Jeune et Jolie
2659 State St., Carlsbad
French food through the lens of Southern California: That’s the gist of Jeune et Jolie. The food is like the space: beautiful, thoughtful, and special. Make a reservation and come early. That way you can grab a seat at the raw bar, order some oysters and mussels, and peruse the drink menu. They call their cocktails “exploratory,” but don’t be scared—they just want you to know the drinks are inspired by the Belle Epoque. If you’re feeling it, order from the absinthe menu and brace for impact. Equally exciting is something called a Madagascar (a concoction built on peanut butter brandy and vanilla honey), or play it safe with the wine list. When it’s time to eat, we highly recommend the pain et beurre (yes, the bread and butter—but not just any bread and butter: rich, pillowy milk bread and perfectly executed baguette with a side of Normandy butter). Then try the scallops with sunchokes. And don’t leave until you get the mille feuille au chocolat or the citron vacherin. Oh hell, get them both—and the vin santo. This place is that special.