Picture a romantic retreat in the French countryside where days conclude with glowing fireplaces and elegant meals, and you will have the essence of Mille Fleurs. The restaurant, which is located on a small estate off a windy road in Rancho Santa Fe, offers a warm and charming atmosphere that plays host to stunning haute cuisine. Chef Martin Wosele’s menu, which changes daily, delicately melds European culinary traditions with local California ingredients. The result is sensational and exquisite fine dining which, as evidenced by numerous awards and national recognition, makes Mille Fleurs one of the most significant dining establishments in San Diego.Read More ...
With the likes of Bertrand Hug and Chef Martin Woesle running the show, it’s not hard to understand how the champion French restaurant Mille Fleurs would earn a position on Food and Wine magazine’s Top 25 Restaurants in America. The slew of accolades from various local and national sources that they’ve amassed in their 25 years of business has done nothing to disintegrate the quality of service or excellence of the food. Quite the contrary, Mille Fleurs has earned a reputation with locals and visitors alike as a restaurant that consistently serves food of the utmost freshness and quality. Most recently, they’ve expanded their clientele by serving an elegant three-course prix-fixe menu for the affordable price of $40. Despite having built a strong foundation on consistency and familiarity, Mille Fleur’s creators have no shortage of culinary ingenuity and appear to be meeting current economic challenges head-on.
Discreetly tucked behind a stucco archway in sequestered Rancho Santa Fe, Mille Fleurs is a far-flung culinary sanctuary from the hustle of San Diego and its crowded beaches and freeways. Passing through a picturesque courtyard partially shaded by arching trees and the setting sun, we glide by a bubbling tile-lined fountain which momentarily sends me into a blissful reverie. Once through Mille Fleurs’ large mahogany doors, we’re warmly greeted by Host Julien Hug. He sweeps us past vivid floral arrangements and a roaring fire in the hearth to an elegant table accented with azure stemware and a bright sunflower. With all the charm of a dream country home in Provence, my eyes light upon French floral tile motifs, warm saffron walls, rich burgundy carpeting, and mahogany sweeping across slanting wooden ceiling beams and window frames. A delightful host, we watch Julien flit from table to table, the occasional lilting French trailing in his wake.
Before our first course can commence, a playful amuse bouche of rabbit and aspic is served announcing the official start of what will surely be an exquisite meal. A geometric presentation incorporates a transparent, small square plate with a dainty bite-size triangle of the rabbit and aspic, and playful circular button-like pieces of cucumber amid flaming red and golden yellow baby tomatoes. Inhaling deeply, the earthy notes of a basil dressing, chives, and vegetables greet me, adding a provincial element to the sophisticated course. The lean rabbit meat, securely contained within the jelly-like aspic, serves as a relatively blank palette for the other ingredients, punctuating the mild bite from the daikon radish. The airy freshness of this hors d’oeuvre is a glimpse into Chef Woesle’s approach to cooking and a culinary ode to the dog days of summer.
Our taste buds properly roused, my dining companion and I switch gears and order the Tomato Soup with Gin and the Lobster Bisque. An elegant white tureen cradles a smooth vermillion-colored tomato soup touting a heady aroma of tomatoes and sweet pine from partially submerged fresh marjoram. Coarsely grated chunks of cheese mingle on the soup’s surface with baby dollops of cream, creating swirling patterns as my spoon vivaciously dips into the steaming bowl. The flavors that greet me render me momentarily speechless; the overflowing essence of smoothly blended farm-fresh tomatoes accented with the piney infusion of gin complement the delicate sweetness from the indigenously Mediterranean marjoram.
The Lobster Bisque, a signature item at numerous fine dining establishments, has the pressure of having to stand apart in a sea of richly creamy shellfish soups. It does this effortlessly with an intoxicating tickle to the nostrils and a stunning visual presentation of chives dancing in and around cream delicately shaped into a flower. Nestled in the center of the bowl and barely peeking out are a few pieces of lobster; they are the first thing I seek out as I plunge my spoon down. My surprise is evident when I realize that burrowed in the burnt sienna broth’s shadowy depths are white corn and steamed zucchini as well. Despite dominant flavors from rich ingredients such as the cognac, cream, and lobster, these midsummer vegetables retain their individual identity, surely due to the freshness of their source.
