We joke about the foreigners who roam Hollywood. We joke about their banana hammocks, their driving habits, their funny tan lines. Long overdue, though, is a huge dose of appreciation for what they bring: the lilting sound of foreign languages, the wonderful mannerisms that make great people-watching on the Broadwalk, and some damned good food. Le Comptoir is the cozy creation from chef-owner Céline Maury and her husband, Otis, both expats from Paris, who opened Le Comptoir in 2010. The restaurant's name translates roughly as "the bar," although the drink menu consists of just a few select wines and five domestic beers. The food menu is likewise concise: just four appetizers and seven entrées, but that's enough for the intimate space. Mussels — $16.50, offered in four styles: white wine, cream, curry, or Provençal — are the stars here, imported daily from Maine or Prince Edward Island, steamed to perfection, and dropped, in a two-pound pile, on your plate, with a side of homemade fries. Duck à l'orange and chicken cordon bleu are also on offer, but don't take the traditional dishes to mean that this is a stuffy French joint. Kids are welcomed with chicken nuggets and fish sticks, and the French Canadians who've discovered this place keep it warm with their laughter. (Have you heard the one about how many Americains it takes to screw in a light bulb? One to comment on how funny-looking the light bulbs are, two to sue the light-bulb maker, and five to convert the currency.) Wash down the ambience with a banana flambé or a crepe filled with Nutella or Céline's homemade jam. Merci beaucoup for this place.
Readers' Choice: The Tipsy Boar