From the avalanche of attention Thomas Keller has been getting for Bouchon, you'd almost think the arrival of the new Beverly Hills restaurant was the second coming. Actually, it is, in a way. For those without a long memory, Keller was executive chef at Checkers Hotel in downtown L.A. in the early '90s, well before the French Laundry, Per Se and his seven Michelin stars. Now Keller is back in Los Angeles in a big way, this time as a phenomenally successful chef trailing all the high expectations and jealousies that exalted status entails.
Take a deep breath. The Beverly Hills Bouchon is, in the end, just another Bouchon. (Keller has two others, the original locals hangout in Yountville, Calif., and a second more palatial spot in Las Vegas.) But, because of Keller's commitment to excellence and unflagging attention to detail, it is, hands down, the best French bistro in Los Angeles. Under chef Rory Herrmann (formerly of Per Se), the kitchen turns out classic bistro dishes tweaked to Keller's modern sensibility. Not only that, the 2-month-old bistro has an authentic sense of place and joie d'esprit. It's the real thing in every sense.
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