Le Papillon – San Jose, CA

Merry Christmas!! Had a few Christmas dinners this year and the first one I am posting about is “Christmas with the ladies at Le Papillon”. I can’t believe  how long it took me to try this place out and only because KY loves dining here and she is all about the souffle.

The restaurant is located in the weirdest area of San Jose, right next to a strip mall, gas station at a pretty run down looking intersection. I forgot to take a picture of the exterior but it looks like a quaint little bungalow.

The interior is very classic looking and would be appropriate for either a nice romantic meal or even business meals. It was packed and I didn’t want to weird people out by taking random pictures so I took one of the centerpiece right in the centre of the room.

With seven ladies at the table, we did manage to try a nice range of options from the menu. Instead of the Tasting menu, 4 of us opt for the 4 course while the other 3 opted for the the 3 course. One could go for multiple appetisers, salad or desserts but only one entree (which is a smart caveat to have because the entrees are massive and for such a reasonable price, it might not be in the restaurant’s interest if a diner orders three entrees).

I managed to try about half of the menu and to reduce confusion, I will post all the appys, followed by salad, entrees and desserts respectively (and will try to keep it short)

Complimentary Amuse:
Pate on a crostini; pretty good way to start our meal! Savoury and rich.

I missed the description of this – it was like a multi layered savoury cake that was really light and subtle.

Parmesan custard topped with mushrooms. I found the cheesy custard way to strong and rich but really liked the mushrooms.

Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops

w hazelnut polenta and preserved lemon

Two massive scallops. The scallop was amazingly sweet and cooked to a nice temperature (slightly rare in the centre) but the exterior was a tad chewy from the pan frying. tasted good tho! The hazelnut polenta was a little strange… I appreciate the citrusy notes from the lemon.

Slow Poached Lobster ($10 supplement)

w lemongrass, sweet basil and tamarind gel

Delicious!! The lobster was excellent and cooked so well.  I didn’t care much for the sweet tangy tamarind gel that was way too overpowering. I did like the buttery sweet creamy sauce the lobster was drizzled with. The lemongrass and basil was actually quite subtle, letting the lobster shine.

Truffled Hamachi Tartare

w avocado, lemon and pea shoot emulsion

Great Hamachi! Seasoned very well and the avocado and pea shoot emulsion was so creamy and balanced the tartare well. I appreciate that the egg was boiled instead of adding more “slime” w a raw egg. I didn’t really notice the truffle at all – just the fresh lemony Hamachi and creamy greens!

Tolenas Farms Quail

grilled with steel cut oats and madeira reduction

I don’t understand the fascination with paring meats with oats! Maybe I am old fashion, but oats is for breakfast, no? I didn’t care much for the oats in the rich maidera reduction. I did really enjoy the quail, the meat was fall off the bone tender and so rich and delicious especially with the nicely done quail egg on top.

Linguine and Prawn

w cognac truffle cream

Tiniest portion of all the appys, I didn’t try this but A really enjoyed it.


Sugar Snap Pea Soup

w roasted button Shiitake mushroom

I am not a fan of creamy vegetable soups but if they are all served this way, I might just convert! Amazingly creamy, rich but yet not insanely heavy. Weird to say, but it was quite a nice change from all heavier items we tasted before.

Pear Salad

w baby lettuce, toasted pecans, feta cheese and chambord vinaigrette

I didn’t care much for the salad. It was way overdressed, sweet and quite mediocre.

Shaved Hamakua Farms Hearts of Palm Salad ($3 supplement)

w ruby grapefruit, avocado and macadamia nuts

Didn’t try this but isn’t it gorgeous??


Loin of Lamb

w braised shoulder, caramelized sheeps milk yogurt, barberry

The loin was the best part – cooked to a nice medium rare. I think it was sous vide and then light seared because the texture was very delicate and cooked evenly throughout. The braised shoulder ended up tasting like lamb sausage, which I didn’t mind at all.

I quite enjoy the little pocket of risotto that is wrapped in delicate pastry. Definitely a great addition to balance out all the meat.

Noisettes of Red Deer

w roast pear, parsnip tart and huckleberry

The venison was quite disappointing. I don’t know how it was prepared, the meat was not gamey but instead, it was irony and grainy. I didn’t care much for it. I didn’t try the parsnip tart but the berry reduction was sweet and yet quite balanced.

Pan Roasted Beef Tenderloin

w maitake mushrooms, potato gratin, bone marrow ravioli

The tenderloin was pretty good. I enjoyed the woody maitake mushrooms that came with the beef. The meat was cooked as ordered, but was smothered in a reduction that is rich and quite intense. I didn’t try the gratin or ravioli.

To be honest, by this third dish – all the reductions on the meat dishes started becoming quite muddled and tasted the same – salty, rich with a hint of sweetness.

Miso glazed salmon

w corn anglaise and risotto croquettes

I really enjoyed the salmon dish! As simple as it is, the salmon was a generous slab of perfectly cooked salmon. Seasoned so lightly with miso and creamy corn anglaise that was sweet and savoury. The risotto croquettes were not bad – crispy panko crusted croquettes with soft savoury risotto. It was quite dense and heavy but a nice complement to the fish.


Passionfruit Semmifreddo

w white chocolate, palm sugar and coconut

One of my favourite dishes of the night. Great way to end the meal with a citrusy, tangy cold passion fruit semmi freddo. The white chocolate was rich with bits of toasted coconut. The cold sorbet on top of the semmifreddo was great too! I loved every part of this dish.

Souffle Grand Marnier ($3 supplement)

w fresh berries and grand marnier cream

Their signature item that is always raved about. Unlike the usual souffle with a gooey centre, this souffle is poofy like a marshmallow but a tad more airy and delicate. Doesn’t have any flavour to it except for a slight eggy-ness and rich intense Grand Marnier and tangy fresh fruit.



Total Damage: ~$120 – $150 per person (this includes 1.5 bottle of wine for the table, tax and tip)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very Good)

The food was great! Not all excellent but every dish was definitely well worth the price paid – great quality and portions. Service on the other hand was choppy. When I walked in, immediately our coats were taken care of.  Then we sat down and waited as the rest of the group arrived, and by the time the group was complete – it took forever for a server to come to us.

We did get waters and had to flag someone down for a drink menu. Then it took a while for a sommelier to come by, that said he was really patient when we were trying to decide on a bottle of wine. Our server on the other hand didn’t come by till we again flagged someone down to get her. Throughout the evening, we rarely saw her and we did to order souffles in advance. I was not super impressed with the service, but overall experience was good~




Le Papillon

410 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129

(408) 296 3730

Le Papillon on Urbanspoon

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