When I learned Bardot was located above the Avalon I didn’t know what to expect. As far as venues go, the Avalon has a thick coat of charm. When I walked up the stairs to Bardot I felt like I had been whisked away to a place far away from Hollywood and Vine. The low light Mediterranean merged with roaring 1920′s era Art Deco decor made me feel like calling out “hey baby” to everyone I passed by with the tone of a purring tiger. This room has every right to be pretentious, but inspired a feeling that was warm and relaxing. I was joined on this night by the lovely Naomi McCormick who was sure to dazzle my sense of sight and sound. I found myself thinking that if the menu was as compelling as my guest, I was truly in for total sensory overload.
The staff at Bardot is a well chosen group. We were greeted by Stephanie Fessler who single handedly made our corner seat feel like home, not theirs, mine! Our trusty bartender concocted a clever tandem of cocktails, the Long Pipe (rum, pomegranate liqueur and pineapple juice) and The Pearl (tequila, mango liqueur and ginger liqueur) that really set the tone. Chef Jared Simons joined us briefly wearing skinny jeans and a cool demeanor that wouldn’t make you think he was running a busy kitchen in the back.
Now down to the menu, it was time to order. With ten non-dessert items on the menu, you wouldn’t think it would be so hard to pick a few. Yet, with every selection I knew there was something I’d regret leaving out. After much deliberation (and nearly a coin toss) we decided on the baby lettuce with house-made goat cheese, French lentils and hazelnuts, beef filet tartare, roasted butternut squash and baked macaroni. I felt pretty good about what was coming our way, renewed cocktails helped boost my faith. Now I don’t do this consciously, in fact it had to be pointed out to me that I am a rigid food separatist. So the ultimate compliment to a meal is when I am so impressed with everything that I go fork hopping from plate to plate, which was certainly the case this evening.
The first thing I tried was the beef filet tartare and I will concede it to be the best I’ve had! The pickled fennel and root beer marinade were subtle and played so well with peppers and onions. On the side was two slices of tasty toast. When Naomi said the bread tasted like it was toasted on a campfire I thought there must be some culinary term that might explain it better. Wrong, you just can’t argue or paraphrase that kind of warm feeling, campfire it is.
Just as the beef filet tartare was making me forget about the rest of my table and the rest of the world, Naomi proclaimed, “I’ve never had a candied hazelnut!” Her discovery diverted my attention to this tantalizing salad. The house-made goat cheese was like something from a dream that you can’t manage to explain with words. Luckily we didn’t have to speak and simply relied on REM-like telepathy to convey the word YES! to one another. With a hand like a hummingbird I moved on to the roasted butternut squash which was served in couscous. The roasted squash was accentuated well by the pumpkin seed oil and gave just the slightest bit of resistance in terms of texture. Raisins were a nice addition to this dish as they were cooked to the point of being soft with just a touch of sweetness. Knowing the macaroni was served hot, I gave it a few minutes to cool. By the time those few minutes ticked off, I was willing to burn my tongue on this baked goodness. The combination of Serrano ham and the nutty taste of gruyere cheese made this the perfect comfort food. I couldn’t get enough.
Bardot should get your immediate attention. The atmosphere combines competing levels of hip and cozy that you would think not possible. With DJs playing music quite low enough to talk over, but persuasive enough to catch you shaking your hips in your seat and with the live bands playing on the outside patio, you’ll want to stay well after dinner -if you can get on the guest list.
Located Above the Avalon Nightclub
1735 N. Vine St.
Los Angeles, CA 91791