The Smoked Holland Eel follows closely behind. As soon as it is set in front of me, I’m struck with the resemblance of the presentation to a vibrant kaleidoscope. Varying colors and patterns from an assortment of thinly sliced radishes, dill cucumbers, and potatoes are symmetrically arranged on a large round sky blue plate. Blushing pieces of plump smoked eel surround a Lilliputian quail egg in the center while a light powdering of horseradish completes the dish. The most striking aroma is surely from the cucumbers, dill, and horseradish, ingredients which continue to uphold Chef Woesle’s command of farm-fresh produce. The eel is an ambrosial combination of oily fish and oak smoke, filling my mouth with the luxuriant texture of silk. Horseradish, the final, lingering note gives a hot, spicy finish to a truly unrivaled experience.
Next, my companion and I share the Salad of Maine Lobster, one of the few unchanging items on the menu due to its celebrity status among local habitués. Dill, thriving under the summer’s hot heat, makes its third appearance of the evening, this time mixed in with garden greens, sliced avocado, thinly cut watermelon triangles and large meaty pieces of flushed Maine lobster. The watermelon is a pleasant surprise alongside the lobster and avocado, adding a refreshing summer bite to an appetizer already ripe with light and fresh ingredients. The lemon dressing adds a tart undertone, fusing the varying flavors into a culinary harmony.
At last prepared to embark on the following course, we order two entrees to suit our palates. The first is the Strauss Farm Veal “Wiener Schnitzel”. Two thin veal cutlets that have been breaded and fried arrive carrying a quail egg perched atop a nest of energetic parsley leaves. A thin lemon butter is elegantly drizzled over the veal while caper berries sliced into small green and pink pinwheels add a mischievous touch to the overall presentation. Two mounds of vegetables round out the dish in the form of spaghetti-thin pieces of multi colored peppers and fleshy yellow and red diced heirloom tomatoes. The veal’s crispy breaded golden-brown exterior veils a tender interior with a delicate taste that takes on the many flavors of its supporting ingredients, especially the tang from the lemon sauce and the sharp piquantness of the caper berries.
Our second entrée is duck not one but three ways; the breast, confit, and foie gras. Cloaked with an amber orange-ginger sauce, the confit sits at the head of the plate while pink slabs of the breast gently fold over one another like dominoes. The foie gras sits nestled between the two, an airy looking mass that has my mouth watering in anticipation. Sprigs of rosemary and grated orange peel are sprinkled over the duck and some halved baby potatoes, carrots, and spinach like colorful confetti. The rosemary emits the aromas of Provence which seems all too appropriate in a restaurant bedecked in soft yellows and azure blue.
The confit, made by salt curing the duck’s leg and then poaching it in its own fat, is full-flavored, tender, and succulent, especially with the orange ginger sauce. The sauce seems to know its place among such elaborately prepared duck and does not try to steal the stage but rather lays it with a soft citrus bouquet and a soupcon of ginger. The only bursts of flavor occur from the occasional welcome piece of orange rind or rosemary. The breast is equally succulent. Expertly grilled, it is lightly pink on the inside while the outside is minimally seasoned with salt and pepper, in turn retaining and emphasizing the duck’s true flavors.
Neither the duck confit nor the breast can compare to the foie gras in term of richness however. Sliced into small pieces, the flavors that greet me are nothing short of heavenly. Full-bodied, buttery, and delectable, the experience feels near sinful, yet ever so satisfying.
Dessert has much to live up to after the last entrée, yet does so with whimsical grace. The White Peaches Au Gratin, a special on the prix fixe menu, is a daring combination of cappuccino ice cream, bulbous ripe raspberries in a rich coulis of their own making, and fresh slices of peach, all lightly torched to create a “gratin” effect. A fluted piece of almond tuile brings the presentation together with a classically French touch. The cappuccino ice cream juxtaposes bitter with sweet, and has a very fine graininess, an indication, I’m informed, that actual coffee beans were used in its production.
