Restaurant Review: The French Gourmet Revisited

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Perry Chen | Perry with waiter Stephane-Trawalter at French GourmetIt’s been a while since I started reviewing restaurants, and I have to say that The French Gourmet, my first review, is still one of my favorite restaurants.  So, when they invited me back to write another review for restaurant week, I was very excited to return for the review.  Not much had changed in the past 3 years, except for an addition called the Prix Fixe menu, a fixed-price menu at $25.95 that provides a 3-course meal and a “Full Dining Experience” which has been popular with diners.  Our waiter was our old friend Stephane, who was extremely nice and hospitable.  He was extremely knowledgeable on every dish, and knew every ingredient and how the dish was especially prepared.  He also had a very refined taste, and recommended some of the most delicious dishes I had tasted.

The first appetizer was of Stephane’s recommendation, and it was the Watermelon Arugula Salad.  I never enjoyed the taste of arugula, however, the arugula in this salad was astoundingly delicious!  The peppery arugula, the sweet melon, the buttery chevre, and the drizzled balsamic vinegar created superb contrasting flavors.  With each bite, the chevre is the dominant flavor at first, but then it switches to the arugula, with the watermelon’s sugary flavor always present with each bite.

The next appetizer was also a recommendation: the Olive-Rosemary Bruschetta.  The dish was composed of 4 sliced of crispy olive-rosemary bread arranged in a stack with aioli sauce and sun-dried tomatoes spread over it, with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil slivers sprinkled on top.  With each crunchy bite, you can taste all the flavors of the sweet tomato, sharp cheese, and the refreshing, stringy basil.  The last appetizer that I tried was the Sautéed Frog Legs.  The 2 frog legs were pretty large, with thin bones and a few bites of meat on them.  They were warm and crispy, and covered in a roasted tomato and garlic sauce.  The sauce was extremely addictive, sweet, and slightly savory. People say that frog tastes just like chicken, but that is not exactly true.  Frog’s texture can be compared to chicken, but the taste seems like a combination of chicken and freshwater fish.  The taste is definitely not the same.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Perry Chen | Perry enjoying Filet Mignon at French GourmetThe next course was the entrees.  My mom and I ordered the Filet Mignon and the Catch of the Day.  There were 2 sauces to go with the medium-rare filet mignon: a Green Peppercorn sauce, which tasted like gravy; and a Bearnaise sauce, which was tart, savory, and rich.  The Green Peppercorn sauce complimented the flavor of the filet, and the Hollandaise enriches the taste.  The filet itself was crispy on the outside, with a tender and rare inside.  The catch of the day was a crispy sea bass with an orange sauce.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Perry Chen | Pastries at The French GourmetFinally, onto the desserts of the dinner.  We ordered the macaroon sampler, a napoleon cake, and the Baked Alaska.  The macaroon sampler was 4 macaroons with the flavors of pistachio, lemon, coffee, caramel.  The macaroons had a crispy, light texture, with a smooth crème as filling.  My favorite flavor was the coffee, because it was dark, earthy, and decadent.  The next dessert was the napoleon cake, which was made of yellow cream/custard that is thick, creamy and not too sweet.  The custard was layered between light airy crisp wafers.  Finally, my favorite dessert was the Baked Alaska, which looked like a giant meringue cookie, but is filled with cold vanilla bean ice cream encased in white orange-flavored sponge cake.

The dishes and recipes on the menu haven’t changed much, except for the prix fix menu.  However, the dishes taste better than I remember them when I was 10.  I suppose that now I appreciate the essence of French cuisine more.  French cooking is about taste, presentation, and also the aroma, or the smell.  That’s why French chefs put herbs in their food: to enhance the smell of the dish and get your mouth watering before you even realize that you are hungry.  The only flaw about the whole restaurant was that there were many flies that buzzed around in the dining area.  I actually killed 5 with my bare hands and had to keep going to the restroom to wash them.  My suggestion would be to maybe hang up some flypaper or put bug traps near the entrances or the windows.  But, overall, the dining and the food was a 4.5 starfish experience!

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Perry Chen | 4.5 Starfish TM

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Perry Chen | Entertainment Critic

Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning film/ entertainment critic & animator, artist, speaker, and entertainment personality. He started writing movie reviews at 8 using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, under the guidance of his mom Dr. Zhu Shen and his 3rd grade teacher Ms. Harris. Perry’s debut on the CBS Evening News in 2009 made him a national sensation. He has been featured extensively on local, national, and international media, including NPR, Fox, CNN, NBC, The Guardian, The China Press, and many more. He has interviewed prominent filmmakers at film festivals, red carpet premieres, and press junkets. He won a prestigious “Excellence in Journalism Award” at the San Diego Press Club in 2010 as its youngest member. Perry currently writes movie reviews for the Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews website with a combined readership of over 2 million worldwide.  Perry and his family live in the community of Carmel Valley San Diego.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Zhu Shen | Community Contributor

Dr. Zhu Shen’s love for the movies started when she was a young girl, growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution where watching movies was the only entertainment available to the masses. Her journey to become a filmmaker took a convoluted path. She studied medicine at Peking Union Medical College before coming to the US and earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Colorado, and then an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School. She is a producer of the upcoming documentary feature “Average Joe on the Raw,” about journey into raw food and health. Dr. Shen is also an award-winning biotech executive, author, speaker, China business expert featured on national and trade media including CBS, Fox, Business Week, Pharmaceutical Executive, and more. She has worked at IBM, Bayer, Chiron, Immusol, and is the CEO of BioForesight, consulting on cross-Pacific life science business. *Photos of Perry Chen and Zhu Shen by Brian Bostrom.


Carmel Valley San Diego Community | RIDE Cyclery Encinitas

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