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The original La Cachette Bistro was located in a charming house on Santa Monica Boulevard, known as “the hideaway” in Century City. Now located in Santa Monica, chef Jean-Francios Meteigner has transformed La Cachette Bistro from a California French restaurant, to a more casual French Tapas eatery.
Walking up to the ground floor of an office building and across the street from Le Merigot Beach hotel and spa, the bistro presents clean, modern lines.
Fabrice, the manager, shared with us that they are in the process of redecorating to appeal to a younger crowd with a more reasonably priced menu, from $4 – $12 for tapas, and $19-$27 for main courses.
The main dining room was filled with lively and boisterous diners the Saturday night we visited. On Friday and Saturday evenings after 9 p.m., guests receive 30 percent off their bill while enjoying French tapas and cocktails in the dining room.
We started with a fresita – a blend of slightly sweet Chilean sparkling wine and fresh strawberries from Patagonia. The Ocean Flower cocktail had Resposado tequila, elderflower liquor and a large basil leaf floating on top. It looked like a martini, yet tasted like a margarita.
Chef Meteigner came out of the kitchen and delivered a plate of dark truffle chocolates with a dollop of caviar and crème fraiche. I found the sweetness of the chocolate and crème fraiche offset the saltiness of the domestic caviar.
Our first dish was a generous portion of sautéed foie gras, perfectly complemented by an apple corn polenta brulée. Next, a homemade foie gras terrine with rhubarb gelee and two slices of housemade brioche toast arrived, a delicious and rich with a pleasant rhubarb flavor.
Warm steamed clams arrived in an Asian inspired ginger and garlic broth. Slightly blackened swordfish belly was delivered with a wasabi and ginger mash. The belly is richer tasting than a swordfish steak, and is perfectly portioned. An adorable copper pot filled with chicken oysters – the delicate morsel of meat found in a small cavity of the back of a chicken, is served “coq au vin” style with red wine, bacon, peas and carrots. When I inquired about chicken oysters, Fabrice said they are a delicacy, and if you’ve never tasted the dish, you should try it. It was very tender, yet the bacon flavor dominated the dish.
Our last tapa was the baby back ribs with a housemade raspberry vinegar BBQ sauce. Baby back ribs in a French restaurant? They were tasty and arrived on a bed of lentils.
Since the portions were small, we were open to trying a few of Meteigner’s desserts. The rum baba was a small cake bathed in rum with crushed pineapple and a little cream on top. Next, we tasted a house-made mint flavored marshmallow with chocolate sauce drizzled on top and decorated with tiny and sweet fresh strawberries. The pi`ece de résistance was the crêpe suzette topped with lemon cream. It was my favorite, and satisfied my sweet tooth.
Meteigner has adapted his menu to also have many gluten-free dishes, and can accommodate diners’ requests.
Foodies may enjoy Meteigner’s once a month cooking class in his kitchen. Classes are held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a sit-down lunch and wine for $125 per person. On March 26, he will offer a salt and fresh water fish class. Guests will learn how to identify quality fresh fish to poach, grill and sauté in various sauces.
La Cachette offers updated traditional French fare in smaller portions and more reasonable prices. Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m; dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. 1733 Ocean Ave. (310)434-9309. www.lacachettebistro.com.
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