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.
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.
Francophiles will appreciate Bistro Maxine's casual approach to dining, with pretention-free lunches and carefree dinners in the flavorful form of authentic crepes, soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, cocktails, and ice cream. Those hampered by hunger will find the pièce de résistance of soft, warm crepes freshly scooped from imported griddles. Whether savory or sweet, each crepe is stuffed with a winning combination, such as goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach ($9); banana and Nutella ($5); or the devilish blend of sautéed apples, Calvados, and rich crème fraiche known as the Normande ($7). A number of Continental potables are on hand to escort eats down dappled gullets—sip a kir royal (blackcurrant liqueur and champagne, $8) or a glass of house wine ($7), or drown sober worries with a bottle of chardonnay or Cote du Ventoux ($19).
The expert crêpe-rollers at K's Crêpes & Café ladle organic batter onto the griddle, sizzle until golden brown, and adorn the ensuing concoction with savory toppings or house-made whipped cream. Delight a savory-toothed uncle with naturally gluten-free buckwheat crêpes such as the Chelsea, a delectable mound of chewy swiss cheese, sautéed zucchini, and crisp spinach ($6.95). Morning-time diners can wash down a whole-wheat sweet crêpe with a cup of Mr. Espresso and a dash of powdered sugar, or bite into the New England Revolution, which arrives laden with peaches, vanilla gelato, and chocolate sauce like a camel being ridden by Santa Claus ($6.75). Omelets ($4.50+), lunch-friendly sandwiches ($5.25+), and house-made soups ($3.50+) are also available throughout the day.
La Bohème handcrafts each meal using only seasonal, local ingredients from organic farms to perfect each Francified bite. This upscale, Paris-inspired café and full patisserie serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to discerning taste buds, adding new pirouettes to classic dishes. Try beginning an evening with the Assiette de la Marée, a grouping of six local oysters with a tangy mignonette sauce ($12), or lunch elegantly on the popular Salade de Crabe, a fresh herb and organic lettuce salad with dungeness crab and an herby-citrus vinaigrette drizzled atop ($11). Crustacean lovers can order La Bohème's beloved lobster bisque ($8) and delve deeply into a glass of Tangent sauvignon blanc ($9), whereas terrestrial tasters can sink teeth into the Jarret de Veau et Son Gratin—veal osso bucco nestled up to delicate au gratin potatoes and ratatouille ($27).