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Classic, chic and oh, so French -- WeHo’s Comme Ca is just like that

FINALEMENT, David Myers has flung open the doors of Comme Ca, his traditional French brasserie a short sprint away from his first restaurant, West Hollywood’s Sona. He’s gone for a warmer look here, but in a palette of white, gray and black that rhymes with the original. Instead of the glacial calm of Sona, Comme Ca (French for “like that”) has a madcap energy. At the cheese counter in front, the cheese guru is busy assembling tastes of raw milk Langres, obscure chevre and cave-aged Roquefort for diners who have gotten that far in their meal; while at the raw bar, head bent, a cook frantically opens oysters for a grand plateau des fruits de mer. In between are the raw bar’s no-reservations tables, filled with diners who have lucked into a spot and are celebrating with glasses of sparkling Vouvray or Champagne. Twenty wines are available by the glass from the 120 label list.

It’s not opening night, but it feels like it. Service is still a bit confused, with earnest waiters roaming the dining rooms.

“We bottle the water ourselves,” one server tells us, explaining the$5 per person all-you-want-to-drink water fee. Which means my party amuses themselves by downing as much water as possible to get our money’s worth.

The menu from Myers and chef Michael David (who worked at Cafe Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne in New York) is as classique as can be: salade frisee aux lardons (frisee salad with poached egg and warm bacon vinaigrette), onion soup, moules frites, coq au vin, bouillabaisse. To start, there’s a delicate and light salad of fresh, shredded crab with celeri remoulade, silky leeks vinaigrette, and an eccentric version of tarte flambee from Alsace, heavy on the lardons, but nevertheless delicious. Homemade terrine, though, doesn’t have much flavor, but comes with enough cornichons to supply the entire dining room.

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Crispy skate is just that, served in brown butter with lemon and capers, and a thatch of green beans. Steak frites is pretty terrific for under $30, the juicy beef served with a tarragon butter and a heap of excellent fries.

If you love duck confit, this may be the best in town -- crisp-skinned, salt-laden and absolutely delicious, but how about giving us more of the braised red cabbage underneath?

Cheeses are first rate, and pricey. Desserts, though, look like a bargain these days at $8. I didn’t get that far, probably because I drank so much water. But next time I’m looking forward to brioche pudding and ice cream or profiteroles stuffed with ice cream from Boule Atelier -- Myers’ expanded patisserie which just opened its doors, too, nearby.

Open til midnight on the weekends, Comme Ca should go straight into your Blackberry or iPhone’s address book. And maybe speed dial, because once word gets out that it’s finally open, Comme Ca is going to be a tough reservation.

virbila@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

COMME CA

WHERE: 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood

WHEN: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Full bar. Valet parking, $8

PRICE: Hors d’oeuvres, $8 to $15; oysters, $30 per dozen; seafood platters, $48 and $90; entrees, $20 to $27; specialites du jour, $24 to $30; sides, $7; desserts, $8

INFO: (323) 782-1104


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