Belle Vie - the best French Bistro you've never been to. Yet

Sound like anyone we know?

On a perpetually, semi-blighted stretch of Wilshire Blvd in West La – between a 24 hour McDonalds and a KFC, kitty-corner to BOTH a Ross Dress For Less and the kind-of iconic Sasubune – sits the greatest tiny French Bistro you’ve never been to.

Well that’s my stab at the first line of the inevitable J. Gold, or Kayvan Gabbay, review that will “discover” Belle Vie (and please, feel free to pilfer it, either of the Mr G.'s that read us). And, what a lovely addition Belle Vie is.
Taking over the run down DaVita’s space is the kind of charming, little french joint foodies in LA have spent years begging for, only to be “rewarded” with the very spotty at best (IMHO, of course) Petit Trois.
The charm is a wonderful combination the lovely, helpful French staff, whimsical decor, small, tight menu and deft cooking. Nice unknown (to us anyway), bargain organic wines too. It is so French they have a cute ceramic bowl filled with sand, on a pedestal, serving as an outdoor ashtray, and it was filled with butts - on a slow night! Check it out.

We had:
– a simple, delicious, well-dressed mesclun salad

– Angels’ Eggs (cage free organic eggs with a homemade chipotle mayonnaise, burnt fresh corn, pickled onion and radish, chervil). Fantastic.

–Grilled Octopus (An entire fresh tentacle - grilled to perfection, with shaved burnt cauliflower and its puree, hazelnuts, and nduja). This chef actually knows how to cook octopus - something most LA chefs fail miserably at. At almost every other joint in town they char the shit out of a tentacle then dump a chimichurri over it, to kind of cover up their ineptitude with the cephalopod. This prep will blow you away. Tender but not overdone. You can taste the octopus as well as the very light accompaniments (simple shaved cauliflower and it’s puree work sooooo well here but would be lost with a less talented chef).

– Beef Cheeks braised with olives, served over mashed spuds and a flurry of small crispy thin fried potato chips. Another knock-out. Rivals (sort-of, anyway) the boeuf bourguignon I had at Chez Dummonet in Paris last summer.

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You got my attention, as Chez Dumonet has a special place in my heart. Will be checking it out.

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Be warned - It is not that great - it is just as close as I’ve gotten this far away.

Does the ashtray mean lots of French expats to there?

Hi @CiaoBob,

Thanks for the great review. :slight_smile: It’s always nice reading reviews you write. Can’t wait to try it.

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see:

Belle Vie (Brentwood)Previous Thread

It’s great to see a new thread for Vincent and Cedric, such a wonderful neighborhood gem.

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I saw young-ish Angelino patrons and French staff, so – I am guessing – it is mostly the staff/leadership, as well as some patrons, getting their nicotine fixes. I wish I took an photo of the butts. It really made me chuckle - such an anachronism and out-of-place sight. It is really quite notable, in this day and age, in the Santa Monica area, and in the Vape era to see an overflowing ashtray: Viva La France, I say!

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Yes @yogachik - your reviews and @paranoidgarliclover pushed me in the right direction
Thanks for the heads up.

Is the beef cheeks a special, or is it on the regular menu?

They have beef burgundy tacos, which I think are fantastic. I haven’t been to Chez Dummonet, though. :wink:

So glad you liked this place. I think it’s terrific on so many levels. And I hope that the prof writers discover it, too! I want this place to succeed!!! And, if it does flourish, perhaps that will lead to a revival along that strip of Wilshire. The stretch from Federal to Centinela SO desperately needs it (IMHO)

Seems like just my kinda’ place. Petit Trois’ fame (hipness?) probably keeps them from being that type of beloved spot. But I hear the escargot and the omelet are great. I think you had chi SPACCA’s grilled octopus. How does it compare?

Great review.

Now I don’t have to bug the guys at Belle Vie for a roasted chicken special, with Mon Petit Poulet opening soon (Lincoln at Vernon in Venice)

Thanks.
As for comparing the Chi Spac’s oct to Belle Vie’ss - I don’t recall anything particularly great or bad with CS’s whereas I was thrilled with BV’s.

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Is this opening in the former Taco Love space?

@bulavinaka, yes in Taco Love space. Their awning and street signage is up, looks like it will open any day .

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From what I’m seeing on the internet in my 5-sec search, it’s a chain from France?

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An 8.5 star review - good for them, happy!

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Pardon my fawning over Belle Vie, but Vincent and Cedric and their staff continue to really kill it here.

This place has always been packed on our visits. Like an idiot, I had the audacity to call around 6:30 on a friday night and sheepishly ask if anything for four was available. Ever the consummate host, Vincent asked what time I had in mind.

“Anything between 7:45 and 8:30?”
“Certainly - is 8 o’clock fine?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. Maybe a short wait at the bar - have a drink and you will be seated.”
“Deal - we will be there at eight. Thank you very much.”

Some sort of pleasantry in French rolled off of Vincent’s tongue, sealing the reservation.

We showed up at eight, and Vincent warmly greeted us, led us to our booth for four and the rest was on cruise control.

Cold carrot soup with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, angel’s eggs, roast zucchini, beef burgundy tacos, octopus, fries and the duck breast, a bottle of Rhone blend along with chocolate pots de creme and a baba au rhum made for a very enjoyable meal.

Service here is always cordial, friendly and thorough. Add this with a casual atmosphere, warm digs, an engaging and accommodating host, and a kitchen rolling out very enjoyable food and drinks. It’s no surprise Belle Vie seems to always be crowded. And today is their one year anniversary. Expecting many more to come.

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