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Mille Fleurs

Coq Au Vin
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

If you’re not a Rancho Santa Fe resident, the drive to Mille Fleurs can be daunting. Long winding roads through eucalyptus groves surrounding the homes of bazilionaires like Bill Gates, who slum it here a couple weekends a year, can be treacherous for the unindoctrinated. They can also be a very peaceful precursor to what is almost sure to be a perfect evening.

Mille Fleurs itself is reminiscent of an old French cottage which was surprising when you consider that the place is kind of in a high-end strip mall Nevertheless, it felt as if you were transported to a charming country house in Provance. A welcoming, spacious and peaceful courtyard greets you leading to the interior adorned with wood framed windows and iron hardware. Flickering candles rest on the tables casting a soft glow. Earth tones and large framed pictures and murals are pleasing to the eye. The dining area is sectioned off into separate rooms, again as if it were a home. Very intimate.

While the comfortable surroundings may have you thinking you are in a pleasant little restaurant, that is where the comparison ends and the class and sophistication of Mille Fluers begins. The primarily French staff were impeccable in every facet of their interaction. Classically attired, they ebbed and flowed throughout the room like a perfectly tuned performance. Water, bread, top off your wine….all were seamlessly taken care of with effortless and joyous efficiency. It is obvious there is a profound dedication to the art of service at Mille Fleurs just from watching them attend to their guests. Many of our dining room companions were clearly frequent patrons, greeted with handshakes, embraces and first names.

A delightfully creamy amuse bouche of smoked salmon served on a delicate housemade potato chip began the evening and tantalized the taste buds. Delights continued in the form of butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and cinnamon croutons ($9) and smoked Holland eel with new potatoes, beets, horseradish and quail egg ($18). Both dishes had such distinct flavors and textures. The thick, rich soup was warm and comforting and the crunchy croutons created a sweet accent to the otherwise savory meal. The eel was smokey loveliness. The fresh organic beets were crisp, popping with flavor that coincided perfectly with the flavorful eel and egg. Truly a unique, inspiring dish. One thing to note is that virtually all of Mille Fleurs produce comes from nearby Chino Farms, and the definition of flavors, texture and color are absolutely unbelievable. Combine that with the skills, confidence and whimsy of 20 year plus Mille Fleurs alumni Chef de Cuisine Martin Woesle and you’ve truly got a tour de force.

Bold entrees spirited the night away in the guise of the traditional French offering of braised chicken “coq au vin”, with basmati rice and red wine sauce ($24), and broken arrow ranch antelope with green herb spatzle, king trumpet mushrooms, Swedish lingon berries and cacao-red wine sauce ($36). So you can’t go to a French restaurant and not try their take on “coq au vin” and Mille Fleurs withstood the challenge. The rich and aromatic broth would have made the haughtiest French chef proud and the wonderfully cooked chicken just melted off the bone. No knives needed here. The antelope was a ravishing treasure. The clearly fresh meat had such an amazing texture and moistness to it – no gamey flavor here. Our server shared that the beasts are slain from a helicopter with a single shot (paging Sarah Palin) dressed, packed and shipped, all within 20 minutes. Quite a feat and completely worth the effort. The accompanying sauce was another triumph. The spatzle, while perfectly prepared, was a bit bland or perhaps our palette was simply overwhelmed by the other seasonings and flavors.

Delicious Antelope
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

Although common sense tried to prevail, the tempting fresh baked apple strudel with raisins, cinnamon, almonds, caramel sauce and ice cream beckoned ($11). The sauce made with a Canadian ice wine, tasted similar to a Chambord. Sweetness enveloped the dish and the numerous textures and ingredients kept the taste buds happy indeed. Decadently delightful.

Baked Apple Strudel
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

For those looking for a lighter evening try Mille Fleurs “Tapas & Tunes” every last Tuesday of the month (weather permitting) in the courtyard patio area. The evening serves up affordably priced tapas, cocktail specials and has a DJ spinning tunes. A great place to mingle, hang out with friends and laugh the evening away. It was also very nice to see a young, unpretentious and animated crowd enjoying this San Diego treasure. Hats off to the ever hospitable and indefatigable host Julien Hug for creating something to keep Mille Fleurs front and center with a new demographic. Bertrand and Denise’s son can be seen nightly kissing hands, laughing heartily and pouring his soul into the place which is exactly the Hug family gift. How can you not love them?

Mille Fleurs has won ridiculously countless awards for its dishes, its ambiance and it’s very easy to see why. The evening was a flawless orchestration of service, taste and comfort. Spoil yourself and plan a special night at Mille Fleurs. Sometimes the classics are exactly just that – classic. They also offer nightly 3-course prix fixe menus for $40. Enjoy!

The good – the food, the service, where do we start? Always and forever one of the best things San Diego has to offer.

The bad – Bit pricey on the wines and corkage fee. No bottle under $50, but that’s Mille Fleurs. Easy on the libations if you’re not a RSF homie. That drive out can be brutal.

Details »
  • City: Rancho Santa Fe
  • Phone: 858-756-3085
  • Name: Mille Fleurs
  • Address: 6009 Paseo Delicias