French 75 in 2007
The French 75 chain embraces nine restaurants throughout Southern California. They refer to their offerings as “Bistro Comfort Food” but their settings are elaborate, very comfortable, sparkling places. At least that’s how I found their beautiful Burbank bistro. Here, dining can take place in their lovely rectangular dining room or al fresco, in a most romantic courtyard.
The dinner menu is exceedingly large with many choices in the “Soups and Salads”, “Small Plates”, “Sandwiches”, “French 75 Specialties”, “Crepes”, “American Steaks”, “Bistro Comfort Food”, “Potato Dishes”, and “Side Dishes” categories. Of the twelve different dishes we tasted, the overall rating would be an A-, a fantastic score for any medium-priced restaurant with such a large, diverse menu.
Let’s get specific: I love crab cakes and Chef Ryan’s concoction may well be the finest I have ever tasted. It’s loaded with fresh crab in a crispy, tasty batter, lying in a pool of corn pepper sauté and a spicy Provencale aioli. Equally wonder-full was his Dungeness crab salad with avocado and tomato torte Louis. The chilled gulf shrimp and horseradish gazpacho, unfortunately, took the preceding A+ dishes down a few pegs. Fran’s wedge was a solid hunk of center-cut iceberg lettuce with some of the creamiest, chunky Roquefort dressing around. Our basket of warm French bread, cut thick with olive whipped butter, accompanied each of the appetizers beautifully.
Sherrod, our handsome, attentive server gave us sufficient time to digest our first dishes before appearing with our entrees. My wife chose the John Dory which can be found on the menu but was a “Featured Special” that evening. Prepared in hazelnut butter with forest mushrooms and pommes puree, its essence reached us before her first bite. She reported that the fish was perfectly prepared, the mushrooms were delicious and the pureed potatoes were smooth and satisfying.
My sky-high assemblage of rack of lamb (four double-cut chops) was about as beautiful as anything I have experienced. They were resting on an enormous, champagne battered, center cut onion ring which also was one of the most delicious I have ever tasted. Enormous sides of creamed petit white corn and butternut squash with sage and truffle oil accompanied our entrees, as requested. I ordered Pommes Frites to replace the fingerling potatoes and, unfortunately, they were the thin kind which get cold all too quickly – and they did.
Although we had no more room, their dessert menu offered chocolate soufflé with cointreau cream, crepes, an apple and cranberry tart, crème brulee and raspberries Melba, as well as an artisanal cheese plate.
I have not found portion size, quality and freshness evident in a restaurant of this price-range very often. When it happens, it can only mean one thing: this will be a place I can rely on and will come back to again and again.
When you go, please remember this one rule: tell ‘em Josef sent you for they like me very much at French 75.
French 75 Bistro, 3400 W. Olive Avenue, Burbank CA 91505, Tel. 818-995-5100
Open for lunch and dinner, Excellent wine selection, Dinner for two approx. $60 w/o alcohol