A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself—designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas—remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.
Executive chef Vanessa Dang follows up her first blockbuster of French-inspired Vietnamese dishes with this intimate sequel promising elegant small-plate options and explosive flavors. The menu pokes sleepy taste buds with shareable small plates such as maple-leaf duck-confit lettuce wraps ($9) and tuna-and-salmon poke with ginger, avocado, mango, and cucumber-and-tomato salsa ($9). Full-sized entrees combine intercontinental palates with mouth-warping orders of cumin-marinated jumbo prawns and garlic noodles ($16) or a rack of lamb marinated with Dijon-mustard peppercorn in a Bing-cherry reduction ($25). Fill out abridged meals with a glass from the saga-worthy, 150-bottle wine list or a sweet-tooth-regaling Fuji-apple-and-coconut egg roll ($8).
The two chefs at Cypress rely on more than following great recipes when crafting their fine French foods. They meticulously prepare every batch of béarnaise sauce and pot of coq au vin using sustainable, organic California ingredients as often as they can. They also take pride in their artful, festive presentation, serving their dishes tableside style on gueridons whenever possible and Cirque du Soleil style when they remember to bring their leotards. Servers, meanwhile, toss salads, sizzle up new york steaks with brandy, and ignite strawberry flambés.
A neon-pink sign beckons diners into the Sweet Spot shop, where a counter stocked with colorful treats and toppings awaits. The staffers behind the counter adorn ice cream and frozen yogurt with fruit and candy as they keep an eye on the sweet and savory crepes that sizzle on grills. They also top off cups with boba tea and smoothies. Tabletops are scattered across the shop’s interior, where cheerful, checkered decor and an absence of wild boars squealing and knocking over chairs create a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
Little Red Bistro, an idyllic café splashed in vivid crimson accents, suffuses its intimate interior with eyelid-unfurling aromas wafting off three kinds of espresso. As the sun inches over the horizon and the boogeyman dives beneath the bed, the bistro’s chefs fold 17 kinds of crepes, ranging from sweet creations stuffed with peanut butter and jelly to savory pockets piled with green eggs and ham. Golden sear marks color seven piping-hot paninis that swaddle gourmet ingredients such as prosciutto, pesto, and roasted red peppers. Sips of frappes flavored with white chocolate and irish cream forge a fitting accompaniment to the café’s homemade desserts, which rotate daily.
At Mango Star, patrons can lounge on an outdoor patio while sipping sugary bubble teas, fruit-packed smoothies, and thin, flavorful crepes from a menu that overflows with coffee and café fare. Apply $6 per visit toward hot or cold blended tea ($2.75–$3.75), in flavors such as honeydew, jasmine green, and passion fruit, served with optional tapioca pearls freshly plucked from the mouths of seaside tapioca mollusks. Airborne forks can rip open savory crêpes with gusto, revealing chicken, tomato, pesto, and cheese ($5.95), or gourmet avocado, mushroom, onion, tomato, olives, and cheese ($5.25). Sweet crêpes arrive crowned with powdered sugar and whipped cream and boasting coats of strawberry nutella ($5.25), peach and ice cream ($5.95), and the sweet and tart trifecta of strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry ($6.50). Free WiFi and an outdoor patio let patrons browse favorite dog-fashion blogs while sipping espresso ($2.75+) and gourmet coffee ($1.50–$1.75).