The Dining Scene in Hayes Valley is heating up as Restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow has just opened Chez Maman West. The small cozy bistro’s décor features whimsical French Art Posters, hanging spot lighting, a large mirror, Copper Topped Counter with seating for 8 and table seating. We love the neighborhood and knew we had to check it out when we heard that Chef Russell Cab has the unique challenge of preparing both French bistrot cuisine from their Chez Papa menu and his favorite Mexican cuisine from their Papito menu. It was very active on the Thursday night we dined and it was quite fun just being there! We ordered sparkling water and proceeded to check out the menu.
We started out with the Escargot de Bourgogne made with parsley, butter, shallots and wine. This was perfect. We also really loved the Beef Tartare made with Dijon mustard, capers, shallots, quail egg and served with toast points. It was exquisitely seasoned and just the right portion for two. We were about to order the mussels when our server reminded us that there were excellent Mexican appetizers as well. We ordered and loved the Ceviche Papito made with lime marinated shrimp, leche de Tigre, mango and pico de gallo. This might be our very favorite Ceviche! Next, we had Les Moules Mariner, Mussels steamed with garlic, white wine, lemon juice and parsley which were delicious. Be sure to have the crispy French fries with the mussels. We noticed that the Tacos looked good and ordered the Pollo Empanizado Taco made with fried chicken, chipotle remoulade and salsa roja and the Shrimp Taco made with tempura shrimp, chipotle remoulade and purple cabbage slaw. The La Palma organic corn tortillas and sour cream on top made the tacos delicious. It was lots of fun to have the flexibility of both French and Mexican cuisine. We learned that the dual menu is also a favorite with locals and tourists alike.
Crepes are served all day and there are some interesting choices on the menu. This evening we felt like having the classic spinach and cheese which we asked for and found that they were very accommodating. It was delicious and was served with a good sized side salad with a lovely vinaigrette dressing. At this point, we could only try one entrée and asked our knowledgeable server. He gave us some reasons for quite a few then we decided on the Pork Chop with Brussels sprouts in an apple cider mustard sauce. It was just the right thickness and so juicy….just fabulous!! The Wine List is always changing with many reasonably priced bottles as well as 20 wines by the glass including French and California selections. We enjoyed the fruity and lively 2010 Beaucanon Napa Sauvignon Blanc and a full bodied French Cotes du Rhone.
Small bistros are fun, as we always tend to chat with neighbors and ask them about what they are having. We spoke with a sweet mother and daughter from Sonora at the next table who were in The City to attend the Symphony. They were impressed with their choices of the authentic French Onion Soup and a Chicken Panini which they said had excellent roasted peppers. The dessert that we highly recommend is the Cinnamon Pain Perdu with marinated fresh berries, apple syrup and Chantilly. We enjoyed Illy Espressos which was the proper finish to our excellent dining experience.
Chez Maman West offers something for everyone with excellent French Bistrot Cuisine, Mexican Cuisine, Crepes, Burgers and tempting brunch items that are served until 4:00 PM on weekends. We enjoyed the friendly lively atmosphere and reasonable prices. We look forward to returning soon! The restaurant only seats 25 so they don’t take reservations. They also have sidewalk seating weather permitting.
By Joe & Carol Davis
Chez Maman West
401 Gough Street (at Hayes St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102