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Restaurants & Bars 1

Le Francais

JeffB | Jul 29, 200201:02 PM

After years of avoiding the long trip to Wheeling, my wife and I filled a serious gap in our fine dining resume. Without going into too many details, the food was great. Yamauchi is especially talented with seafood, and the strongest part of the "epicurean" menu were the early shellfish courses and a panko-crusted tuna/foie gras combination. A nice twist on the tasting menu was his decision to begin the meal with larger courses and to make the later, richer courses (ending with kobe beef) progressively smaller. The cheese course was almost comically small, but by then was actually just right. Boneless braised pig's foot stuffed with a plantain was very cool. (Hawaiian, Cuban inspired?) Old-fashioned service by mature, dry-witty professionals was also a treat. Pacing was a tad quick, but comfortable. Wine menu was reasonably priced, but consisted mainly of fairly inexpesive and easy-to-find pours. Pomerol for the beef was an exception. Overall I'm glad I did it. On the negative side, the room is a bit tired by today's standards, especially at this price. The flowers were kind of sad as well. Desserts were forgettable. Finally, toward the evening's end, there was a vague tension in the room owing to some disagreement between the chef and the front of house staff. (This didn't bother us, as it added drama.) I'm also sad to report that the room was never more than about 60% full.

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