There’s nothing I love more than dining out with fellow foodies. I love sharing meals with foodie friends, especially when we have the same taste in food and have perfect culinary chemistry. I love exchanging information and opinions about restaurant history and culture, about which dish we love at what restaurant, which chef left which restaurant to open up his/her own place, who trained with which culinary master, etc. And that is how I heard of the shocking news yesterday as I dined at Comme ça with one such friend.
Comme ça is a cute and lovely French bistro that chef David Myers opened up a year and a half ago in West Hollywood. He is most recently famous for the success of his restaurant Sona that he opened up in Los Angeles a few years ago. Sona was well known for its desserts that were created by his wife and pastry chef Michelle Myers. Her success led her to open Boule patisserie across the street where I used to buy macaroons and artisanal chocolates.
I drove by Boule the other day and noticed that it was vacant and closed down. What happened? Divorce, my friend Shirley told me yesterday, as we nibbled on French bistro-style comfort food in the spacious and beautiful dining room of Comme ça.
Gulp….gasp. Divorce. Yes, the restaurant world has just as much gossip worthy of being featured in Us magazine as Hollywood does. I’m sad to see Boule close down. It was such a charming patisserie and I loved their signature robin’s egg blue and chocolate brown color swatches. Their chocolate and sweets gift boxes made for wonderful presents.
But no time for lamenting, we must get back to the food.
For starters, Chef Creek oysters and Fanny Bay oysters from British Columbia.
The Chef Creek oysters were big and plump, and had a crisp lettuce taste with a briny finish. The Fanny Bays were smaller and flatter, with a light crisp cucumber finish. I really liked the Fanny Bays. They were so fresh, light and pleasant to eat. I could easily eat a few dozen of them in one sitting.
We ordered very classic French bistro comfort food- moules frites and steak frites.
The moules frites were cooked in a lovely pernod sauce with celery, onions, shallots, thyme and tarragon. I couldn’t get enough of the sauce, and kept lapping it up with their freshly baked piping hot baguettes. Pernod is a type of liqueur called pastis, which is produced from licorice plant or anise. It clouds up with the addition of water, which is what probably gave the sauce a white/yellow opaque color. Ricard is one of the most famous French brands of pastis. I had it for the first time, ironically, in the middle of the African bush in Liberia. When I was doing medical humanitarian work in 2006 in West Africa, one of the French ex-pats Guillaume brought a bottle of Ricard with him. He cradled it very carefully in his arms as if holding a baby, and brought it all the way from Paris. We all have those few comfort items that we just cannot live without. For him, Ricard was one of them. The night he arrived, we stayed up all night long talking and laughing while smoking Guinean cigarettes and drinking straight Ricard, in the middle of the West African jungle. I have such fond memories of those days!
The steak was a prime flat iron center cut, grilled perfectly medium (though I ordered it medium rare) topped with tarragon butter and accompanied by one of my all time favorite foods in the world- pommes frites with aioli. The pommes frites were done just how I like them- long, thin, and crispy.
Shirley, being a huge dessert buff, took a really long time deciding which dessert to have. Strawberry clafoutis? Chocolate pot de creme? We followed our waiter’s recommendation and ordered the chocolate brioche bread pudding. It was really rich, thick and sweet. I felt like I was biting into a bar of chocolate (but that’s just me, I don’t have a sweet tooth). The vanilla ice cream was delicious. Shirley didn’t seem too happy with the waiter’s choice, and was regretting not following her heart and ordering the pot de creme. There’s always a next time.
I recommend this restaurant not only for the food, but for the ambiance. The dining room is absolutely beautiful and has such character. White leather benches with bright red cushions, antique mirrors on one side of the wall, and cookbooks on the other side which is flanked by the liquor bar and the cheese bar. If you want French comfort food, you will find it here at Comme ça.
Random trivia: Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, a 40 year old, petite 105 pound Korean-American female competitive eater (that is her actual occupation) holds the current world record for oyster eating. She ate 46 dozen oysters in 10 minutes. Her most famous win is for 37 hotdogs in 12 minutes. She is ranked 5th in the world for competitive eating. She is single.