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Enjoy fine French food at Chez Chouchou

March 21, 2013

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Guadalajara’s trendy Colonia Americana is home to an excellent but inexpensive new French restaurant.

A collaborative venture between three Mexicans and a Frenchman with contrasting but complementary backgrounds, Chez Chouchou serves a range of gourmet meals, fine French wines and creative and original cocktails.

“Our main goal is to bring a different concept of French cuisine. When you think of French cuisine you automatically think ‘Oh man, it’s expensive,’ but you can eat here without spending a lot,” says Jonathan Patiño, one of the restaurant’s four founders.

A Michoacan native, Patiño and his Tapatia girlfriend Rocio Rivas Ramos had been living in London and traveling around Europe when the idea of opening a restaurant came to them. It was only when they met up with Rocio’s brother Raul Rivas Ramos and Frenchman Antoine Pluchet in Paris last year when the concept of Chez Chouchou was born.

After just a few months of planning, the restaurant opened in mid-December, with the versatile foursome having each drawn upon their skills and experience to good effect.

Patiño had worked in restaurants for ten years in California, Vancouver, Playa del Carmen and Michoacan, before studying molecular mixology at London’s Shaker bar school, while Rocio Rivas studied gastronomy and also had experience managing restaurants. The couple drew inspiration for Chez Chouchou from restaurants they visited while traveling through European and Mediterranean destinations such as Grece and Israel.

Raul Rivas, who had studied business and marketing, was tasked with promoting the new place, while Pluchet, who had studied economics, would run the business side of the enterprise, as well as providing authentic French touches and designing the interior. Antoine opted for a vintage boutique style, reinforcing the inexpensive vibe with home-made adornments and unpretentious paper placemats.

“We wanted a place where you can chill and have a good time,” Patiño says. “If you’re not that hungry you can have a glass of a good wine and if you are hungry then you can enjoy what we have to offer.”

There is plenty to enjoy. The starters include a wonderful French onion soup, goats’ cheese empanadas, mushroom crepes, asparagus with serrano ham and parmesan, and pear salad with spinach and caramelized nuts.

It gets even better, with the main courses including salmon, duck a l’orange, ratatouille with rice, a gourmet hamburger, cheese and aubergine ravioli, chicken and mushroom casserole, and a selection of French cheeses with bread, serrano ham and cooked potatoes.

The duck a l’orange has proven the most popular dish, Patiño says. “We make the sauce a little bit different,” he explains. “This is French-Mexican cuisine, not your common French cuisine. We add chile morita to give it that little touch of extra flavor.”

For dessert, Patiño recommends the “perfect” profiteroles, although this writter can attest to the quality of the creme brulee flambeed with tequila. Sweet crepes are also available, plus the fine coffee, a three-way blend from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz.

Patiño is proud of the French wine list, with bottles ranging from 200 to 435 pesos. The house Merlot, which costs 55 pesos for a glass or 200 pesos for a bottle, is excellent. As Patiño says, “usually house wines are pretty dull but this one has lots of flavor and aroma.”

With his background in mixology, Patiño has devised a range of intriguing cocktails, including the Spring Paris, a mix of white and red vermouth infused with rosemary and grapefruit and mandarin soda, and the Mango Chouchou, a blend of sparkling wine, mango extract, cucumber, cranberry and ginger.

“I’m very creative in what I do,” Patiño says, explaining that he aims to bring “incredible mixology” to Guadalajara, a city largely bereft of quality cocktail bars.

Those who want a little taster of Chez Chouchou can try the menu of the day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., which includes a starter, main course and coffee for 75 pesos, or a starter, main and dessert for 85 pesos. The restaurant makes little profit from this promotion but the food sells itself and the quality of the taster menu is sure to bring customers back to explore what else is on offer.

To keep things fresh, the staff are always modifying the menu and introducing new dishes. The latest additions come in the Sunday brunch menu, which features French toast, croissants, scrambled eggs with salmon, eggs Benedict with mushroom sauce, quiche lorraine, spinach quiche and croque monsieurs.

Chez Chouchou is located at Pedro Moreno 1290 in Guadalajara’s Colonia Americana. Open hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 2 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Telephone: (33)3825-0218. Credit cards are accepted except for American Express.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 3, 2013 08:14

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

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