Expensive, French and in a mall — there’s this place called Troquet located on the fourth floor of South Coast Plaza (and yeah, we all look like the model guy pictured there, of course), which I’d been wanting to try for some time. I’d heard good things about the place, the samples of menus I’d seen were interesting enough, and the atmosphere of wood and low key lamps suited my fancy. But then again, I’d also heard about the prices and expressed concerns, but such is the nature of food (especially in a place obsessed with money and status enough such that Versace, Prada and similar folks maintain stores there).

Finally had the opportunity to swing by it this past Friday night for a dinner with a good friend, and it turned out to be both more and less than what I expected. The food was, indeed, pretty damn grand — the monkfish bouillabaise which was my main course was utterly divine, the wine selections tastefully grand, the chocolate dessert a delight. Service was thorough and friendly, the ambiance was what I had hoped, I’ll go back again someday.

But the slight surprise was that even on a Friday night it was sorta empty. The outside patio looked pretty crammed, though, so I’m guessing it was down to people taking advantage of the unsurprisingly fine weather in my neck of the woods. The place didn’t look hurting, and it’s been around for a long while, so maybe this was an off night, but then again maybe the economy really IS that bad these days — which I knew already, but sometimes a good reminder doesn’t hurt.

And then again, we were in a mall. But they wisely positioned themselves at the Nordstroms end rather than the Sears.