Bistro Jolie: Dining Review

Photographed by Victoria Wall Harris
Bistro Jolie (Inset: steak frites)
An uneven Provencal-Riviera bistro in underserved Bel Air.

A strip mall French spot in Bel Air is a rare addition to a rarefied land, The Hollywood Reporter's review finds.

The wealthiest diners in L.A. are some of the most parochial, their cloistered canyon addresses often such a schlep from exceptional restaurants in the flats that they're content to settle for comparative mediocrity-by-proximity. (Pace, anyone?)

Enter three-month-old Bistro Jolie in Bel Air, a neighborhood that rarely greets a new anything. It's situated in the same tiny hilltop shopping complex as Vibrato, the jazz club where Sumner Redstone's two girlfriends once threw him a 92nd birthday party, as well as a sushi spot haunted by Warren Beatty. The hardware at Glen Centre's valet-only parking lot makes the lineup at Palisades Village look modest.

Jolie's owner, Thomas Plejer, 36, is behind the adjacent gourmet market. He's brought in an operations team that's had its hands in Roy Choi's new Las Vegas project and WME's lobby commissary. The dining room — a mix of polished brass, clean lines and chambray napkins meant to conjure the Côte d'Azur for a seasoned 0.01-percent clientele still mourning the loss last year of Cannes-adjacent bouillabaisse legend Tetou — was done by Studio Unltd, which also designed Bavel and Otium.

Chef Cody Dickey (familiar with the demo, having previously been in charge at the Malibu Beach Inn's billionaire-catering Carbon Beach Club) melds Provence and the Riviera in a low-stakes fashion. His standouts are straightforward, like a poised, elegant asparagus almondine, and a whole lemon-and-herb-stuffed loup de mer executed with finesse. He punches up the steak frites (a prime 10-ounce flat iron) with an herb butter featuring the French chili pepper Espelette. Distinctive piquillo peppers, from the Basque region, are stuffed with albacore and green onion. And the Niçoise salad is kitted out with purple potatoes and watermelon radishes.

Plenty of well-meaning attempts to shake things up, however, whiff. There's a Dungeness crab cocktail studded with kumquats that annihilate it; a bowl of mussels mariniere is undercut by a soggy piece of "toast" smeared with way too much harissa; and a beef tartare advertised with pride as hand-cut is, in practice, unpalatably clunky. The "crispy" Brussels sprouts are gummy. The overpriced "bread board" should be rethought. (Don't nickel-and-dime customers by charging for what could be mistaken for par-baked grocery store selections.)

Luckily, the service is on point — warm, attuned and unfussy. And the slim, on-brand cocktail offerings (fizzes and spritzes) are effortless. One might wish the wine list weren't also so narrow. After all, Jolie's sweetest spot is its aspiration to induce another guiltless rosé. The kind where life's nettling troubles back at the C-suite office or the mansion can wait a while longer.

2922 Beverly Glen Circle; 310-773-9484, full bar
Recommended: asparagus almondine ($12), loup de mer ($42)
Choice table: The corner booth by the window

This review is based on multiple visits. Reservations are made under another name. Meals are covered by THR.

This story first appeared in the March 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.