Inn to Inn in Wine Country :: Northern California, Bistro Des Copains

We left the spa, feeling contentedly like spaghetti noodles cooked way past al dente, and headed back to Occidental for dinner. If you haven’t been to Occidental for a while, Negri’s and The Union restaurants are still battling it out for who serves the biggest family platters of old-style Italian food.

But if you’d rather quality over quantity, then you’ll be happy to know that there’s a new kid on the block, of this two-block town, Bistro Des Copains (Buddies.) This welcome addition to Occidental’s dining scene is a cozy French bistro where a few bites of their farm-fresh cooking will have you transported to the French countryside. We were lucky to be there for the Wednesday night special, oysters for $1.00 each, and so we began with a dozen Kumamotos. They could not have been sweeter or fresher, served with a dab of horseradish and vinaigrette. We ordered a wine flight to pair with them from the reasonably priced wine list which offers lovely selections of both French and local wines. Our dinner opened with a lovely warm chevre served on field greens, a generous bowl of Pei Mussels with a hint of Pernod wafting from it, a crab tart (not the best rendition I’ve tasted) but we devoured the featherlike tangle of fried leeks that accompanied it. The Pissaladier (goat cheese, olive and caramelized onion pizza) needed the zip of anchovies (they were offered but Joan declined) and the crust could have been a little thinner, but the pan seared Artic Char, with a sweetly-tart cranberry orange sauce was sheer perfection! Although I was stuffed, my chocoholic friend promised she’d study the map all night if I let her order the Choc/hazelnut torte, which was simultaneously delightfully rich yet light and airy. The perfect ending to a perfect day capped only by our being seated at a window table right when the lunar eclipse was going on, for the perfect view. Two toques up!

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