OFFBEAT: Chicago's Le Bouchon French restaurant celebrating 20 years

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-24T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Chicago's Le Bouchon French restaurant celebrating 20 yearsBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

When I eat at a French restaurant, I always think about funny Lucille Ball and a 1956 episode of "I Love Lucy" about Lucy and Ricky visiting Paris.

When Lucy decides to spend an afternoon dining alone at a French bistro, with only her French-English dictionary for assistance, she runs into trouble understanding the waiter. When she decides to just order "the house special," to save her from the embarrassment of seeming like a tourist, she is served a plate of escargot, much to her surprise and prompting her to alert: "Waiter! There's snails in my food!" Then talking to shells on her plate of French cuisine, she says: "I think one of your American cousins once ate my geranium plant."

French restaurant Le Bouchon at 1958 N. Damen in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, serves "escargot" (steamed snails), rabbit, delicious sauteed frog legs, foie gras (fatted goose liver), duck and selection of other specialties, like chocolate mousse and petite macaroons.

Led by legendary French Chef Jean-Claude Poilevey, this summer, this intimate and inviting restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Chicago, with the chef's son Sous Chef Oliver Poilevey joining the restaurant and lending his contemporary vision to re-conceptualize several of the restaurant's traditional Lyonnaise menu items.

Oliver has worked at La Sardine, Le Bouchon's sister restaurant, The Publican, Landmark, owned by the Boka Group, Publican Quality Meats, Avec, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Club Med and Wilshire in Santa Monica. His extensive experience also includes working in a small bistro in Paris, which spurred his affinity for France and its traditional cuisine.

Jean-Claude Poilevey, originally from the Burgundy region of France, began learning his trade at the age of 14, working in London and then the United States, opening the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wis. Several years later, he moved to Chicago and brought the taste of France with him. A recent inductee to The Culinary Academy of France, Chef Poilevey strives for authenticity in his delicate and romantic French bistro.

Le Bouchon, opened in 1993, offers guests an affordable menu and a vast wine selection. Most of all, it is warm, cozy, friendly and Lucy wouldn't even need to worry about a translation dictionary. FYI: or call (773) 862-6600.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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