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La Bastille: Retreat to Medieval Times

The path that leads to La Bastille, formerly a Thai restaurant called the Siamese Castle (and originally a home its builder dubbed the Enchanted Castle), is a cement wonderland of bridges, turrets and igloo-style bunkers. Miniature golf comes to mind--not dinner. Inside, the castle look continues: red velvet curtains, suits of armor standing sentry in every nook.

You’re greeted by a good-looking maitre d’ dressed in knee-high boots, tight pants and a blousy shirt and vest. At first you think he’s making a fashion statement; then you notice that the waiters are wearing similarly medieval outfits. These are uniforms and you’re in a theme restaurant.

When you sit down at the dark wood table (set with pewter plates and goblets--just like Henry the VIII’s!), the waiter hands you a menu bound in thick leather.

What’s listed are the kind of French dishes you may not have seen since the ‘60s, back when every French restaurant was a theme restaurant of sorts. There’s escargots . Onion soup. Lots of le this and le that, as in, le red snapper, le steak.

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A few modern touches appear. Instead of duck a l’orange , there’s duck with mango. Vegetables are relatively up-to-date. Goat cheese shows up in the salad. Prices for entrees are around $15. And just as nautical-themed restaurants would include a landlubber’s special (“for meat lovers”), there’s a tomato-basil pasta for those who’d rather be eating Italian. 4857 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (213) 962-3455.


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