Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Foodventure #21: French 75 (Burbank)

After my recent experiences at Chat Noir, I wasn't too horribly excited by the prospect of going to another David Wilhelm's Culinary Adventures establishment - but my dining companion insisted, so off we embarked to French 75 in Burbank (there are a few others in the LA/OC area.)

Situated next to Time Warner Bros. studio (and being a skip and a hop away from Disney Channel, ABC & NBC affiliates' offices,) the place teeming with entertainment execs and agents hobnobbing in the dark bar & dining area over live jazz music and champagne cocktails, which this place is famous for. Maybe I should've dropped a line or two about developing a series about the world of food bloggers . . .

From the start (and throughout the rest of the meal), I'm glad to report the service here was nothing like what I went through at Chat Noir - the staff was friendly, professional and prompt. While we were examining the food menus, the waitress took our drink order: Iced tea for the DC, and a Marie Antoinette champagne cocktail for me:

Yes, it's in a martini glass - and no, it didn't taste like what I'd expected to; that's because I got served a French Cosmopolitan instead. It was still good (made with Grey Goose & Grand Marnier,) so I had a few extra sips before sending it back . . .
Ah, there it is! With champagne (generic ones, I'm sure), Grand Marnier, blood orange & blackberry puree -- look there's even a blackberry to resemble the ex-monarch's cranial stump! Possible grotesque mental images aside - this drink was delicious, and I'd probably down a few more if not for the $11/glass pricetag (which, by the way is halved during their happy hours.) My DC ordered an iced tea, which turned out to be the bottled kind from Republic of Tea (one of my more favored brands among mass-produced teas.)

Properly quenched, we proceeded with our food order - first starting with:
Foie gras terrine with sweet garlic gastrique and brioche toast strips, with olive oil/balsamic & microgreens. Not nearly as delicious as the grilled foie gras at Chat Noir, my first thought when that cold lump was served to me was "Fancy Feast?" But after spreading on the toast with the gastrique, I was reminded of the simultaneously heavenly & sinful taste that is foie gras - duck-flavored butter with the mildest hint of liver - soft enough to spread onto the toast strips with the sweet gastrique.

This was followed by the . . .

Lobster beignets with chive fries and aioli dip - looked more interesting on the menu than it tasted ~ if I didn't know beforehand I wouldn't have placed the meat as lobster - a bit soft, a bit bland, a bit like chicken. The fries and dip are good but unremarkable.
Moving on to the main course: roasted rack of lamb with sweet garlic sauce, fingerling potatoes and asparagus - a wonderful meal all around, the lamb had a slightly gamey taste, roasted just right (medium, even though the server suggested rare) and was very juicy. The accompanying veggies are also properly cooked ~ perhaps just a tad too greasy.
We also got a plate of green beans almondine in hazelnut butter, supposedly the lightest cooked veggie side dish they have. The beans had a crisp snap, and the nutty, buttery flavors of sauce and the toasty almonds complemented the fresh, green taste of the beans well.

Halfway through our main dishes, we were asked if we'd like to order their famous chocolate souffle for two (which takes about a half-hour to bake) ~ since DC isn't much of a dessert eater and I am unsure if my stomach can handle it, we passed on that - and opted to split a single serving, quicker-prepped dessert later:
Cheesecake Creme Brulee - again, a course that is better in concept than execution. It was overall too sweet (though not so much if eaten with the tart berries), but without the silky smoothness of a creme brulee or the aromas or flavors of sweet ricotta/mascarpone cheeses. Simply too bad, esp. given how I'm a sucker for most sweet dishes.

The bill (approximation):
Bottled iced tea: $4
Marie Antoinette: $11
Foie Gras: $18
Lobster Beignets: $13
Rack of Lamb: $37
Cheesecake Creme Brulee: $8
pre-tax/tip total: $91

Ambience: 4.5/5 (it seems F75 & the other culinary adventure restaurants rank high in this, but the decor and mood is truly wondrous - good use of furniture, lighting, patio areas & live music to boot.)
Value: 2/5 (even after considering the quality of ingredients used, I can't help but feel that I'm a little bit jipped by the meal. My DC, who works in the food industry, agreed that the dishes ordered should not command that high a price tag.)
Service: 8.5/10 (overall good, and markedly improved over my other CA experience - service lagtime is longer than preferred, but the restaurant was a full-house.)
Food: 12.5/20 (a mixed bag all around, but a definitely downer for a lack of a healthful non-salad dish.)
TOTAL: 27.5/40 (I would probably re-visit for happy hour & bar eats; not likely for a full-on meal)

3400 W Olive Ave
Burbank, CA 91505
(818) 955-5100


Chubbypanda said...

Feeling gypped seems to be a fairly standard response to a Culinary Adventures adventure. Even factoring in overhead for ambience and service the ROI always comes out too low for me.

- Chubbypanda

Anonymous said...

I agree somewhat w. chubbypanda - A good ROI is difficult to find in high end places - I think my tune would change were I loaded.


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