Our reservation was 5:30 pm, the restaurant’s opening time and we were eagerly awaiting on a bench outside the restaurant. I love walking into a restaurant as soon as it opens because you get to see all the empty tables set and ready to welcome guests and it feels a little exclusive when you are seated before anyone else is. The restaurant has only eight or nine tables so it feels very cozy and intimate. You can fantasize about being transported to your favorite French or Swiss town, or you can be happy and content that you are on this charming little island in Orang County called Balboa Island.
The restaurant opened punctually and all the staff seemed friendly and polite from the start. The table was set beautifully and I loved the napkin rings with their little fork, knife, and spoon. We were brought our menus and without skipping a beat asked what we would like to drink and soon thereafter brought out the amuse bouche and with that began this wonderful French-Swiss culinary adventure.
Amuse bouche – Feta Toast: The wonderfully crispy toast with the feta and briny olives had me salivating while hearing the crunchiness as I bit into it. Like every good amuse bouche, it was a tease and had me wishing for more.
Soup Du Jour – Mushroom asparagus: The soup of the day was a creamy mushroom asparagus with a very well-balanced flavor. Nothing was overpowering and it was not as salty as a lot of creamy soups out there.
Soupe A L’Oignon – Swiss onion soup gratinée with gruyère toast: The onion soup was one of the best I’ve had. It was also great on the salt and the bread in the soup gave it a great texture.
Sea Bass: This was the fish of the day and it was cooked perfectly where the fish feels almost buttery and the creamy sauce was light enough to not overpower the fish.
Steak Au Poivre – Grilled New York steak, black peppercorn sauce and baby vegetables: The steak had a goo flavor on its own, but the black peppercorn sauce is what really brought this dish to life. The vegetables were very flavorful as well. Often these are relegated to just being some extra fluff next to a juicy piece of meat, but this was not the case here: these veggies were great. The mashed potatoes on the dish were good, but I could have used about another bowl or two of these: they were quite good, and I liked that they seemed to have been squeezed out of some nozzle and topped with basil flowers.
Coq Au Vin – marinated, braised chicken, egg noodle and burgundy wine: I heard the name of this dish once when I was a child and I felt so fancy telling anyone about it. In the many years since I had a few versions of this dish and even cooked it myself (thank to Julia Child). I am therefore quite inclined to opt for this dish when I see it on the menu and this particular on was no disappointment and quite interesting. I’ve never had it with egg noodles before and it ended up being a very delicious addition. This too was also decorated with basil flowers.
Crème brûlée – This is a pretty standard dessert and one of my favorites. No matter how many times I’ve had it, I still get a tremendous joy out of breaking through that burnt sugar and digging out a spoonful of delicious creaminess with some bits of broken sugar and brining it to my mouth. This dessert here did not disappoint, but there was nothing unique or remarkable about this particular version. It was pretty standard and I am grateful for that.
Meringue with strawberry ice cream – This dessert was definitely more unique and I would highly recommend it! Given the choice between the two, I would still choose my beloved crème brûlée over this, no matter how standard and boring.
Once you’re done with your lovely meal, just enjoy the atmosphere of this cozy little restaurant and walk off your meal through the cute streets of this lovely Balboa Island.