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The first time I ate at Comme Ça, I hadn’t intended to eat at all. I’d come from brunch, intending only to pass the heat of a September day sipping chilled rosé from carafes. When I saw the selection of cheeses, however, even my distended stomach couldn’t dissuade me out of ordering some food.
I’ve been coming back regularly ever since, for all types of visits. During the day, you can sit near the window and snack on a duck confit salad as you watch shoppers tote their Alexander McQueen bags down Melrose Avenue. Or you could sit at the bar all night, and watch the drinksmith assemble prohibition-era cocktails, paying more attention to the ice — shaved for your mint juleps, or a single, giant cube that won’t melt as quickly into the fresh ginger in your “penicillin” — than the bartenders around the corner pay to the making of the drink.
But if you’re looking for the modern French bistro experience that is the restaurant’s hallmark, the best time to come is for dinner.
A photo of Julia Child hangs in the kitchen at Comme Ça, and, accordingly, classic French cuisine comprises most of chef-owner David Myers’ menu.
You could start your meal, for instance, with a salade frisée aux lardoons—the lettuce tossed with chunks of bacon, a light vinaigrette, and topped with a perfectly poached egg, the white nestled tenderly around the yoke, which, once pierced, glosses the rest of the salad.
Other aspects of the restaurant, however, have been updated from Julia’s time. The waiters wear short-sleeved, plaid button-down shirts, and in the hallway, Earnest Hemingway quotes about the joy of eating oysters have been chalked onto the black wall.
The beef bourguignon, too, has been deconstructed and reassembled. Instead of a beef shoulder served in the stew it was cooked in, with vegetables sautéed in bacon grease and an abundance of red wine sauce, the meat is set atop a layer of mashed potatoes, and topped only with a few carrots and a wine reduction sauce. The Comme Ca burger, meanwhile, serves as a reminder of Myers’ American roots, with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and onion and lettuce slaw. Both dishes showcase the meat itself — the beef shoulder is so tender you’ll wonder why the waiter gave you a knife, and the soft, creamy texture of the burger’s house blend of ground beef is enough to convert you to the gospel of higher-fat-content burgers.
Those with a sweet tooth can sample the crème brulee or pot du crème, both delicious. Or you could try one of the aforementioned cheese plates. But you won’t find anything more decadent and delectable than the foie gras appetizer special, which was served on a moist hazelnut pound cake, with a Meyer lemon confit and hazelnut brittle. The sweet, savory, and sour flavors work together to stimulate the taste buds I wasn’t aware I had — offering, like the restaurant, an experience at once traditional, surprising, and delightful.
Comme Ça. 8479 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood 90069. (323)782-1104.
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