Je T’aime Chez Papa

I had made a reservation at Chez Papa Resto for Dine About Town only to find out shortly after that they weren’t participating for dinner, so I changed the reservation to Chez Papa Bistrot instead.  I have heard a lot of good things about Chez Papa which is why I picked it, but until I was notified about the change for Dine About Town, I didn’t realize there were two.  Supposedly, according to the maitre’d, the main difference between the two is size, but from what I can tell, Resto seems to be fancier and slightly more formal in ambiance and presentation (at least that is what I saw from the outside).  Bistrot is a bit more on the casual side and has a cozier, more intimate vibe. Never having eaten at Resto, I can’t say much about the food, but Bistrot’s menu seems short, simple and very much like a French bistro.  We decided to do the DAT menu which gave us an appetizer, entree and dessert for the bargain price of $34.95.

The Mussels Provencale were steamed in a broth of spring garlic, shallots, cherry tomatoes, nicoise olives and pastis. The mussels were a very good size and well-steamed…. not a an unopened shell in the bunch, but the broth was FANTASTIC!  It was truly the highlight of the dish. Many a times, I find myself finishing a whole basketful of bread in order to slurp up all the tasty soup, but I really wanted two baskets with this broth.  It was very unique tasting, rather hard to describe… but undoubtedly the most flavorful mussel broth I’ve probably ever had.  Highly recommended!

The other appetizer was Kobe Beef Tartare which was prepared with dijon mustard, ketchup, parsley, shallots, capers, cornishons and a quail egg on top.  I don’t often eat beef tartare, but then again, you don’t see it on as many menus as you do tuna tartare.  However, this was really very good.  I was a little hesitant seeing the raw quail egg cracked on top, but it all went very well together. I liked it.

The Roasted Alaskan Halibut was served with a saffron beurre blanc on a  crispy polenta cake and piquillo peppers and topped with eggplant frites.  The fish was firm but well-cooked, not too dry and surprisingly seasoned enough to taste good on its own but even better when each bite included the polenta, vegetables and dabble of the beurre blanc.  The polenta was good, but the eggplant frites were very interesting.

The Roasted Pork Tenderloin was prepared with pink lady apples, brussel sprouts and a combination of rutabaga puree and mustard sauce.  The pork tenderloin was moist and juicy.  Although I liked the apples, the mix of veggies including the brussel sprouts weren’t my favorite. It was different tasting, especially the rutabaga puree where I’m still left wondering if I liked it or disliked it.  I think it was a very different mix of flavors and I’m not sure how I feel about it.  Not bad, but not exactly great either.

The Apple Tarte Tartin was okay. I think the apple pieces were a little too big and chunky and the crust, although tasty, wasn’t as flaky as what I’ve had in the past.

The Lavender Creme Brulee was interesting. It had a nice lavender flavor infused in the creme brulee, but aside from that, I didn’t find the it that interesting. It was like almost every other caramelized sugar topped pudding dessert.

Overall, I was really happy with the restaurant.  First of all, I don’t often eat French food mainly because it tends to be a little more formal and fancy, so I feel like it’s more of a special occasion type of place.  However, every time I do get a chance to eat French, I’ve never been disappointed, and Chez Papa Bistro was no different. The mussels and beef tartare were very delicious, and the entrees overall were well done.  The restaurant itself is cute and cozy and located along 18th St (which is the main street with a bunch of shops and restaurants) in Potrero Hill.  I was definitely happy with the DAT choice, and I would highly consider coming back.

Chez Papa Bistrot
1401 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

PAFO Ratings for Chez Papa Bistrot:
Price 3½ stars
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars

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