Timeless French food is recreated with great regard for quality and technique at Thomas Keller's exuberant bistro, set down the street from his iconic The French Laundry. Complete with lush potted plants, shimmering brass accents and enormous mirrors, this dining room is the spitting image of Parisian chic. A theatrical crowd uplifts the space with conviviality, and every lavish banquette or stool at the bustling bar is full. Always.
Thanks to the house bakery next door, the bread here is ace, so grab an extra hunk of the supremely fresh and crusty pain d'epi to slather with butter. The menu lists well-executed classics, including that beloved platter of escargot, each coated with intensely flavorful and rich garlic-parsley butter and crowned by addictive little toques of flaky puff pastry. Moving on, braised lamb demonstrates the power of rustic French cooking, set over polenta with grilled young leeks and carrots.
Desserts are quite literally the icing on the cake and often the very definition of decadence. Even the humble pie is elevated here, to be served as an almond-spiced pear, glazed with juice and set over a tiny round of puff pastry matched with rich vanilla ice cream.- MICHELIN guide inspectors