate restaurant.

As an Apéritif, we started with 2 glasses of Baron De Seillac Brut Rose, a sparkling wine made in Provence:

The Marinated Salmon, Poached Egg and Creme Fraiche dish arrived at the table looking like the salmon was set atop a bird’s nest:

The poached egg was hiding inside the nest made from fried phyllo dough shreds. The dish was very tasty, offering textural contrasts of crunch and soft. We thought that this would be a great brunch dish, but alas they are only open for dinner:

The Sardines, Grapefruit and Marinated Vegetables dish is worth coming back for. Hidden in the dish are 2 full size local marinated sardine fillets cured in grapefruit juice. Fried capers, fennel, grapefruit, dill, chervil and tiny brioche croutons accompanied the fish, providing different taste sensations with every bite:

The non-reserve wine list featured wines from lesser known regions in France. We were not familiar with many of the wines, and unfortunately, neither was the server. When we asked about the Terra Laura Rouge made in Chevernay, our server left to ask someone else about it and told us it was a Syrah wine that was served chilled. The bottle indeed arrived chilled, but post-meal research revealed that it was a blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Malbec. With more than a 2.5X retail markup and priced close to $50, the wine was decent enough, but not great:

We were pleasantly surprised to find Panisse Frites available on the menu. Outside of Frances in the Castro district, we do not know of any other restaurants that serve this fried chickpea flour fries. Stacked like a log cabin, the fries were served with a spicy house-made ketchup:

The Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly, Confit Pork Shoulder, Potato Purée , and Yellow Chanterelle dish is probably the richest dish we have eaten in a while. Both renditions of the pork were very tasty, and there was no lack of butter in the mushrooms and the potato. It seemed like a layer of rendered pork fat was poured over the dish which added to the richness overall. We wondered how a single person could finish this dish since it was plenty for 2 to share:

A view of the tiny kitchen in action from the top of the stairs (Lytro exposure set to 1/2 second):

The tiny kitchen is putting out some excellent food and service is efficient and friendly. The wine list is eclectic but seems to take advantage of the lower price of little known French wines from obscure regions. Markups are high which would be OK if the staff knew more about the wines – next time, we’ll break out the smart phones.

Update (Mar, 2013): Chef Borzee left in December and then was replaced by another chef who is also no longer with Bouche. It is unknown who their Executive Chef is at this time.

http://www.bouchesf.com/

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