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Restaurants & Bars 4

Le Francais - a report

Vanessa R | Feb 24, 200503:27 PM

My husband and I dined at Le Francais last Saturday night. It was our first time and we, admittedly, had very high expectations. We were there celebrating a special occasion and decided we wanted the full “experience”. Thus, we ordered the seven-course degustation and requested that the sommelier provide us with wine pairings for each course. While I cannot remember everything we ate and drank, here’s a rundown of what I do recall.

The amuse bouche was a seared scallop with a creamy curry sauce. It was delicate and delicious. The first course in our degustation had three items beautifully presented on a long, rectangular platter. One was a heart of palm salad that tasted fine, but wasn’t a standout. Next was a beet sorbet over frisee dressed with a truffle vinaigrette. This was unusual and excellent. The final dish was extraordinary—a bowl of caviar gelée with cauliflower whipped cream. My husband and I tried to determine the flavoring of the gelee—we think it may have been made with the restaurant’s famous duck consommé. We’re unsure though. Also the cauliflower whipped cream was amazing and perfectly accented the caviar, which was the least salty caviar I’ve ever tasted. Not sure what kind it was. The sommelier paired a great Blanc de blanc champagne with this course. The next course is a little dim in my memory. I think it was a scallop cake and a salad of some sort. The wine paring was an tasty Sancerre. Following that course was my favorite: the sautéed foie gras with quince slices in some sort of rich, boozy reduction. It was perfect. The sommelier served this with a wine (which type escapes me) that was very similar to a sauterne, but a tad less syrupy. Extraordinary is the word that comes to mind. For the fourth course, we received roasted wolf fish with tomato/basil Sauce and eggplant caviar. It was delicious. Can’t remember the wine pairing. The fifth course consisted of one grilled lamb loin chop and a squab breast cooked medium rare then wrapped in crispy spring roll wrappers. On the side, there was a bowl of truffle oil foam with black truffle shavings on top. The foam was amazing with both meats. The sommelier chose a Bordeaux to serve with this course and the next, which was a cheese course with fruit, nuts and dried fruit baguette. The final course consisted of three desserts, of which I can only remember two: a small chocolate soufflé and a Grand Marnier crème brulee with citrus zest on top. Overall, I would say the food was excellent and inventive without being too trendy.

As to service, our waiter was welcoming and friendly. We never wanted for anything; the timing of the wine and the food was flawless. I will note that, while the sommelier is clearly very talented, his personality did not fit with the serene atmosphere of the restaurant. He was very keyed up and a little over the top. However, he may have been having an off night, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. To conclude, Le Francais met and exceeded our very high expectations. I would highly recommend it for haute cuisine and fine wine.

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