In need of a takeaway meal that offers a little something special, my thoughts turned, as they do, to France. Or, in this case, to a local representative: Moulin Bistro in Newport Beach, where chickens baste in a rotisserie imported from France, potatoes become pommes frites, and celery root is grated rémoulade. Proximity to the airport was a big plus since we’d be picking up the meal and my husband’s sister and taking them both to an early birthday dinner for my father-in-law.
The restaurant does have online ordering, but it’s geared for individual meals so I called to investigate a family-style option. It was easy to arrange—whole chickens are $16, vegetable salades are $10 a pound, and baked on-site baguettes ($3) and pastries (various prices) complete the package. Or, almost: We added a couple of bottles of white Burgundy. I chose a selection of salads: grated carrot with vinaigrette, two-color tomato with burrata, roasted pink and red beets, lentil, cucumber with dill, as well as the aforementioned céleri rémoulade. Several orders of frites and a side of the thin, flavorful sauce they pour over the chicken at serving and we were set. At dinner, everyone marveled at the chicken’s tenderness and flavor, and the individual dressings and seasonings on the salads.
If you do call Moulin, it’s best to do so outside peak hours—a little difficult to gauge because it’s busy almost all the time! Service is accommodating and sweet.
Moulin provides Franco-Californian ambiance every day, furnished entirely with items owner Laurent Vrignaud imported from his native country. And, of course, there’s all that French spoken in the dining room and on the patio. But Sunday, when we stopped in to pick up our food, female musicians played accordion and sang French chansons, and at one long table, a multi-generation family was winding down after Sunday lunch. Next time, we’re eating in.
More Moulin to come: This spring, the restaurant is expanding—construction is already underway. All the pastry and bread baking will move next door into the new space, along with the grab-and-go prepared foods case. And maybe other locals will be as thrilled as I was to hear that there’ll be a line of ice creams from Edouard Vicqueneau, whose gourmet desserts grace the menu of many high-end O.C. restaurants. Vicqueneau has recently been consulting chef at Cathy Pavlos’ Provenance in Newport Beach. The move makes room for more savory items like cheese and charcuterie on the original side. After the build-out is complete, owner Vrignaud plans to open for dinner five nights a week.