Dining With Grace: Soleil Westwood

By Grace Hiney

In case you are not familiar with the history of Soleil Westwood, the restaurant sits on the corner of Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Avenue (below Wilshire) and serves terrific French/Quebec-style food.

Owner and Executive Chef Luc Alarie, a native of Quebec, started the restaurant about 15 years ago and instantly received plaudits about the food. If you are going to the Geffen Theater or to a local movie, Soleil is great way to enhance your evening.

My friend Barbara and I enjoyed seeing the setting again with the lit-up-sky modeled ceiling. The atmosphere is calm with a low musical background and thus conversation is enabled throughout your meal (which is a total pleasure).

The dinner menu offers an assortment of petit plates in the $8 to $11 price range (a baked crab cake served on a bed of lettuce with tartar sauce is $9, for example). Then there are soups and several salads to which you may add a grilled chicken breast, tiger shrimp or grilled wild salmon if you wish to make your salad a main course.

Salads, too, are moderately priced such as the Salade du Quebec, consisting of Manchego cheese, dates, red apple and candied walnuts served over a bed of mixed greens and topped with a cider vinaigrette ($12).

We, however, began our dinner with a shared persimmon salad special of the evening, which introduced me to the delicate and delicious red-orange persimmon with its tangy-sweet flavor. Wafer-thin slices of prosciutto, gingered almonds and bits of gorgonzola cheese on assorted lettuce leaves made this an enticing start.

My friend ordered the chicken marsala which is a full chicken breast served with mushrooms in a marvelous marsala wine reduction. This is accompanied by a choice of pasta or potatoes. Happily, pasta was Barbara’s selection as the marsala wine sauce gave the chicken and pasta excellent flavor ($18).

Just a few of the entrees offered at moderate prices include the Pumpkin Ravioli ($16), Beef Bourguignon ($19), and New York Steak with Soleil’s Café de Paris herbs sauce ($22).

Still, I was tempted by the special of the day. A breaded-parmesan fillet of sole with lemon butter on top, joined by delicious scalloped potatoes and fresh veggies (broccoli, carrots and zucchini) was flavorful and more than enough to enjoy some the next day ($24.85).

As for dessert, who could resist the chocolate crepe? This lovely crepe, filled with vanilla ice cream topped with Belgian chocolate and served with bananas and fresh strawberries and delicious whipped cream, was outstandingly tasty and perfect to share.

What is most interesting here is that Soleil serves not only dinner (except on Mondays when they are closed), but also offers brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday until 3 p.m. with sandwiches, entrees and specials.

In 2012, Luc opened an intimate bar next door, P’tit Soleil, serving an array of small plates, exotic wines and imported Canadian beers on tap, along with handcrafted cocktails.

This is a perfect place to go if you are headed to the theater or a movie. Or, if you prefer small plates, my friend has enjoyed them with a glass of wine and recommends it highly.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s website

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