The proliferation of French restaurants continues to escalate in Culver City, and thankfully, there seem to be enough foodies around to make every new arrival a success. Such is the case with Meet, a laid back bistro on Culver Boulevard giving nearby places some healthy competition.
For those of you who remember Bistro de L'Ermitage, Meet now occupies this terrain, and business is strong. The anatomy of the restaurant hasn't changed much. It's still small and intimate, but the décor is less flashy—with the addition of red-checkered tablecloths, and vintage black and white photos that take you through the neighborhoods of Paris.
I liked this place. The food is good, it's fairly reasonable, but it's the warmth and conviviality of owner Sebastian Cornic and his wife Cecile that truly sets this place apart from other restaurants in the area.
Sebastian's family made a name for themselves in France by offering prix-fixe dinners back in the '70s for only 99 francs (about 15 Euros today). The concept took off, and their restaurant did well. Affordable dining is a real smart move in today's economy, and their prix-fixe offerings are the way to go.
Nightly, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and all night on Tuesdays, $29.95 per person buys you a three-course meal, along with an aperitif. Choose from a selection of many appetizers, main courses and desserts. For only $41.95 a person, the meal includes a decent bottle of wine. Most restaurants charge upwards of $10 a glass for wine. You do the math—this is a great value.
We selected the 2008 Chateau Briot Bordeaux, which agreed with my palate. Sometimes red wines do a number on me—and I feel like I'm sipping rust—but I liked the smooth velvet constitution of this affordable vintage.
My gal pal started with the Moules Marinieres, Black Mussels with Parsley, White Wine, Shallots and Cream Butternut Squash Bisque. Although the mussels were small, they were quite flavorful, and the bisque was marvelous. I decided upon the Tomato Tarte Tatin, with Frisee Lettuce, Tomato Confit on Puff Pastry with Pears and Bleu Cheese. This was tastier than it looked, and disappeared quickly.
Second courses included the Atlantic Salmon, beautifully presented in a Lemon and Wine Sauce with Haricots Vert, but our favorite was their Pork Tenderloin, a true knockout with Pomegranate and Pine Nut Gastric, and Sauteed Spinach.
Dessert was still to come—with an oh-so-fine Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, and my duo of Classic Profiteroles topped with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce, I was in heaven.
Meet is not a stuffy place. It's got a nice neighborhood feel, and you won't find waiters with actor-attitudes, or a staff that makes you feel stupid for any shortcomings in your knowledge of wine, food or manners. And in this economy, anything a restaurant does to make you feel welcome is a smart move.