The Gossiping Gourmet: Eclectic dishes in friendly setting

How to describe Le V Cuisine? The closest we can get is: oodles of French, a helping of Asian, a dose of American, a touch of Italian and a smidgen of Mexican, all coexisting in tasty harmony. So, in addition to a Vietnamese banana flower salad with baby clams and fresh basil, there's a rib-eye quesadilla and seafood spaghettini with garlic marinara sauce. But it's French cuisine that dominates the menu, with classics such as escargots de Bourgogne and duck a l'orange.

The attractive contemporary dining room features Chinese red damask drapery on the windows, black linens on the tables and a dramatic red-light fixture in the center of the room shedding a rosy glow.

Appetizers tend to be Asian in origin with a variety of crispy spring rolls, sushi and other seafood. Very popular, however, are the lamb chops with blue cheese and caramelized onions.

We are big fans of frog legs, and because they appear on menus infrequently these days, we order them whenever we can — and yes, they do taste like chicken (very delicate white meat chicken). These legs were from some mighty big frogs, and although they were nicely battered and perfectly fried, they were a bit tough and bland. All the goodness came from the crispy batter.

On the other hand, Le V's signature fresh mango salad with grilled jumbo shrimp, a Vietnamese dish, was absolutely delicious. A generous profusion of half-ripe mango slivers, sweet and tart, provided crunch and fruitiness to the salad, which also had some cabbage and carrots. All were tossed in a nicely balanced, sweet lime dressing. Four well-seasoned but slightly overcooked jumbo shrimp surrounded the salad.

Meat eaters will find lots to choose from on the entrée menu. There are five steaks ranging from yakitori rib-eye to Chateaubriand wrapped in bacon, topped with crabmeat in black pepper sauce. There are also two preparations of lamb chops, one lemongrass-crusted and one grilled with rosemary.

Among the selections from the sea is broiled catfish served with the traditional Vietnamese accompaniments, rice paper, lettuce, mint, cucumber, plantain and shrimp sauce. On the American side would be broiled salmon filet in lemon caper sauce.

Chilean sea bass is hard to come by lately, and because it was near extinction, there has been a ban on this fish. We hope that what we ate was MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified, i.e. legally caught, because half of what is available is not.

That said, the Le V special broiled Chilean sea bass is sinfully good. For those of you who are fans of this fish, you will remember its buttery flesh and exquisite flavor. Cooked here to perfection, moist and juicy, it rested atop a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, flecked with peppery watercress. Completing the plate was a mélange of lovely vegetables: sweet yellow beets, crunchy French beans, asparagus and sautéed water spinach with garlic. (Water spinach is a Southeast Asian vegetable, also known as water morning glory or swamp cabbage, mild tasting like spinach but with a hardier texture.)

A simple rotisserie game hen is lightly seasoned with tarragon and accompanied by French beans and steamed rice for a very reasonable $12. If you order it, tell them you like it moist, because it is cooked earlier in the day and reheated. Warming it slowly took a little longer, but it was worth the wait.

Crêpes were once the de rigeur dessert, and we miss them. So we were tempted by the promise of a berry crêpe with espresso and orange sauce. The sauce was very interesting and nuanced with the unusual combination of coffee and orange flavors. It was quite irresistible, but sadly, the crêpe itself was thick and doughy and not at all crispy. The pancake was topped with a nice mixture of fresh berries and what seemed like semi-frozen whipped cream.

So, if you are in the mood for Asian-Italian-French-Mexican-

American food in an attractive, friendly, relaxed environment, give Le V Cusine a try.

Le V Cuisine

Where: 17431 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley

When: 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday

4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Wine Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with reduced-price beer, wine, appetizers


Appetizers $3 to $14

Entrées $11 to $20

Desserts $5 to $7


Bottles $30 to $78

By the glass $8 to $10

Corkage fee $15

Info: (714) 593-8511 or

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