Fans of Josette LeBlond’s fresh baguettes, pâté, pastries and desserts from her Normandie Bakery space in the Original Farmers Market will be happy to learn the French chef is back in the Melrose area. LeBlond recently acquired the former bistro Maison Richard and rebranded it as Chef Josette Bistro, and now she’s back serving up her classic French fare.
LeBlond is the delightful creator of the Normandie brand, which produces one ton of pâté and 1,500 baguette loaves a day, and delivers to bakeries and restaurants across Southern California.
I recently brought my family to LeBlond’s newest restaurant to welcome her back to the neighborhood. As soon as we walked into the dining room, the chef appeared with her trademark enthusiasm, exclaiming she is living the “French-American dream” with this new space.
LeBlond recommended we start with a plate of her famous and delicious pate served with slices of her freshly baked French baguette. We paired this with a kir royale cocktail and glass of sparkling rosé wine.
As we sipped our drinks, we savored the dining room’s charming ambiance. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the bistro offers live music every Saturday. The night we popped in, two musicians named “Les French Toasts” were set up in front of a sparkling Eiffel Tower art piece.
Looking over the menu, we each discovered some of our favorite traditional French dishes. The chef is also known for her famous beef and lamb merguez sausages. The small casing and perfect color of these sausages are superb, and they are served with a dollop of Dijon mustard and frites – in true French fashion.
We first tried the scallops, which were topped with an ethereal sauce. For the entrée, I ordered the Provençal salmon, while my daughter chose a savory crêpe and my husband ordered the boeuf bourguignon.
My daughter’s crêpe arrived first, not as flat as many crêpes, but bundled in a floral shape and filled with chicken, mushrooms and a pleasing béchamel sauce. The plate also featured sliced tomatoes and a salad maison of mixed greens with a tangy basil vinaigrette.
My salmon arrived on a bed of lovely and colorful vegetables. Sitting next to our table, a father and son raved about the dish. They had driven all the way from Laguna Beach to dine at the bistro and, as they told us, were already planning on returning, just for the salmon. After tasting the perfectly cooked fish, I completely agreed with them.
The boeuf bourguignon was so much more than just a beef stew. The dish had tender pieces of beef marinated in red wine and was slowly cooked with mushrooms and carrot medallions. Presented in a circular white bowl, it was divine.
We finished with an array of LeBlond’s famous desserts, including the crème brûlée with powdered sugar and a strawberry floret on top. My husband’s favorite was a slice of mille-feuille made with layers of puff pastry alternating with layers of pastry cream. The top pastry layer was glazed with deliciously sweet icing and chocolate stripes. I also enjoyed the creamy cheesecake decorated with raspberries on top, and a spherical French mousse cake covered with a shiny red mirror glaze. Both were exquisite.
Moms will especially enjoy dining at Chef Josette Bistro on Mother’s Day. Start with a kir royale or chilled glass of wine while nibbling on a flakey croissant. Entrées include a healthy egg white omelet or the Campagnarde omelet with bacon, Swiss cheese and potatoes. Other specialties include the Moroccan omelet, eggs Benedict, French brioche toast, quiche Lorraine, croquet-monsieur and croquet-madame. Bon Appétit!
$$ The bistro is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and closed on Mondays. 707 N. Stanley Ave., (323)655-7777.
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