The Perfect Bistro Dinner at Chefs Manzkes | Bicyclette Bistro, West Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA, November 2021
• GAYOT’s Rating: 15/20
• Cuisine: French / Bistro
• Open: Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
If the “bicyclette” is the star on the outside of the bistro, the cuisine definitely gets the winning prize inside. The husband-and-wife team of chef Walter and pastry chef Margarita Manzke has struck again here on Pico Boulevard in the former space of Picca and Sotto. Bicyclette Bistro is a nod to the couple’s love for French cuisine and Paris — and I like that. With chef de cuisine Joe Garcia, they have collaborated a no-fault, no faux-pas très French menu that attracts a ritzy and elegant clientele of connoisseurs.
During the evening you will see the stack of baguettes slowly diminishing. The bread can be ordered with simply butter from Normandy, or a very interesting saucisson sec and Surryano ham, as well as sardines, duck liver mousse or smoked salmon rillettes.
Don’t be fooled by the “bacon” taste in the soft egg in shell, it is not bacon but smoked sturgeon. The egg is topped with another part of the sturgeon: Kaluga caviar. You are in a French bistro, so the Burgundy escargots en croûte are a must-have, as well as the steak tartare. Oui, there is an onion soup gratinée, but the stellar dish is the “caramelized onion tarte Tatin.” It took three weeks for chef Garcia to come up with the final recipe that includes goat cheese. It is one of those dishes that will make you want to come back to the bistro just for it — watch the exclusive video below with chef Garcia about it.
Then came a beautifully presented dish: Maine scallops à la Grenobloise, another of Garcia’s creations. As it was “too” sophisticated for bistro cuisine, chef Garcia admitted it was a test-run for what is to come upstairs at Bicyclette Restaurant. Considering what I tasted — the opposition of the softness of the scallops with the toasted bread, the heat of most of the ingredients with the cold radishes, the finesse of the lemon brown butter — I am very much looking forward to the restaurant side of Bicyclette (to open soon).
After the roasted duck magret, served with braised cabbage, baby turnips and Shinko pears, and what preceded, I had to order some fromage.
Margarita now makes her entrée with her tarts, ice cream, sorbets and rotating sweet delights that are listed on the black board by the bar. The evening I went, there was an apple tart topped with dates and vanilla ice cream on which Comté cheese is shaved tableside. I am not sure about that one, as the delicate taste of the 24-month aged Comté, which I tried from the cheese board, gets lost in sugarland.
The bar holds spirits and liqueurs in order to create cocktails with a retro flair. The wine list, overseen by sommelier Cristina Candido, encompasses France, Italy, California, Germany and Austria. The focus is on France, where you can find a bottle of Château Margaux 2005 priced at $3,090. The oldest bottle in the book is a 1962 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve, Rutherford. Many labels have verticals, and come at a price.