Always a chocolate lover, I myself am especially partial to the chocolate cake. A crescent-inspired presentation boasts dried mixed berries in a semi circle to one side of the towering slice of cake, while a half-moon of dark chocolate and white chocolate on the other side sits waiting to be dipped into. The four-layer cake is cloaked in a dark chocolate ganache with some crisp coils of candied orange peel. The moist cake pr
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I decided to take my wife - who is french - to this restaurant. I wanted to give my wife the best possible experience and I was not disappointed. Actually, we were both so impressed with the ambience, the service, and above all the food that we will remember this dinner for the rest of our lives. We arrived a bit early to check the place out and we were graciously greeted and invited to partake of a drink at the bar. We felt so welcome and the atmosphere in the bar was warm and just right for a couple looking to enjoy themselves. It certainly enjanced the dinning experience! The wine selection is excelent and the menu for dinner was fantastic. The appetizers were outsatnding! I ordered a beef Carpaccio and it melted in my mouth. We both ordered the lamb chops. There were perfectly cooked. And the desserts were expertly make and presented. I can't speak enough as to how good the service was. I urge you to treat yourself and your loved one to this fantastic place!
The restaurant was chic but relaxed. The service was perfect. The food was outstanding. I had the whitefish. It was perfectly cooked and it was so hot that I had to wait for a minute to eat it. The brown butter sauce was the best that I have ever had. My husband had the turkey weiner schnitzel. I had a taste of it and it was excellent also. I would recommend this place for any special occasion.
Very good food.
Great atmosphere, busy and lively but not loud, outstanding service from professionally trained staff who are very gracious without becoming either fawning or too friendly, wonderful food which tastes fresh and innovative, and Badoit available as a sparkling water, what else could I ask for?
Lovely location, very good meal, very pleasant service, nice wine list, cozy atmosphere. Food nicely presented. I totally enjoyed my meal, though my husband wasn't so crazy about the beef he ordered...In any case, we will definately go back, esp. since the menu is apparently ever-changing. It's been a while since we've had a truly enjoyable dining experience, as we are a bit tired of "trendy" places that turn out to be mediocre; this is more of a classic with a lot of attention to detail.
For anyone who is looking for a romantic quiet restaurant that you and your special someone would like, this would be the place to go, but I would like to add that the food is a bit pricey if that's okay with you. I'm all about the food, so I would rate the food as being an 8 or an 9, 10 being the highest. The food selection was limited, but you have three entrees, salad or soup first, main dish second, and your desert to finish. Just to add a little, if you would like flowers arranged for you, there is a flower shop next door you can call to and have the arranged for you in the restaurant.
Waiter was attentive and helpful. Food was excellent--- had the Dover sole and it was great. My wife had ravioli and it was outstanding; the sauce was delicious. Portions were more than adequate. Really enjoyed the desserts--some of the best we have ever had. I would hightly recommend this restaurant. The atmosphere is quiet and romantic with a class to it that is perfect for special occasions.
This restaurant was beautiful and the food was amazing. Its in a really quiet area and the ambience made it very cozy and was a perfect place to take my wife for a romantic evening. definitely recommending this restaurant.
Romantic, great service and great food (from local sources). Best restaurant I have ever been to.
Here is an out of the way restaurant (meaning you don't need to go to La Jolla or Downtown) to get a first class dining experience. The food was great, we had a wine challenge that they fixed right away, the service was very freindly and responsive. We had a great anniversary.
Went to Mille Fleurs for our anniversary and took a guest from Germany with us. We had the 7 course meal and it was very good. The cheese platter was good for american standards, but it didn't impress our guest from Europe. The wine was exellent and the waiters very friendly and helpful. We'll be back for sure!
Mille Fleurs is a great place to eat. It has multiple rooms to fit your style. They change the menu daily so that there will always be something different.
An excellent venue for my fiance's twenty fifth birthday dinner. We were greeted by an enthusiastic staff with a degree of professionalism seldom seen even in fine dining. The service was only trumped by our meals, both created with obvious authenticity and care. The wine menu far surpassed my basic knowledge of fermented grapes, but the explanations following each choice reeled me back to a position from where I could make a deliberate selection. I have no doubt, however, that any of the waitstaff would have been fully competent to guide my decision had I been honest enough to ask for a compass.