In Les Misérables II: Final Justice, Jean Valjean is arrested for committing an even greater crime against French law: applying margarine to another man’s moustache during dinner without asking first. Feast around the proper tableside etiquette of France with today's Groupon: for $11, you get $25 worth of French-bistro fare and drinks at Chez Machin in the Hawthorne District.
Chez Machin is an independently owned bistro that began as a set of freestanding crêpe stands before finally taking a seat and settling into its comfy, permanent digs. The restaurant's classic French fare is made with fresh ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible and includes many options to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. Treat yourself to one of Chez Machin's prided crêpes—also known in France as '"flapjacques"—made with Bob's Red Mill organic buckwheat flour and natural eggs from cage-free chickens. La Villageoise crêpe blankets fried egg, mozzarella, feta, spinach, scallions, avocado, and pesto crème fraîche ($8.95), and sweeter "Crêpes Sucrees" options such as La Delice, which is elegantly filled with homemade Nutella custard and raspberry jam ($6.65), satisfy the part of your tongue that attracts honey bees.
In addition to its long list of crêpes, Chez Machin serves up savory breakfast tastes, classic café sandwiches, and a full bistro menu that will carry you through all the proper courses until you know every conjugation of "yum." Begin dinner with a bowl of Les Moules (mussels sautéed in garlic, shallots, white wine, and parsley, finished with a drop of cream, $11.95) or a fresh Salade Regime (mixed greens, Granny Smith apple, toasted almonds, Danish blue cheese, and house vinaigrette, $9.95), and then move on to a traditional plate of Boeuf Bourguignon (braised beef, bacon, potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, red wine, and herbs, served with puff pastry, $12.85) or seasonal ravioli ($11.95).
Chez Machin provides a beautiful backdrop for any rendezvous—just ask supposed arch-enemies Dr. Sunlight and Dr. Sconcelight as they dance like destined lovers in every nook and cranny of the airy bistro. Share a laugh with friends while sipping elegant French wine from Chez Machin's intimate interior and admire the quaint décor and original Gus Van Sant painting. Stop by on a warm summer afternoon or for a romantic day-date destination, enjoying the bistro's cozy patio and wondering why you’ve been scheduling your dates at night for all these years.
- Ooh-la-la. This cutesy French bistro/crêperie on the bustling Hawthorne District strip almost always exceeds expectations. Beyond an extensive list of sweet and savory crêpes are nifty quiches good for a man-sized appetite, tangy salads and incredibly awesome soups. – Willamette Week
- I love Chez Machin. I think they have the best crepes in Portland, coupled with a lovely wine list. Best of all they are very affordable and provide a lovely French cafe atmosphere perfect for intimate conversations with friends. – pdxava, Citysearch
- I love this place and come often. If coming on a weekend, be prepared for a truly french experience...don't expect instant service! It's well worth the wait, with friendly hard-working staff, old french standby's (French onion soup, Croque Monsieur, salade nicoise) as well as great savory specials with a NW touch. – yummers, TripAdvisor
- Fabulous. Highly recommended. The staff was helpful and knowledgeable and very sweet...The back patio is nice. – Josh McCarthy, Urbanspoon
Qualité de vie. That's what Chez Machin's owner Diane found while living in France, and on many days, that "quality of life" meant eating lots and lots of crepes. Diane has since returned to America, but she didn't completely leave France behind. After all, diners can often spot her sporting a trademark red beret, and her bistro's menu reads like a love letter to rural French cuisine.
That means crepes, of course. To make them, chefs layer ultra thin pancakes over sweet fillings such as the La Délice's nutella, vanilla custard, and raspberry jam. Savory crepes grant the option to build your own custom buckwheat or white crepes with fillings such as smoked salmon. Chefs venture into other areas of French cuisine as well, from croque monsieurs for lunch to boeuf bourguignon for dinner—either of which pair well with the bar's selection of beer, cider, and wine.
Yet for all of the French atmosphere, there's one part of Chez Machin that's decidedly stateside: the artwork. A desert abstract, created by film director Gus Van Sant, stretches along one side of the bistro's covered patio. Black and white paintings from local artists Yo and Peach Mutsu line the hallway, and other paintings and drawings rotate in and out of the dining rooms, turning the restaurant into an ever-changing art gallery.