Belle Vie Food + Wine, A Delicious French Haven on LA's Westside
Bonjour. Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?) That’s about all I remember from high school French class. I do remember however, absolutely loving the class and my adorable French teacher. I found the language romantic, the culture alluring, and the food...well, downright incredible. From the cheeses to the breads to the cassoulets loaded with herbs, even at 17 years old, my palate could appreciate the cuisine. And so, after a year of learning the basics of the French language, I promised myself that Paris would be the first European city I’d ever visit.
I almost fulfilled that promise. Because London came first by a mere 5 days...only because the guy I seriously dated freshman year of college was a Brit. He was also a jerk (Pretty certain he knows nothing about Dash of Les as we’ve been estranged for a solid 10 years). A jerk because his temper royally sucked and because he totally ruined Paris for me - you know, being a jerk and all.
But my husband, who is definitely not a jerk, has agreed to take me back there next Spring!
And as coincidence would have it, within a few weeks after we decided France would be our next big trip, I stumbled upon the cutest little French restaurant - Belle Vie in Los Angeles’ Westside.
I knew I’d love Belle Vie Food and Wine once I read a few of their “odes” too. “Our philosophy tends towards working with organic and local producers and using the ancestral French techniques of cooking’ is stated loud and proud on their website along with “Quality produce is the base of quality food.” I humbly agree, Belle Vie.
Upon walking into the quaint and cozy cafe you feel worlds away from LA. With Parisian paintings delightfully hung across every inch of the walls, a beautiful bar that begs to be enjoyed, and a water closet that may just be one of the best decorated restaurant bathrooms I’ve ever seen, I was in French heaven before even having a bite of their amazing food.
We began with the Endives salad, which frankly, from the menu description alone, doesn’t sound “special.” Until you see it...and then stuff each and every perfectly adorned endive leaf into your mouth. Wow, was this salad is special. The most delectable endive leaves come loaded with impeccably ripe and sweet persimmon, creamy dollops of cheese, crushed hazelnut, and fresh Rosemary. And it’s all complete with a gentle coat of a perfectly complementary orange blossom honey dressing. I do believe this is one of those instances when the photo speaks 1,000 words.
We also indulged in the NICE Mussels Mariniere. “A French Riviera twist,” these mussels were soaking in an aromatic and lovely broth with white wine, spring onion, garlic, black olive, cherry tomato, thyme, rosemary, and basil. Needless to say, we were soaking every last piece of bread in that irresistible broth.
We finished it all off with one of the more gluttonous choices on the menu. But it had to be done. The Croque Madame was so divine it almost made me shed a tear. And when I ran into the chef briefly before leaving, I made sure he knew it too. Your standard layers to a Croque Madame, this version just excelled in every single way. The Jambon de Paris (ahem, ham from Paris) made a statement even with the creamy and decadent Béchamel, the melty and complex Compte AOP Gruyere, and the lovingly tangy Dijon. Let’s not forget about the flawlessly executed sunny-side-up egg or crusty sourdough it all came sitting atop, either. My goodness, it was a French masterpiece indeed.
I can’t believe I’ve only just learned of Belle Vie considering we no longer live on LA’s westside. But let me tell you, no matter where you reside in this giant city, this little piece of Paris is most definitely worth the trip. Crazy Los Angeles traffic and all.