I’ve long complained that Los Angeles lacks two significant dining scenes: seafood and French. I’m not going to get into my seafood bitching here (the long and the short of it is that for a city perched on the ocean, we have very few options — both in terms of dining and buying), but I will talk about French food because that’s really what this post is about. We have no French. Okay, there are a few bistros here and there, but in a town that runs from butter and carbs like the plague, French food just never seems to catch on. It’s a shame really because French food can be so damn good. Unhealthy, yes, but worth the indulgence once in a while.
That being said, the Hollywood area has lately seen some blips on the French radar. Café Des Artistes may have shuttered, but we now have Delphine, Palihouse Brasserie, Maison Richard, and Little Next Door, to name a few. Add to that growing list Papilles, a super cute little bistro that has taken over a former Raffallo’s Pizza restaurant on the corner of Argyle and Franklin. For merely reducing the Raffallo’s empire by one, I am grateful. I was invited to enjoy a media-comped meal at Papilles recently, and I can assure you the meal definitely took me to a happy place.
Headed up by Chef Tim Carey (Patina) and wine director Santos Uy (Mignon), Papilles offers up a unique dining experience for Hollywood. The menu is always prix fixe (around $33-$35) for a three course meal: appetizer, main, and dessert. Chef Carey builds a new menu once a week (usually on Wednesdays) from ingredients he finds at the market, and people wishing to eat at the restaurant can check out Papille’s website (papillesla.com) to see what’s being served any given day. It’s also a good idea to glance at the site’s FAQ section, especially if you’re vegetarian, as the restaurant does come with its own set of “rules” to follow. Don’t be intimidated though: it’s a pretty painless dining experience and based on what I ate, delicious too. Photos of the food after the jump…
Being the thorough blogger that I am, I neglected to take any photos of the actual restaurant, but suffice it to say, the space is very cute, as exemplified by the utterly delicious bread, served in a little red colander. I dig the presentation.
On the night that I visited Papilles, the kitchen served this foie gras starter for all the tables. There is no better way to win me over.
After the foie gras, our chosen appetizers came out. Someone at my table ordered this broccoli veloute with chanterelles. Broccoli isn’t my favorite of all time; so I opted not to order this soup, but after one taste, I wish I had. It great (especially with the chanterelles).
I instead opted for the escargot en croute. I’d never actually had this classic preparation of escargot before, and as I saw the butter glistening on the pastry, I could practically hear my mother disapproving of the cholesterol in my ear. Sorry Mom!
Needless to say, this dish was very tasty. And buttery. As much as I enjoyed it though, I still thought the soup was even better.
Next, our entrees. I was going to order a cassoulet because oddly enough, I’ve never actually had cassoulet, but at the last second I called an audible and went with this: skate wing meuniere, cauliflower, and brown butter.
This was undoubtedly the correct choice. It was just what I was in the mood for, and more importantly, the skate wing was divine. The skate wing was cooked perfectly with a texture I can only think to describe as being meaty with just the slightest bit of fun chewiness. I don’t think I could sound more pretentious if I tried. Wait: here I go. The mouthfeel was perfect. There. Even more pretentious. It’s dishes like these that make me sad that the menu changes every week. Keep an eye out for the skate wing, people.
The aforementioned cassoulet. This definitely was tasty, but it was the skate wing that j’adore. (See what I did there? I used French).
For dessert, we had a perfectly nice slice of apple tarte tatin.
A lemon tart was pleasantly zingy.
But it was the small brie de meaux cheese plate that had me happiest of all.
Hollywood folk who want some elevated bistro fare should most certainly make their way over to Papilles. Parking can be a bit rough with the small parking lot, but you can work it out. Definitely recommended for dates.