Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pints and Flutes

Or: The French and the English just aren't that into each other...

Bouzy, 1611 S. Catalina, Redondo Beach 310-540-1222 chezmelange.com

After Sunday's jazz club meeting, we (Pat, Bob, Richie and self) ankled across the corner to Bouzy's. I'd read their positive ink (thank you, Richard Foss!) and it sounded perfect for what I wanted -- to have a nibble and raise a flute to Pat and Bob in honor of their up-coming 50th wedding anniversary.

Pat, a fellow grazer, was enthusiastic. The men were less than thrilled ("Where's the meat and potatoes, dammit!?") No worries, mate - management knows these differences and the menu reflects them.

Bouzy is touted as being a sort of a cross between a British pub and a French wine bar/bistro. The room is reminiscent of a pub with wooden walls halfway up, more booths than tables. The menu offers starters you would be offered with drinks in a French home -- olives, pate, salami, cheeses. Then it expands into pub grub -- hamburgers, fish and chips - staple items.

We ordered the chicken pate ($7) for the table. "Chicken Pate" also means "chopped chicken livers" to me and it's a mainstay on Jewish dining room tables. This one would not have been welcome - it's bacon-wrapped which made me grin.

Richie got the Knife and Fork Atomic burger -- a thick beef patty with cheddar cheese, a pair of crossed bacon slices underneath it, tomato, horseradish sauce, fried onions and vegetable slaw ($13) Centered on the plate; nice presentation.

Bob wanted the Shepherd's Balls (quite probably for the name; he relished it) consisting of mashed potatoes, short rib, mushrooms and corn with a beer, bacon, onion gravy. ($8)

Pat wavered between a couple of items and then said, "Southern Fried Chicken Salad, please." ($15)

Since I'd eaten most of the pate, I only ordered a pair of deviled eggs ($2) and the house-marinated salami ($4)

Quibbles: The chicken pate was listed as coming with baguette slices (it did) and pickles (most usually cornichons.) It didn't. Instead there was a tidy pile of marinated red and yellow peppers, a whole carrot and green beans.

Richie said the barbecue sauce (not horseradish as billed) was a little on the sweet side and he didn't care for it all that much. Pat's chicken nuggets were very dry (overcooked nearly to burnt) and the salad was simply lettuce and dressing. Bob ws happy; so was I except that the house-marinated salami arrived as a log and my dinner knife wouldn't cut it. It wriggled and shot around on the olive-oil coated plate. I finally got the waiter's eye and asked for a sharper knife. He eventually returned with a steak knife which really didn't work any better. I finally just used my fingers and bit off chunks. If you order it, ask for it to be sliced in the kitchen. Clearly that's where they keep the sharp knives.

Despite the fact that there were five or six servers and an echoingly empty room, service was slow. The servers (all male) were intent on a football game on the big screen TV over the bar. Previously, the outstanding service was one of the things I enjoyed at Chez Melange.

Still and all, I'll go back. Chez Melange's sophistication (even when it doesn't quite come off) appeals to the snob in me. Dinner for the four of us came to $49. Their food prices are, by and large, reasonable and portions are generous. I would advise you to stick to water. Avoid the "wine list" of beers (all expensive.) The cheapest wine was $6 for 3.5 ounces (and naturally that's what I ordered.)

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