La Poubelle in Hollywood Still Going Strong 42 Years Later

| September 15, 2012

How many restaurant owners would like to have a restaurant like La Poubelle? My recent visit on a Thursday night saw a neighborhood restaurant that is insanely busy, with waves of diners and partygoers coming through the doors in endless numbers. The place is relatively small, narrow and very noisy, which is what the crowd of 30 to 45 years old seems to crave. A long and very busy bar adds to the atmosphere, and even the hard wooden seats and chairs are not a major inconvenience once you get into the atmosphere of the place.

They have been coming (at least some of them) since 1969 when the place first opened, and like all successful enterprises they have adapted to the times. That means hiring a young chef

who has the passion and energy to do about 200 dinners a night, and double that on weekends. He only has a small brigade, and how they manage to keep the food flowing means a superhuman effort.

I am talking about Johnny Zone who has been at the helm for about 18 months, and his background shows stints working under Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller, and at the time of his hiring had an offer to go to France working at one of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants. He decided to stay in Hollywood, and the throngs who pack this place are the beneficiaries.

The service here is outstanding with a short wait time for the French style bistro food plus a touch of American comfort food and even pasta. Here are some of the standout dishes that should be tried. Start out with the Crispy Brussels Leaves ($10) which seems to be a vegetable rapidly gaining in popularity and is popping up everywhere on menus. This version is flash fried brussel sprout leaves w/white truffle oil, blistered capers and black truffle shavings.

The Bruschetta ($12) is on a grilled baguette with the freshest burratta cheese imaginable, rosso bruno tomato and basil w/a basil oil balsamic reduction make this a winner. Sea food lovers will want to try the Nantucket Bay diver scallops ($14) with palm hearts and a grapefruit confit, meyer lemon and black lava salt.

Alternatively try the Fanny Bay Oysters ($16) w/horseradish, mignonette and lemon creatively served on a bed of crushed ice. This food is so interesting and well prepared that I did not even miss my obligatory order of fresh bread.

Chef’s signature dish is his Coq Au Vin ($25) in a burgundy sauce. The price reflects the 18-hour preparation that goes into this dish, and the way it just falls off the bone. This is such a good dish that is has been featured on the Food Network. Also tried the Gnocchi’s aux Champignons ($16), housemade pasta w/six hour marinara, wild chanterelle mushrooms, han shineji, shallots and more.

Drinks here are plentiful with seven handcrafted cocktails at $12 including the Carrot Margarita w/carrot juice, cointreau and lemon sour or the delightful Tower cocktail w/ organic vodka, lemon sour, cucumber, basil and mint.

www.lapoubellebistro.com