Once upon a time, France spent way too much money on the Seven Years War and the government coffers got tapped out. This meant the ruling powers couldn't pay the country's bills, and the absolute monarchy took a swift nosedive. The resultant shift in the social, political and economic environment threw the country into chaos and caused an even greater divide between the downtrodden and the people who wanted them to eat cake. So to speak. On July 14, 1789, the French people rose up against the tyranny of the ruling class by storming the medieval fortress prison known as the Bastille.
That day — the flashpoint of the French Revolution — is celebrated with La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) in France, and is commemorated on July 14 every year. Bastille Day is celebrated with parties, massive displays of fireworks and feasts. If you're a French expat, or just someone looking for a good party to commemorate the gleeful guillotining of a bunch of entitled French nobility, look no further than the bars and restaurants below, listed in alphabetical order. Each is offering Bastille Day celebrations on Saturday, July 14. And some even have cake.
It's no wonder Suzanne Goin's cozy wine bar is pulling out all the stops for this French fête. After all, the name “A.O.C.” stands for the French appellation d'origine contrôlée — the term for the country's designated wine regions. It will feature a special, $45 Bastille Day prix fixe menu, including a goat cheese tartine with haricots verts à la niçoise, cherry tomatoes and anchovy-brown butter; a choice of either bouillabaisse (fluke, halibut, mussels, clams and rouille) or Niman Ranch steak frites (roasted shallots, arugula salad and sauce béarnaise); and either a cheese plate with trois fromages français or beignets with vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce. 8022 W. Third St., Los Angeles; (323) 653-6359.
7. Bouchon Beverly Hills: Thomas Keller's famous bakery, bar and bistro is offering celebratory specials in each of the Beverly Hills location's separate sections. From Happy Hour all day long at the bar, including $2 oysters and $5 Bastille Day cocktails; to blackboard specials and a free glass of Kir during brunch and dinner in the bistro; and a trois couleurs blue (blueberry), white (Champagne) and red (berry) Bastille Day macaroon in the bakery. Viva la différence. 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 271-9910.
Can you Cancan? You can at Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park, from noon to dusk, on Sunday, July 15. This epic, eight-hour celebration by award-winning Cabaret Versatile is based on the theme French Bohême & Troubadours, and will feature a host of Parisian plaisirs, such as Cancan, feathers and glitz “à la mode de Paris.” Dancer-choreographer Lola Ohlala has gathered an entire entourage of Bastille Day talents, performing in French and English. Singing, dancing, Cirque cu Soleil-type clown acts — even an “Old-School R&B Funk voyage”! Révolution, indeed. Kids under 13 are free. $5 for adults. 4100 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles.
A canelé is a small French pastry with a soft, eggy center and a golden, caramelized exterior. It's also an unpretentious, market-driven Atwater Village neighborhood restaurant offering a festive $39 prix-fixe dinner for Saturday's French fete. The meal includes a sparkling aperitif to begin the three-course meal: Pissaladiere with fresh market herbs (puff pastry with caramelized onions, nicoise olives, anchovies); bourride (mussels, clams and market fish in saffron fennel broth with parsley, aioli and toast); and a house-made namesake pastry with coffee, for dessert. The full dinner menu will be available as well. 3219 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 666-7133.
4. Comme Ça:
Come to David Myers' Comme Ça for La Fête Nationale and enjoy an all-night Happy Hour at the bar, with $7 small plates, like bleu cheese gougeres; PEI mussels (ale, andouille sausage); clams casino and oyster mushrooms with Brilliat Savarin crostini and mache salad. Also on offer: drink specials, such as the La Liberte, Death in the Afternoon, and a French 75 ($9), and a St. Germain Sangaree (for $17.98 — the year France finally gained its independence). 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 782-1104.
3. Little Door:
The Little Door (and its plus petite sibling, Little Next Door) are quaint, romantic and tres French. They're so French, in fact, that the “live entertainment” being hosted for the evening is almost guaranteed to be a cheese-eating, beret-wearing accordion player. But if that isn't enough incentive to entice you to enjoy the liberté, egalité and fraternité offered by the Little Door/s, it also will feature “traditional French specials,” for the evening. 8164 W. Third St., Los Angeles; (323) 951-1210.
Santos Uy's brand-new tastebud-tempting bistro will be offering two seatings for its Bastille Day celebration — 6-6:30 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. The menu will be in the restaurant's usual three-course style, for $30. Guests may choose from French onion soup or frisée salad; moules frites or steak frites; and Camembert cheese or chocolate mousse for dessert. To toast your table or to the New Republic, $12 carafes of natural French Côtes du Rhône wine will be available. 6221 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 871-2026.
1. Pour Vous:
This brand-new bar by the mighty Moix and Livigni tours de force might be pretty, but it still will be offering an intense array of drink specials to celebrate one of the goriest wars in history. Salut! 5574 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 871-8699.
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