Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet me at Meet, or maybe not.

A friend of mine asked me if I’d gone to Meet French Bistro in Culver City, and I told him no I hadn’t. He then asked me if I would please go and write up a review, so that he could know ahead of time if it was a good place to take his wife for dinner… well, given the urgency of the matter I went. Twice!

Meet is for the most part a good typical Franco-Californian French Bistro. The food ranges from mediocre to very good, the prices are not too outrageous, and the staff are quite pleasant. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, the expected items on the menu plus a variety of Moules Frites, including marinieres, a la crème d’ail, au roquefort, a la moutarde ancienne, provençales, marinara, curry and lastly ocean.  I know of no other place with such a variety in Los Angeles. And according to my lady, they are quite good.

If you are not into moules frite, the usual candidates of Americanized French food are on the menu.

The only thing I can strongly recommend, aside for the moules, is to go to Meet between 5pm and 6pm for their prix-fix dinners. They are generous, including apero or digestive, appetizer, entrée and dessert for $29.  The last time I went I had the prix-fix with steak frite and received a large, very well prepared hanger steak.  Note, for $10 more per person they give you a bottle of wine; A cheap bottle of wine. Skip this and get the carafe of the house Côte du Rhone instead for $5 more.

Look, it is not that Meet French Bistro is bad; it is just that it doesn’t call out to me. I really wish it did. So many of the pieces are there, but is without risk, without boldness, without authenticity, without adventure or surprise. You order something on the menu which should be fantastic -- like the saffron mussel soup, and it is bland, spiced not to offend. It should have been bold, deep in saffron, garlic, Mediterranean chilies, pureed tomatoes, maybe chunks of Spanish choriso such that you sweat a bit but can't stop yourself from eating or dipping your bread for every last drop. Or something like that. Instead, rather blah. But alas for most it is acceptable, but not extraordinary. Good, but not memorably great. Even the desserts were fair, with decent portions, but not great. I want desserts that are  “Oh my god, you have to taste this!” good.

My lady likes Meet more than I do, and we will probably go again because of that, and we’ll go between 5 pm and 6 pm because the prix-fix meal is a good deal. And maybe things will change…

So, you go to Meet because you love the idea of a wide variety of moules frites, or you go because you are in Culver City between 5pm and 6pm and need a good place for dinner, without any high expectations.

If your expectations are not too high, there is a very good chance Meet will beat them.

Bon appetit,

Le Capitaine

Our desserts that came with the prix-fix dinners... a good cheese plate, and acceptable profiteroles that looked better than they tasted.

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