Many Americans have preconceived notions of French cuisine, often conjuring images of butter-soaked escargot, creamy bisque and foie gras served in lavish restaurants with elegant white tablecloths and prices to match. But Le Bouillon may just change that.
Paul Kulik, owner of Le Bouillon, is bringing his concept of regional, French comfort food to the heart of Omaha’s Old Market in the former location of the iconic French Café at 1017 Howard Street. “People’s understanding of European food is that of really high-quality ingredients on their plates, and this is predominately associated with Italian restaurants. What had been lost in that conversation is French food,” says Paul. But the Midwest’s availability of fresh beef, potatoes and cheese lends itself perfectly to re-creating the farm-to-table foods found in southern France.
Living in southern France as a teenager, and traveling extensively through Europe, Paul “learned to eat and how to dine—not just consume food.” When it comes to his restaurant, he applies the belief that great food comes from “letting the farmers do the work, having the chef stay out of the way and letting the food speak for itself.”
Taking full advantage of many local Nebraska and Iowa producers, Le Bouillon’s menu has both small- and large-plate selections. In the small plates, you’ll find traditional French dishes such as escargot, smoked rabbit and sweetbread. The large-plate selections include quail, pork and a grilled rib eye large enough for two. While the seafood is flown in fresh, Paul has strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients, which means Le Bouillon’s menu fluctuates seasonally.
Le Bouillon prides itself on being a wine-focused restaurant because, as Paul states, “what you’re drinking is 50 percent of your dining experience.” With that in mind, diners can enjoy regional French wine not sold or distributed elsewhere in Nebraska.
For a casual French dining experience, visit Le Bouillon Tuesday–Sunday in Omaha’s Old Market, or anytime at BouillonOmaha.com.
—By Emily Brocker