Meet in Paris – Culver City, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving and the weather was quite dreary. Raindrops fell from the sky, and the streets of LA were empty and eerie. We had intended to go out for a hearty Southern brunch, but the long lines and a fateful sign put us in the mood for lunch. “Moules frites, foie gras, escargots” was emblazoned over a doorway; we took our names off the waitlist in favor of something much more gourmet. Meet in Paris is a bistro with decor comforting yet chic. The service was friendly and the mussel options plentiful – c’est magnifique!

Moules Marinieres at Meet in Paris

Moules Marinieres at Meet in Paris

Perhaps all of my blog entries should rhyme. The intro was a bit of an homage to last week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother which was narrated entirely in rhyming couplets. But I digress. I had been wanting to try Meet in Paris for a very long time, but we did not realize where it was located until we strolled from our car to S&W Country Diner. A quick Yelp search reminded me that this bistro was the one with literally one dozen preparations of moules frites, a Belgian (or French, depending on who you ask) dish of steamed mussels served with fries. Moules frites is one of my all-time favorite pub dishes as it pairs excellently with beer, but having it for brunch was a special treat. But first…

Quaint and chic decor

Quaint and chic decor

The exposed brick and chalkboard menu made the bistro feel trendy yet casual. I loved the checked tablecloths and white flour sack towels for napkins. The ambiance really came together for me when La Vie En Rose played in the background. Martin and I love the French romantic-comedy Jeux d’enfants (Love Me If You Dare), so when that song played, an otherwise ordinary brunch transformed into a very cute date.

illy cappuccino

illy cappuccino

Having spotted that they serve illy coffee here, I could not resist ordering a cappuccino. The coffee was the perfect temperature underneath a thick cloud of foam… the whole experience was made even better by a special little treat — a small chocolate macaron resting delicately on the saucer. It was dense and almost brownie-like in flavor and texture, a great foil to the coffee’s intensity.

French onion soup

French onion soup

Rainy weather almost always means soup, so we decided to share a bowl of the French onion soup, served appropriately in the lion head’s bowl. The broth was rich and not overly salted, and the layer of bread just under the cheese soaked in the soup nicely.

So fun to eat!

So fun to eat!

And of course, the generous layer of melted gruyere made appealingly long strings as we dug in.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

Martin was in the mood for breakfast so he selected his (and apparently one of the servers’) personal favorite — the croque madame. As our server took his order, she nodded with a knowing smile. The croque madame is actually never mentioned on the menu; there is only the croque monsieur with an option to add a sunny side up egg for a nominal fee. Referring to it by its proper name almost felt like passing a secret test of sorts. It arrived with a mountain of shoestring frites and a gravy boat of bechamel. The bread was buttery and tasted even better enveloped by the oozy egg yolk and garlicky (?) bechamel. Super filling!

Moules Marinieres

Moules Marinieres

I was overwhelmed by the many options of moules frites with bases ranging from Thai lemongrass curry to Spanish chorizo broth to lobster bisque. Other varieties included smoked salmon (the Alaska), tequila (the Baja), and crab (the namesake Meet in Paris). But I am a firm believer in the beauty of simplicity, and so I opted for the mariniere — garlic, shallots, chablis, and herbed croutons. I’ve had PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels in the past, but the ones here were HUGE.

PEI mussel in its shell

PEI mussel in its shell

Seriously monstrous. And they were incredibly tender and juicy. The broth that rendered from the seafood (and butter) was absolutely decadent.

PEI mussel compared to the spoon

PEI mussel compared to the spoon

I had to take a picture or two just to demonstrate how big and meaty these mussels were. This order is the small and it was the Goldilocks portion for my lunch (just right).

Can't have moules frites without the frites!

Can’t have moules frites without the frites!

And the frites… super skinny shoestring fries, these were crispy and salted and reminiscent of Father’s Office frites. Though our server provided a basket of French baguette to sop up the mussel broth, I really enjoyed dipping the fries. By the way, they do give you the option to order a salad instead, but I say – you just can’t have moules frites without the frites.

