Mathilde: A Mouthwatering French Bistro

in Food & Drink

We arrived at Mathilde on time for our 5:30 reservation, a bit cold and soggy from the persistent rain that washed the Yerba Buena neighborhood that Saturday evening. And we were gripped with the unshakeable mood for some excellent French food. Mathilde did not disappoint. 


We began to feel dry, warm, and comfortable within moments of being seated. The restaurant is cozy and warmly lit with candles and whimsical Parisian decor.  Our waiter, a charming chap imported directly from Paris helped peruse the menu loaded with enticing and delicious sounding dishes.


Menu Moves


I dined with my folks that night who are always game to try out restaurants, especially French bistros. With our eyes glued to our menus, we briefly discussed and agreed upon our ordering strategy which would be to request a few different items and split them all three ways. We can cover much more ground this way.


Our waiter returned to our table after we set down our menus, and we wasted no time in expressing our wants for the evening. He was a great help, and we ultimately decided upon the Warm Bijou goat cheese salad, which he explained was made with a baked apple on a crouton covered with melted goat cheese and candied walnuts. We were sold! Onto the next items.


We then ordered the Onion soup gratinée (with croutons and gruyère), a special that evening, a rack of lamb outfitted with potatoes, and the Chicken Coq au Vin. 


I snacked on some fresh-baked bread while the cooks worked their magic, and my parents and I met other members of the service staff. We were genuinely touched by how friendly and kind they were as they told us of their favorite dishes, how they came to be here, and where they like to visit in San Francisco. 


Bon Appétit!


When our salad arrived, we all took a moment to first feast with our eyes. It was a gorgeous salad with its light green leaves and yummy-looking goat cheese. It was utterly delicious, with its satisfying combination of flavors: the sweet, savory, tangy and the nutty. Our hungers were duly assuaged by this first dish, but it was so tasty that it effectively spurred on our appetites so that we were wildly anticipating the next item, which was the Onion soup. 




The soup arrived at our table piping hot, its flavorful broth sitting robustly under a canopy of baked gruyère. We decided to knock down part of the cheese top and let the heat disperse before we indulged ourselves, spoons at the ready.


Our rack of lamb, in generous proportion came next. It was served with divine golden potatoes scalloped and seared to perfection, carrying a light garlic flavor. The lamb was amazingly tender and tasty. We wolfed down the chops, returning to the delicious Onion soup now and again.



Even the frigid rain outside looked envious as it slipped down the window panes watching us tucked warmly away, in culinary heaven.


Then, the Chicken Coq au Vin emerged. This stew was hearty in its red wine flavor, but yet felt light to eat. It was delectable. I began to postulate about the magical alchemy of superb French cooking, how there always seems to be a balance of flavors that keeps people very satisfied, yet not too grossly over-stuffed.


Our table was cleared, and we were asked about dessert. My mom didn’t have to think twice, upon hearing that the bistro offered a chocolate mousse. 


“We’ll take the mousse!”


The Mousse



It arrived minutes later, served in a cute little dish and a cookie and strawberries as garnish. Not that the mousse needed much else; it was a delicacy unto itself. Thick and creamy, but yet airy and delightful, with a hint of the bittersweet countering the sweetness of the dessert: it was perfect. The berries were fresh and perfectly sweet with a dash of the tart, and the cookie was a profound paradox of crispiness and also a soft chewiness. 


A sublime, lovely way to finish our dinner and our intriguing night upon the town.


Mathilde is located at 315 5th Street in San Francisco. Visit their website for information on hours and making reservations. The bistro can be reached at 415.546.6128.