French cuisine is highly regarded by many as the best in the world. Much of the food we enjoy has a strong influence from French cooking, which is traditionally known to employ lots of butter and creamy sauces to make it so delicious, but French food is a lot more than that. How else would you explain the concept that French women don’t get fat? That’s because the French have learned how to indulge in the pleasures of great cuisine, without overindulging. They also enjoy many natural ingredients, not preservatives, which is also key.
Le Saint Amour in Culver City offers the perfect example of exquisite French cuisine, prepared in a way that does not abuse French cooking techniques, but instead wonderfully uses them to create fabulous dishes that are delicious without being too rich. Located on Culver Blvd., right at the start of the charming downtown Culver district, Le Saint Amour has the relaxed, intimate setting of a quaint French bistro, or a brasserie, to be more precise. The owner, much of the staff and clients are French, as well, so you’ll hear French being spoken, setting the tone for an authentic French restaurant. It was opened in June of 2009, by the former owners of downtown L.A.’s Angelique Cafe. The owner tells me she and her husband wanted to move to the westside. They sought the help of the former Executive Chef of Church and State to create their menu.
For the full French experience, you’ll have to start off with some French wine, of course. You can choose Le Saint Amour, the namesake of the restaurant, or choose from a wide selection of other French wines. If you’re in the mood for white, I really enjoyed the Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc.
To whet the appetite, they serve a delicious sourdough bread, along with some fantastic olives. I was ready to dig in to more. Next, I moved on to the wonderful charcuterie plate, prepared in house by chef and owner, Bruno Herve-Commereuc. I enjoyed an array of three different charcuterie, Assiette de Charcuterie. They really are a treat for the palate. My favorite was the Terrine de Gibier, venison terrine, foie gras, hazelnuts and cognac…a French delight!
Next we moved on to something lighter, salad. These were some of the freshest salads I had ever enjoyed at a restaurant, and one of the tastiest. It’s no surprise one of them was the Salade de Marche, the farmer’s market salad, made with only the freshest produce from the farmer’s market, which is why it constantly changes. The one we enjoyed had goat cheese, oranges and raw artichokes…so deliciously fresh and flavorful! My favorite was the Endives salad though, with Belgian endive, Bleu de Causses (blue cheese), and candied walnuts in an exquisite Champagne vinaigrette. This salad is so good, I would go back just for that.
For my main entree, I tried the Cote de Porc, a fabulous Prairie prime pork chop cooked to perfection in a delicious sauce with absolutely no fat on the pork. It was served with Brussels sprouts so delicious you would never know you’re eating a vegetable…perhaps that’s because they’re also flavored with bacon whose natural fat just helped make the Brussels sprouts buttery smooth and gave them a fantastic smokey flavor.
Next, I had to try the Truite Provencale, sauteed trout, fennel, artichokes, olives and citrus, a wonderfully light and flavorful dish, prepared by chef John Butler, who at his young age of 27 has already trained in such countries as France, Spain and Denmark, blending the techniques of the Old World with those of the new. The Truite Provencale was so delicious, I could have sworn it had butter in it, but John assured me it didn’t, making it a very healthy dish. Instead, it’s prepared with olive oil, oranges, grapefruit and a blend of four different herbs, to give it an exquisite flavor.
Though hard to believe, I did save room for dessert…a fabulous Mousse au Citron, which was the perfect dessert after such a satisfying meal. The lemon mousse with blood orange granite on top and tangerine sorbet was rich yet light, and very refreshing…tres magnifique! Of course there are richer dessert options like Pot de Creme, Profiteroles au Chocolat, Creme Brulee and Fondant au Chocolat, which I would like to try as well, but I absolutely loved the Mousse au Citron.
Le Saint Amour is open every day, weekdays for lunch starting at 11:30 am, and every day for dinner starting at 5:30 pm. It is located at 9725 Culver Blvd. in downtown Culver City. For more information call 310-842-8155 or visit their website at www.lesaintamour.com. Bon appetit!