If you focus your critical faculties too hard on Le Bouchon, the nearly 30-year-old Bucktown spot, you may see its flaws. The roast duck for two can be tough, and the specials too busy. The glassware is clunky, and some chairs wobble. So don’t focus. Instead, appreciate the blur of its rose-colored (or more accurately, butter-yellow) vision of a French bistro, and open your heart to a kind of love few restaurants know how to offer.
Here’s how: Take a moment to appreciate the warm, pointy sections of pain d’epi and the ramekins of soft butter the servers fetch from a rustic sideboard. Have a proper French 75 cocktail. Look up to the pressed tin ceiling. Squeeze into a corner table with your paramour and share dishes of moules marinière and garlicky escargot. Always get the frites. Sit at the bar by yourself and make a meal of onion soup gratinée. Translate the old French signs (“No Whiners,” “Spitting Forbidden”) on your iPhone. When in doubt about what to drink, get a glass of Côtes du Rhône. Walk over in the rain, and take a moment to collect yourself in the foyer. Go often enough that the lovely humans on staff recognize you.
Is Le Bouchon the city’s most perfect neighborhood boîte? Yes, of course it is. 1958 N. Damen Ave., Bucktown