Every now and then you come upon a restaurant that is truly enjoyable, a place you would frequent regularly, but unfortunately is not in the city in which you live. The French Gourmet is that type of restaurant, located at 960 Turquoise Street • San Diego, CA 92109. We were visiting San Diego with friends recently and in searching for a nice restaurant to enjoy, The French Gourmet was well reviewed on the website Tripadvisor.
I will admit, I am far from the best judge of French food and maybe even a little biased against French cuisine. My bias is based upon purely irrational reasons such I am not a food snob, I prefer meal portions that leave me satisfied and well, I am an American and therefore maybe even a little self conscious that on some level our cuisine can be lacking at times.
The French Gourmet is located on a busy street in Pacific Heights and is part Bakery / Pastry Shop and French Bistro in Pacific Beach, maybe 10 minutes from Interstate 5. Directions to the restaurant are easy and there is no possible way to get lost. If there was one detraction from the location it is that finding a parking space is a little dicey and may take a few minutes. However, if this is the only negative element to the bistro, then this is not a reason not to go for a wonderful meal.
When you first walk in, you notice the display cases of pastries, breads and prepared sandwiches. I could have stopped right there and ordered. All the of food on display looked great. You then notice to your left that there is a section for seating, possibly being able to sit 48 customers at 12 tables. The environment is cozy, intimate and in my opinion is what a bistro is meant to convey. You are not exactly sitting on top of the other tables, but nor are you so far away that you feel that they are located in another zip code.
At first, I was a little put off by the dinner menu for I really did not see anything that immediately shouted “Order Me! Order Me!”. I was hungry, but not famished. In addition to this, I typically stay away from looking at the Beef selection of entrees on a menu out of personal preference. I love Beef, but am hesitant to order Beef in any place other then a steak house. It was not until my friend mentioned that he was going to order the Foie de Veau (Sauteed Calf Liver with Onions and Demi-Glace) did I have an inkling of what I was going to eat. Only then, did I know what I was going to order. I ordered the Foie de Veau and to start the meal I would have a bowl of Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee (French Onion Soup). After the meal was ordered, a basket of French Bread was served (perfection) and then the wine was ordered. The wine selected was a 2000 Chateau Haut-Beausejour, Saint-Estephe, Bourdeaux. I enjoy wine, but do not claim to know more then what I like. When I am introduced to a new wine, I can quickly determine whether or not I will look for this wine again. The 2000 Chateau Haut-Beausejour, Saint-Estephe, Bourdeaux was smooth and represented the difference between a good wine and a fine wine. I will be looking for this wine at Spec’s in Houston.
Fast forward to the French Onion Soup. It was excellent. Any other words used to explain the soup would probably ruin my ability to describe how really good was the soup. The entree was then served. I like liver, whether it is calf, chicken, lamb, duck or turkey. Most calf liver in the United States is served thin sliced in diners and then pan fried with caramelized onions and maybe bacon. The calf liver served at The French Gourmet was a unsliced portion of the liver that was most likely pan seared to be prior to being finished off Medium-Rare in the demi-glace. In retrospect, I should have ordered the liver Medium versus Medium-Rare, but this is not the fault of the restaurant. With the exception of the center of the liver being raw, the meat was so tender that it literally melted in the mouth. It was like eating pate, the liver was that smooth. The vegetables and the potato au gratin were perfectly done and were well paired with the liver. In short it was the perfect dish. We did not order desert, but then I was full. Who would have thought that I would have been full from eating a meal in a French Bistro?
I would not hesitate to eat this meal again and only wish that I lived closer to this restaurant or could find a restaurant like this near me on the west side of Houston.