Norbert and Michéle Juhasz have resided in Port Angeles for over 30 years now, and during that time they have operated C'est Si Bon just right off of Highway 101 in Port Angeles, Washington. Located on the top of Morse Creek hill, across from the Deer Park Cinemas.
The Los Angeles Times once announced C'est Si Bon as one of the country's best restaurants. However, this review is by no means a fluke. C'est Si Bon is the only starred french restuarant in Washington state outside of Seattle. The heart and soul of the kitchen is Michéle, who is so familiar with food she seems to work magic right before your eyes if you're lucky enough to witness her perform. Michéle has been making gastronomical delights most all of her life, starting out as a private chef for Hollywood stars before moving to the Northwest and founding C'est Si Bon with Norbert.
Michéle's domain is the kitchen, and her husband Norbert is a master maitre d'. He chats with the customers, getting a feeling for what they like to eat and drink, and takes great pride in taking each table's order personally. He personifies the fabled Frenchman who loves company, food, and music, whilst wanting to be the center of it all! Norbert was a professional violinist for many years, working in Hollywood as a studio musician. During this time period he also helped Michelle to run a catering business for many of the Hollywood elite.
Over the years, Michéle has perfected her ideas and concepts of French food. Most food cooked in France is created with only fresh ingredients, or whatever is available during that season. The French discourage using frozen or canned food if possible as to always achieve the greatest gastronomical experience. Michéle is not a chef in the sterotypical style of "Haut" French cuisine, her style is No-Nonsense ("nouveau"), cooking simply and wonderfully.
"French food is usually cooked very simply and never overcooked," Michéle says. "You want food and spices to tease the palate. You want a bouquet in your mouth. The vegetables should be firm and crunchy. The meat should have most all fat trimmed off. Sometimes we have a sauce to enhance a dish -- not to cover it like gravy, but to bring out the full flavor."
Walking into C'est Si Bon is like stumbling into a European castle with trimmed gardens bursting with pastel flowers. "I like the feel of castles with the glitter, crystals and flowers," Norbert says. "I always try to enhance it - to make it more beautiful. To me it is like a little French oasis in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula."
The Juhasz's say there is a lot of misunderstanding about French food. After years of feeding hungry Northwesterners, the couple learned that hearty portions brought customers back. Although there is art in the manner and presentation in which food is served, Michéle does not fit tiny portions on a big plate decorated with one carrot and a single mushroom. It's quite a rarity that a customer may leave the restaurant still hungry.
Although French wines are listed on the menu Norbert says there are many less expensive California and Washington wines that are comparable if not more pleasing. Norbert's favorite appellation is actually that of Napa Valley, and would prefer a Cabernet from California over a bottle of French wine any night. He is constantly sampling new wines to see how they hold up to such foods as roast duck, and rabbit cooked in tarragon sauce, to ascertain whether they can make the cut to be on the winelist.
"It is not the meal that will be punished if you serve the wrong wine, it's the wine," Norbert says with intensity. "Foods will interfere with the taste of the wine. You don't want to interfere, you want them to get along. To live in Harmony!"
Norbert and Michéle welcome you to C'est Si Bon and hope to see you soon!
Cest si Bon - Port Angeles, Washington - (360) 452-8888