Dining

Restaurant Review – The French Gourmet

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(4 out of 5 starfish)

Many kids are not adventurous in their culinary tastes.  That goes the same for some adults.  I hope to change that with my reviews, so that they can find out the great things they are missing out.  Hopefully, they will be brave enough to try different foods, and, with luck, enjoy them!

My mom said I have a rather advanced palate for a 10-year-old, and I never order from the kids menu.  This review of The French Gourmet is my first published restaurant review, after reviewing many movies and events.  The French Gourmet is certainly living up to its name, with superior quality, variety, and reasonable prices ($25 for a 3-course meal).  My parents and I visited the restaurant on an early Saturday evening.

Perry Chen with French Gourmet waiter Stephane Trawalter

The French waiter Stephane and Restaurant Captain Michael were friendly and loved to engage in conversation.  Stephane was knowledgeable and gave excellent recommendations on food pairings.  I was also impressed by the fact that he knew Michel Ocelot, the French animation master whom I interviewed and became good friends with last year.

We tried three appetizers: the veal sweetbread (a crunchy bread-encrusted thymus) with artisan sausage, escargot a la Bourguignon (snails broiled in garlic butter), and my favorite, the Pate Maison Sampler, which has chicken, duck, and pork (country) pate.  Stephane said that if you spread some pate on the bread, add some sweet onion marmalade, and a pickle, it is the “best bite of heaven!”  I tried it, and believe me, I will never forget that first rich, sweet, tangy bite.  The many flavors collided in my mouth in an exciting but complementary way.  Even the pickle, which I normally do not like to eat, gave it a tangy zest!  I am sure French chefs believe “the secret is in the sauce,” because their sauce is unbelievable.

This is the first time I tried escargot.  I didn’t care for it much because it was a little too bland.

One of the entrees we got was the catch of the day, Mahi Mahi.  The succulent fish flaked off and melted in my mouth (how did chef Ryan Tuskan do that?).  The braised duck leg in cherry sauce had the most tender meat, but the best overall entrée was the Cabernet Braised Short Ribs with natural jus (sauce) reduction.  The meat was moist, had no fat, no bones, and the sauce was so rich and flavorful.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were the best, as suggested by Stephane.

Most of the food here was spectacular, after all, they have been doing this for over 31 years.  But it wasn’t complete without some dessert!  A waitress brought out a plateful of tantalizing desserts (see photo).  We chose chocolate mousse cake, tiramisu, and crème brulee.  I loved the first two, so did my mom.  I thought that if the crème brulee were a bit richer, and not thin and chunky, it would have been better.

The French Gourmet actually specializes in catering, which was how I found out about it in the first place at a private party Rancho Santa Fe this summer.  A nice lady named Orsika from The French Gourmet served tasty food at the party.  We had delightful conversations about food and movie reviews.

At the dinner, we met the friendly owner, Michel Malecot, who came by to say hi.  The restaurant had lovely décor.  Scenes from French vineyard were painted on the wall.  The place felt inviting and cozy.  The restaurant was almost full when we finished our dinner.

I had a splendid dinner at the French Gourmet, and I rate it 4 out of 5 starfish!  In the upcoming San Diego Restaurant Week (Sep 19-25, 2010), you can try a 3-course meal for $30. Many entrees are not listed in the regular menu.  I hope lots of adults and children can go outside of their culinary comfort zone and try this “Perrific” restaurant!  More information:

www.thefrenchgourmet.com

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At 10, Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning entertainment critic, TV personality, Annie Awards presenter, filmmaker/animator, and radio host, reviewing movies and entertainment with his trademark kids-friendly starfish from a child’s perspective.  Perry became a national sensation on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and National Public Radio (NPR) with Liane Hansen, and a frequent star on the red carpet at film festivals and premiers.  He is the youngest columnist for the San Diego Entertainer Magazine.

Read all of Perry’s reviews and upcoming events on his website http://www.perryspreviews.com

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