Neighborhood restaurants breed comfort – they are places to gather and spots to dine or drink at after a long day. They make guests feel like they are home. Finding those spots can be tough, but one that passes the test is Bouche on Bush Street.

Located a few blocks from the heart of Union Square in the old Bar Crudo space next to Tunnel Top, owner Guillaume Issaverdens was originally planning on just a wine bar. “That’s my area of expertise – wine. But when I thought about it, I saw so many different wine bars opening around San Francisco. That’s when I met Nico and the rest is history.”

Nico being Nicolas Borzee, the executive chef at Bouche, who had previously worked under Daniel Patterson at Coi. Having a background in fine dining restaurants in the U.S. and France, Borzee has created a highly eclectic menu with hints of French, Mediterranean and California influence. “It may not be a typical, traditional French restaurant, but there are definitely aspects of a French bistro setting here (at Bouche),” Issaverdens said. “Our food really represents a mix of cultures. We change the menu as we see fit and by what is available at the local markets. With Nico’s background, guests definitely get a sense of that fine dining, technique-driven meal that one might expect, but in a cozy and comfortable setting.”

Although the restaurant is fairly quaint (seats about 35 total – 15 on the bottom floor and 20 upstairs), there is never a sense of being crowded at Bouche. Whether it’s sitting at the bar downstairs, on the back counter looking out Bush Street or upstairs at a table overlooking the kitchen, it all feels comfortable.

Borzee’s menu has some staples, but like many other places, it changes with what’s in season. The technique is there that you’ll see in any fine dining restaurant, but the food is not haute at all. Portions are larger in nature, providing great value to diners. The details in each dish are precise, from plating to visual appeal. From a taste and texture standpoint, there is a high level of complexity behind what is being offered from the kitchen. Ingredients are mixed and paired well together; and there is really something for everyone. Seafood plays a large role on the menu, but there are also dishes like pork belly and lamb shoulder that work well. The smaller menu also allows Borzee and his team the time to prepare dishes for the entire restaurant, despite the constraints of a fairly small kitchen.

Wines are hand-selected by Issaverdens and are almost entirely French. “There’s a lot of wines that guests will likely not find in any other restaurant in San Francisco. And for the most part, they are reasonable in price,” Issaverdens said. “Bouche is a restaurant but also a spot where our guests can stop in for a small bite and grab a nice glass of wine.”

Another huge advantage – while diners are constantly scouring the city for a late night dining spot, Bouche is open till 1:00 a.m. Monday – Saturday. Issaverdens said as they come up on their one-year anniversary (Bouche opened in December 2011), there’s a possibility of expanding service to include weekend brunch. Through the ups and downs of owning a restaurant, he is pleased that Bouche has created its own little spot in San Francisco’ culinary scene.

Bouche is located at 603 Bush Street. The restaurant is open Monday – Saturday from 5:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. each night.