Saturday 14 July, 2012

Papilles for Bastille: Formidable!


I've been putting off posting about Papilles, and I'm not quite sure why, but it might have something to do with not wanting such a cozy little gem to get overwhelmed. I shouldn't be so selfish.

Set in the most unlikely strip mall storefront imaginable, the little bistro expresses the simplicity of its goals with such elegance that it's nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than the perfect neighborhood "boite." That it's neighborhood is the middle of Hollywood (or nearly, on Franklin inches shy of the 101 freeway) makes it even more unexpected.

For every fake, trendy, overpriced, under-delivering resto-lounge-concept in Hollywood, Papilles is the antidote. Inspired by the French Bistronomique trend, restaurateur Santos Uy (Bacaro, Mignon) convinced childhood friend Tim Carey to leave Patina and come cook, in an open kitchen, elegant food for a casual room.

Papilles ('tastebuds' en Français) does things simply: the menu changes weekly, inspired by what Carey finds at markets and in his own garden, and consists of a three-four course prix fixe menu (two options for each course) for around $30. They post the menus online, so you know what to expect before arriving. Wines to match are priced perhaps even more reasonably, some by the glass, but mostly by the bottle, which are plucked from a wall where they are marked up far less than in the average restaurant. In fact, to some extent, the food might seem like accompaniment to the wines, many of them discoveries from small producers.

Carey is doing a special menu for Bastille Day tonight, which on the surface seems to be a purely classic selection. But no doubt he will put some creative twists on it and Uy will uncork wonderful Vins to match.

I. French Onion Soup or Frisée Salad with French Radishes

II. Moules Frites or Steak Frites

III. Camembert or Chocolate Mousse

[The price is $30, with carafes to match at $12 each; you should do as I did and order one of each selection for you and your table mate]

Here's some pics of a very different meal I had, just to give you an idea of how Chef Tim likes to do things:

Thank goodness Papilles is not in my neighborhood, or I'd be running up an awful tab there. If you live closer, you have no excuse. Go once, and you'll be hooked.