Francophiles who find themselves in the Bay Area are in luck. You can choose to start your day off with a rose croissant at Voyageur du Temps in Los Altos, California or snag an assortment of fresh macarons from Mademoiselle Colette in Menlo Park, California. Come dinner time, it’s tough to beat the traditional French fare at La Bohème on South California Street in Palo Alto.
La Bohème’s menu (which is presented in both French and English) features a number of classic French favorites like soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup). The restaurant also typically offers a number of plats du jour (daily specials) ranging anywhere from coq au vin (a typical dish you’ll find in Burgundy that consists of chicken braised in red wine and served with rice and vegetables) to sole amandine (which involves bathing a delicate filet of fish in a delicious lemon butter and then topping it with almonds).
Each meal kicks off with a serving of fresh baguette and what I like to call La Bohème’s magic butter. (The magic is actually red wine marinated garlic, olive, black pepper and salt.)
We ordered the Saint-Jacques à la provençale. The pan seared scallops in the dish arrived perfectly cooked and were topped with garlic, tomato and parsley butter.
Next up was a dish that truly made us feel as though we we could have just as easily have been at a bistro in Le Marais. During lunch La Bohème actually serves up four different variations of moules frites (mussels and fries). There’s a version served in garlic and white wine sauce, another one in a mustard cream sauce, a cajun cream sauce and also a Roquefort cream sauce take on the dish.
In addition to La Bohème, here’s a list of other neat little local spots we love across the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
During dinner, only the cajun and white wine sauce versions are available. Hint: The easiest way to eat this dish is to use one of shells as a tool to extract the juicy goodness out of all the rest of the mussels. (Rachel Phipps wrote a great post on her blog about how to do this, “Eating Out: How To Eat Mussels.”)
If you’ve saved room the tarte tatin is a lovely take on the French apple tart and is served à la mode (with ice cream).
The food that executive chef Jacques Zagouri serves up is delicious. La Bohème’s top notch service comes courtesy of Malek Kaci (the restaurant’s general manager and co-owner) and his team (Philippe did a fantastic job taking care of our table last night). If you’re lucky, maybe one of the French speaking waitstaff will even let you practice your foreign language skills on them. Whether you’re looking for a date night fix or a mini staycation in France without leaving the country, La Bohème in Palo Alto is sure to fit l’addition (the bill).
Address: 415 South California Avenue
Palo Alto, California 94306
Hours: Breakfast/Brunch on Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 2:30pm, Lunch – Wednesday Through Friday 11:00am to 2:30pm, Dinner – Tuesday Through Saturday 5:00pm to 9:30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Phone: (650) 561-3577
Pricing (All in USD): Omelets $13.00 to $15.00, Eggs Benedict $13.00 to $16.00, French Toast $12.00 to $14.00, Pancakes $11.00, Sandwiches $14.00 to $15.00, Salads $8.00 to $15.00, Appetizers and Small Plates $8.00 to $24.00, Entrees $19.00 to $35.00, Mussels and Fries $19.00