Le Burgeon, Foster City

Last night, as we were driving around town in our new car, I was curious enough to see if Le Burgeon had opened.  I hadn’t been able to find anything about them online; my only knowledge of the place was the large banner hanging on the side of the building.  So, spur of the moment, I showed up at an almost empty restaurant in my (not even cleanest) yoga pants and t-shirt and (luckily) they chose to serve me anyways.

Walking in, you’ll notice fresh oysters on the bar which is always a nice surprise if you’re a fan.  They’ve got a great tapas menu and some fun happy hour drinks.  We both tried the Watermelon Margarita which was cool, refreshing, and delightfully strong.  The stick of watermelon marinating in the drink was the best part!

For starters we tried the Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Crab Rangoon, and Duck Confit Summer Rolls off the Tapas menu ($7/ea).  The shrimp were plentiful; crisp, salty, and cooked perfectly to bring out their tender sweetness.  The crab rangoon were nice, a bit heavy on the cream cheese but balanced perfectly if you utilize the garnishes of sweet chili sauce doting the plate.  The savory duck confit rolls were in a tender rice wrapper with fresh veggies; they just burst with salty, umami yumminess.  We also shared a bowl of the Vichyssoise ($7) – a little too light on the salt but a refreshing cool soup, perfect the warm summer weather.

For dinner, we grabbed a bottle of the Picket Fence Sauvignon Blanc ($34) and headed out to a table on the patio overlooking the water.  We sipped our wine and I watched the sunset blaze brilliant shades of orange, red, and purple on the Oracle buildings.  If you’re chilly, they’ll provide you with a soft, cozy blanket as they’re waiting for their patio heaters to come in.  I loved the blanket (as did many other patrons were) and hope that’s a touch they’ll keep.  

Dave and I both ordered the Crispy Pork Belly ($19) which was wonderfully caramelized on the outside and the tender, melt in your mouth fat was to die for.  The taro cake which is shaped like a little pear was the most visually interesting component and also the most difficult to describe.  Taro is often used for chips because it’s quite mild; this root vegetable in this dish has been pureed, turned into a cake, and breaded.  The flavor is subtle allowing it to pick up the slightly, licorice intensity of the sauce.  The fresh veggies were prepared perfectly.  

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Above: Pork Belly (Ignore the blurry, crooked picture – I had to snap fast because Dave wanted to eat!)

Dessert is when the meal began to fall apart and we really saw the truth about why they were doing an unadvertised soft opening.  There are some growing pains as the staff adjusts to a new menu, a new clientele, and the kinks usually get worked out (or perhaps more/better staff comes on).  I ordered the Panna Cotta ($11) and Dave ordered the Tiramisu ($10) with an espresso.  The espresso came out first.  Usually this is no big deal; he tried his best to sip it slowly and enjoy it but still save some to drink with his dessert.  The espresso was good, rich and chocolaty.  My Panna Cotta came out first which I felt was the biggest mistake because Dave’s dessert came out a good 20 minutes later – 25 minutes after his espresso and 30 minutes after we had ordered it.  I believe we were told it was being plated 7 minutes before it showed up.  This meant we were both staring at my dessert for a very long time.  At one point, Dave remarked that he was being held hostage because we couldn’t just leave.  Again, it’s a soft opening and there  will be some kinks but this is an area they’ll need to work on.  There was only one other table besides ours; had it been busy then I would have been a bit more understanding.

Moving on, the Panna Cotta was outstanding.  It was light, airy, tarte, and balanced.  The berries weren’t the freshest but not a deal breaker for me.  I wish I could say the Tiramisu was worth waiting for but I had one taste and didn’t feel like it was.  It was a very large serving (compared to my very petite serving) which was a nice plus if you like to share desserts, however, the espresso which would have paired perfectly was ice cold by the time it arrived.  

Overall, this is a good restaurant with a chef who’s genuinely talented and bringing a fresh perspective to food in Foster City.  The overall menu is a French-Asian surprise and I do look forward to trying more items like the Squash Blossom Tempura and the Cream of Scallop and Coconut Soup.  The chef, Colin Chen is a former instructor at the California Culinary Academy (where I, Sara, attended) and left his job as an executive chef at Oracle to start this bistro.  I hope it thrives as I look forward to seeing what Chef Chen has in store for us and I also hope the menu becomes seasonal so I have even more reason to return often.

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