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Satisfying Saturdays
Bistro Jeanty

By Charles Olken

91 Bistro Jeanty 6510 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599

If you look at most definitions of “bistro”, you will find that they always have the word informal somewhere prominently stated. And it is true that bistros in Paris and the rest of France are certainly less formal than the pricey, formal restaurants that require reservations long in advance and reach deeply into your wallet. But, bistros are not uniform in quality or intent any more than a white table cloth and a maitre d’ in a tuxedo guarantees one of anything except a large check at the end of the night.

There are bistros whose owners treat them as “almost fancy” restaurants and there are bistros that pass for nothing more than neighborhood restaurants. And then there are what I want from a bistro—a restaurant that does not have its nose in the air but does serve the best kinds of comfort foods. The ideal French-styled bistro will have a menu that is straight off the streets of Paris. Bistro Jeanty, although run by a Champenois, is as close to Paris as one can get. Its menu is so classic that just reading it makes my mouth water. And while Yountville, which is the continuing theme from yesterday to today, has some 45 restaurants all told, some of which are as upscale as upscale can get (think French Laundry and Bardessano), Bistro Jeanty is all bistro.

I can suggest a couple of special dishes here that I almost never overlook, but I will admit upfront that I am being unfair to the rest of the menu. You can find it on the website, and you will not see a Calif-Med dish or a fusion dish or a nouvelle cuisine dish in sight. Have a look for yourself. This is old-fashioned down home French comfort food—very good comfort food.

That said, I personally have two items I order more than others and they are better here than I have had in Paris at similarly cast restaurants. The first is the tomato soup en croute. No more delightfully tomatoey/savory potion exists. And the second is Boeuf En Daube, long cooked hunks of beef, often chuck although Mrs. Olken makes hers with rib lifters—those tender chunks of beef the sit above the fat layer on a rib roast of beef. It is a stew of sorts, although not usually endowed with veggies—just beef cooked for hours until it melts in your mouth and is served with a rich brown cooking sauce.

But my personal items are just that—personal. My dining companions have dragged me (willingly, I might add) back to Bistro Jeanty to have the Steak Tartare, the Cassoulet, the Steak Frites. Every one of the fifteen first courses and dozen entrees will remind you of France. Yes, this is the Napa Valley where you can find almost every kind of food if you look for it. It is a place that attracts visitors and serves them every manner of dish. Yet, there is a reason why Bistro Jeanty is the most popular Yountville restaurant in Trip Advisor and why the Guide Michelin continues to recognize its excellence. You will not go wrong here.


Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-0103

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