The Gossiping Gourmet: Get a true French feel at Pescadou

August 11, 2010|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Duck confit, foreground, is served with traditional black mussels, left, and tarte tatin at Pescadou Bistro on Newport Boulevard in Newport Beach.
Duck confit, foreground, is served with traditional… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

Sitting in Pescadou Bistro and gazing out of the window at Newport Boulevard and City Hall doesn't really transport you to France, but as soon as you taste the food, memories of a delicious meal in a charming bistro in some small Gallic village immediately come to mind.

The interior of this pleasant, comfortable room has mustardy stucco walls accented with copper pots, arches dividing the two dining areas, banquettes lining the room and crisp white linens. Much to our delight, it is a room with good acoustics, making for easy conversation, which also evokes France: long dinners, lots of wine and lots of talk.

Chef Jacques de Quillien and his wife, Olga, took over the restaurant from her brother in 2002, and he has created a menu that includes an array of traditional French regional dishes.

The prix-fixe menu is a classic bistro standard. Here, it's called the "blackboard menu," and you can choose a two-course dinner for $24 with soup or salad and the chef's special or fish of the day, or a three-course dinner with the addition of a selection from three desserts or cheese.


Mussels and fries are featured in small or large portions in four different preparations. We chose the small portion in the Provençal style as an appetizer to share. Our large, plump and tender mussels were steeped in white wine, garlic, tomato, herbs and Pernod. The broth was light, well balanced and full of flavor. Bits of chopped tomato added a fresh finish to the delicious sauce. We soaked up all the juices with the warm but, sadly, insipid baguette.

We ordered the duck confit salad expecting the usual shreds of meat on greens, but were delighted with a classic whole confited duck leg and thigh with crackling skin, salty tender flesh and real depth of flavor. This is the way it is served in France, and it brought back waves of nostalgic pleasure. It sat atop some very lightly dressed salad greens garnished with cherry tomatoes, raspberries and large slices of pear. The sweet fruit made the perfect foil for the salty duck.

We were tempted to order the bouillabaisse: a lobster, vegetable, saffron, fennel broth rife with rockfish, monkfish, shrimp, calamari and mussels, but the duck breast also seemed appealing. We decided to leave the choice up to our young and personable waiter, Morgan, who recommended the duck breast.

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