La Bohème's chefs handcraft each meal using seasonal, local ingredients from organic farms, which fill the earth-toned restaurant with delicate aromas and contented sighs. The Paris-inspired café and full patisserie puts new pirouettes on classic dishes on a dinner menu that brims with dishes including the Assiette de la Marée, a grouping of six local oysters with a tangy mignonette sauce ($12). La Bohème's lobster bisque ($8) flaunts oceanic power as impressive as Poseidon's water wings, and diners delve deeply into a glass of Tangent sauvignon blanc ($9). Joyful teeth sink into the tenderness of the Jarret de Veau et Son Gratin, a cutlet of veal osso buco nestled up to delicate au gratin potatoes and ratatouille ($27). The more delicate lunch menu parades the Fisherman salad ($12), gleefully thrown fistfuls of Norwegian smoked salmon, roasted pepper, and dill dressing scattered across an adoring mass of veggies. Crêpes crowned with cherry compote, ice cream, and Nutella drop sweet curtains over filling events.
The menu and décor at Bistro Maxine are strongly influenced by bona fide French cafés. Francophiles will appreciate Bistro Maxine's casual approach to dining for pretention-free lunches and carefree dinners in the flavorful form of authentic crêpes, soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, cocktails, and ice cream. Those hampered by hunger will find the pièce de résistance in the selection of soft, warm crêpes, freshly scooped from imported griddles. Each is stuffed with winning combinations such as the Chèvre, with goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach ($9.00), or sweet concoctions such as banana and Nutella ($5) or the Normande ($7), a devilish blend of sautéed apples, Calvados, and rich crème fraiche. If you decide to sate this café, get totally Frenched with a kir royal (blackcurrant liqueur and champagne for $8) or a glass of house wine ($7). Or just drown sober worries with a bottle of house wine ($25).
European, Southeast Asian, and American culinary traditions all influence the unique fusion recipes at Vo's Restaurant. Vegetables and rice get simmered in traditional clay pots and prawns and lemongrass are seared in woks; there's even a deep-fried catfish filet with ginger-infused nouc mam, a dip made from fish sauce. The dining room is as colorful as the dishes, featuring warm red walls, bamboo sprouting from tall vases, romantic lighting overhead.
French food is more than escargot and brie-stuffed brie; it's other delicacies such as rabbit and duck too. Take your mouth on a trip to the City of Lights: for $10, you get a $25 Groupon for traditional French fare at Côté Sud, located at 4238 18th St. (between Diamond and Collingwood in the Castro).
Ever since first exposing raw ingredients to heat in 1991, the French have been expanding the possibilities of cuisine through subtle innovation. Today’s Groupon explores the virtuosity of French fusion with $40 worth of specially crafted food and drink at Panam for $20. This new restaurant in the Castro shows off its fanciful new digs with mouth-applauding tastes.
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.