Los Angeles has been experiencing a modern French restaurant boom over the past year. This new wave started over a decade ago with celebrity Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Petit Trois to Walter Manzke of République and, more recently Bicyclette, which are still top tables to book. Here are 10 of our favorite newcomers for a romantic night out.
Dinner and a Show
ADKT (Art, Drinks, Kitchen, Tunes) is a sexy new speakeasy-style space held in an upstairs dining room in the Fairfax district. Here you will find not only a Parisian-style boudoir décor and food, but a variety of live music from DJs, French lounge music and bands. On Valentine’s guests can order a 4-course prix fixe menu, which includes chocolate strawberries to take home. For hearty appetites, try the classic Chateaubriand with Black Hawk Farms Wagyu and potato gratin with black truffles, or the rich Maine lobster bisque, and do have the cocktail cart come to your table.
The name says it all but Amour is a new brasserie on Beverly Blvd. that has three distinct dining experiences: an indoor tasting menu at La Salle à Manger, à la carte menus on Le Patio, or Le Jardin is another outdoor option. Chef Dani Chavez-Bello (El Bulli, Bouley at Home) designed the menus with a mix of classic French dining such as traditional boeuf Bourguignon, and lighter, more approachable options such as steak tartare, sole Meuniere or lavender duck breast, along with a few Japanese twists such as Chawanmushi – steamed egg custard with mushrooms, and a sake cocktail.
Lush Garden Setting
Arden is surrounded by flowers, they literally encompass the entire open-air space, including the ceiling. French-owned by wine-maker Jordane Andrieu, who also owns Heritage wine bar in Beverly Hills where John Legend has been known to play the piano in the lounge, has taken over the old Conservatory multi-level patio space on Santa Monica Blvd. with a pan-European menu. Start with something from the reserve wine or champagne list, including by the glass, and a nibble from the raw bar or a salmon pizza. Top entrees include lobster risotto with truffle, champagne, and edible flowers, filet Mignon au poivre with French fries, and a chocolate croissant sundae for dessert.
Hollywood and DTLA
Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood, near a cluster of post-production studios, now features some of the hottest restaurants and shops in town. One of the best dining patios and bar options is Mr. T by Parisian restauranteur Guillaume Guedj. The steak frites are made with an authentic French technique—they drench the meat in butter. The flambéed mac ‘n’ cheese dish originated from the flagship restaurant in Paris’ Marais District, and is torched tableside. The L.A. kitchen is helmed by République alum chef Alisa Vannah, who created the popular croquettes monsieur. They also offer an extensive Bordeaux and Burgundy wine list. And, you could do a Gallic food crawl by heading across the street to GiGi’s for a nightcap or the house Nutella ice-cream sundae after dinner.
The French invasion can also be found at Shirley Brasserie in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (in the old Barish space.) They are hitting all the classic notes with onion soup, bone marrow, pate en croute, and duck leg confit, but also King crab legs and spinach gratin from the wood-fired grill. Do not overlook the great martinis, and you can book a room at this historic hotel (where Marilyn Monroe once lived) if you decide to keep the night going.
Do not let the funky exterior fool you. Behind the rustic façade off a downtown LA arts district alleyway, is the charming Le Champ wine bar and back patio dining area. The chef hails from Curtis Stone’s Maude, so you know the food is solid with nibbles that include gougères with Boursin cheese, escargot, country pate with crusty baguette, and passion fruit crème brulee, but this is all just a vehicle for the wines by the glass or bottle and a long, lingering night under the stars.
Westside and South Bay
Near the Beach
Fete is a bistro by David Slay in Manhattan Beach where the chef- chef-restaurateur is known for his nearby popular steak house and Italian eateries. Designed by Theresa Fatino (SLS and W hotel), with playful party monkey wallpaper and flea market finds. This is the perfect spot for a dinner of duck ala orange, a few dozen oysters – or Petrossian caviar service if you are feeling fancy – and champagne at the bar before taking a stroll down to the beach for the sunset.
For a cozy gem, Coucou in Venice is ideal for a romantic two-top or a seat the bar for an apéritif. The menu was created by a Thomas Keller Bouchon-alum, Chef Jacob Wetherington, so do order the zucchini beignets with creamy tapenade dip, steak frites and harissa roasted cauliflower. Other menu-musts are the addictive fried olives stuffed with merguez sausage served with lemon labneh dip with a Coucou sour riff on a classic pisco cocktail with Lilette rose. On chilly nights, are the classic French onion soup with bubbly oozing cheese hits the spot.
Juliet in Culver City offers all-day French fare with mid-century modern decor designed by A.D. 100 designer Jeremiah Brent (who also has a lifestyle shop next door.) Do not miss the duck confit cigars, whipped cod dip with breakfast radish and the Midnight in Paris vesper. They also offer bar seating and an expansive outdoor patio which is ideal for lunch or brunch with a croque madame or crêpes Suzette with Grand Marnier caramel.