I noticed many other delicious French offerings on their menu, including steak au poivre (pepper steak) and escargots à l’ail (sauteed in parsley butter), that I’d love to try soon. Like love at first sight, I think we were destined to have our brunch date here and you can bet I’ll be adding this to our list of go-to dinner outings. The perfect spot to rendezvous for your next date night!

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Check out Meet in Paris: meetrestaurantla.com

9727 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

See their Yelp reviews here!

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La Petite Creperie – Mar Vista, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

One of our favorite Sunday morning routines is to head over to the Mar Vista Farmer’s Market (some weekends we’ll even walk!) and enjoy a leisurely brunch at a local neighborhood hot spot – La Petite Crêperie. A quaint hole-in-the-wall, La Petite Crêperie is decked out in old French country-style wooden decor with cute dish towels for napkins and adorable mini Le Creuset type dutch ovens that have been purposed as sugar bowls. The all-French staff are quick to bid “Bonjour!” and show us to a cozy corner table.

La Petite Creperie - Champignons, Fromage Galette

La Petite Creperie – Champignons & Fromage Galette

First things first, Martin and I both love having iced coffee at brunch. They do not have chilled coffee here but if you ask nicely, they will be happy to fix up a strong Americano and serve that over ice along with milk in a cute little ceramic creamer.

Iced Americano

Iced Americano

If winter is coming, La Petite Crêperie offers an excellent organic French pressed coffee, served in huge Bodum (?) glass coffee presses. The smallest, supposedly a 2-cup, was plenty for us to share. One advantage of going with hot coffee is the ease of which the sugar cubes melt (we had to stir for quite a bit to get them to dissolve into the iced coffee!). Plus it’s just fun to push down on the plunger.

French pressed coffee

French pressed coffee

Since we are dining at a place that is literally named “the little crêpe restaurant,” we, of course, had to order a crêpe or two. I love savory crêpes, listed on the menu under Les Galettes, and selected the champignons and fromage –  a medley of portabello and oyster mushrooms sauteed in butter along with garlic and shallots and served in a buckwheat crêpe layered with melted gruyère. SO GOOD. The gruyere paired perfectly with the earthy mushrooms which, though rich and buttery, were not greasy at all. The savory crêpes are served with a mixed greens salad tossed in a bright and tangy sherry vinaigrette and garnished with cute fresh cherry tomatoes (possibly sourced from the farmer’s market going on just outside!).

Crêpe Champignons & Fromage

Crêpe Champignons & Fromage

Martin is less a fan of savory crêpes (he’s more of a Nutella guy, but more on that later) but his brunch selection is another French favorite – the croque madame. Essentially a ham and cheese sandwich, the croque monsieur (jambon de Paris, gruyère, and béchamel served open-faced on toasted bread) becomes a croque madame with the addition of a fried sunny-side-up egg. It’s hearty and comforting and just the right breakfast to keep you going until dinnertime.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

If we go the savory route, we are usually too full for dessert. With this in mind, we will sometimes decide to come here for a sweet breakfast of Nutella crêpes and coffee. Nutella and banane (sliced bananas) for Martin, Nutella and fraises (strawberries) pour moi. Each of the sweet crêpes are served with an artsy swoosh of Nutella, a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Thin, just a bit chewy, crispy on the edges without burning, and with generous helpings of fruit and nutella, this dessert-for-breakfast really hits the spot.

Nutella Crepe

Nutella Crepe

For the iconic Westside experience (at least, it is in my opinion), stop by La Petite Crêperie for its charming atmosphere, delicious crêpes, and reinvigorating hot or iced coffee. Plan to stay for a while (things run at a leisurely pace here) and wander out to the farmer’s market afterward for some fresh local produce and treats. It’s a great way to start the day before going back to Sunday errands (or continuing the weekend goodness by heading down to the beach just 2 miles away!). C’est la belle vie~!

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Check out La Petite Crêperie: lpcmarvista.com

3809 Grand View Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

See their Yelp reviews here!

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Speaking of coffee, if you want a chance to score your very own single-serving, pod-based coffee maker just released by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, hop on over to see our friend at The Actor’s Diet for a giveaway!