What you put in your bouche (mouth) matters. What can be found in the new, post-lockdown restaurant called Bouche? High-quality food, a hard-surface minimalist decor and a sky-high decibel level.
Located not far from Achi, the restaurant reviewed here last week, Bouche is a boxy space with stone walls, a concrete bar, big windows and a wooden ceiling and tables. With nothing to absorb sound and with loudish music playing, we had to continually raise our voices and repeat ourselves to be heard as the restaurant filled up.
In spite of all the shouting at each other, we had a good time and ate very well, sharing all the dishes. Here’s a rundown:
The beetroot hummus with feta and preserved lemon was a perfect marriage of slightly sweet, salty and sour, spiced up with a bit of chili and fresh dill.
The earthy but somehow light boudin noir (blood sausage) was perfectly complemented by raspberries and redcurrants.
When the perfectly cooked nduja (spicy Calabrian sausage) croquettes were cut open, a strange-looking red sauce poured out. It didn’t taste that interesting at first, but the nduja packed a punch.
The cockles, which I had been especially looking forward to, were something of a disappointment, doused as they were with a strong Asian sauce that overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the shellfish.
I especially enjoyed the barbecued beef brochettes flavored with lemongrass and served with a cold noodle salad with herbs and nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce).
One of my dinner companions, however, found that the beef dish was not original enough and preferred the mandilli, (sheet pasta, something like lasagna, whose name poetically means “silk handkerchief”) in an unusual sauce of crab bisque with ricotta cheese and citrus.
The lamb kebab with tzatziki, harissa, lamb jus and lavash (flatbread) was well-appreciated, especially the “crispy skin shards,” according to the friend who ordered it.
Also very popular was the fish dish, lieu jaune (pollock), a real melting pot of a dish with grilled fennel, salmoriglio (a Sicilian olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano sauce), grapefruit and beurre blanc with tandoori.
The two side dishes on offer were a delicious potato millefeuille, crispy outside and tender inside, and a lovely salad with wonderful fried chickpeas and date condiment.
The barely sweet rhubarb dessert did not go over as well. My rhubarb-loving friends were disappointed that it was raw, and its pairing with chopped celery and crushed ice raised more than a few eyebrows. Still, it kind of grew on us, when all the flavors blended with the praline cream.
The same happened with the brownie, which at first seemed rather too hard and crunchy. It was accompanied, however, by cherries cooked in shiso, raw cream with smoked chili, and wine syrup – all of those deep, dark, spicy flavors and different textures ended up melding beautifully.
Sadly, I will probably not go back to Bouche even though I enjoyed the food a great deal. My eardrums just can’t take it.Favorite