At the suggestion of a friend who also happens to double as a local San Francisco restaurant critic, I made it a point to visit Bouche in the gastronomic wasteland of Union Square. I’m very glad I did. Convenient to an evening’s theatre plans, Guillaume Issaverdens’ unassuming hidden California-French bistro proved a welcome surprise of seasonal food amid charming surroundings. Tucked into an upstairs corner with views through mullioned windows the restaurant has all the rustic allure of a Loire farmhouse. A bottle of one of those wines you almost never find on a domestic wine list only reinforces the illusion. (Domaine Auchere Sancerre Rouge, as refreshing a spring red as you’re likely to ever find) Expectations henceforth were felicitously met: a deliriously good duck confit with beet puree and walnuts arrived under a bouquet of radish and spring greens. Sauteed calamari lightly dressed with mushrooms and citrus made a refreshing, less intense companion and foil. Lamb shoulder balanced the difficult task of tasting earthy without being too fatty or filling an entrée. (chickpea puree instead of potato was a clever deception) And a Proustian nod to the marinated salmon; one of those dishes I will be able to recall years hence. Delicately smoked slices of ruby red salmon come coiled atop a bird’s nest of crispy egg noodle, floating on a bed of creme fraiche. Nestled inside the nest: a perfectly poached egg. Creamy, crunchy, salty, smoky, the liaison of flavors and textures is heady, if not downright erotic. After this, dessert seems altogether unnecessary – what I really want is a cigarette.