In mid-September, I’m leading a group of foodies and wine enthusiasts on a ten-night Rhône River cruise with Tauk River Cruising. The itinerary is packed with cooking lessons, wine tastings, and delicious meals. Tauk just opened up three more cabins to our ever-growing group, so there are now a few spaces available for those interested in joining this culinary adventure. I’ve just put the finishing touches on the menu for a special dinner I’m hosting in Paris the night before we depart on the cruise. For more cruise details and registration, please click here; registration closes on September 1st.
The tomatoes in the garden are ripening as fast as we can use them. All of the tomatoes in our tomato salads are coming directly from the garden and we never harvest the tomatoes more than a few hours before they arrive on your table. I’ve been asked by several diners about my secret for growing such vigorous plants. Here are two tips: First, mix your coffee grounds into the soil. The coffee grounds add minerals and acidity to the soil, which tomatoes love, and the grounds attract beneficial earth worms to aerate the soil and create nutritious compost. Second, when you first put your seedlings into the ground, put ½ teaspoon of Epsom salts around the base of the plant. The salts also add minerals and discourage fungal growth. We have a lot of the booming tomato plants, as well as a video explaining how to make our simple but ever popular tomato salad. A fresh, vine-ripened tomato and a good vinaigrette are key to making a good tomato salad.
We continue to have a full slate of special, summer events here at L’Auberge Chez François. In August we’re hosting the next installments of our popular Musique et Cuisine and Garden to Table dinner series, in addition to a wine dinner and cooking demonstration hosted by me. You can view the latest schedule of special events here. Stayed tuned for more events coming this Fall, including a Grand Cru wine series and Latour Wines!
Breaking news! Beginning Tuesday, July 7th,Jacques’ Brasserie will be open for lunch! Many of our friends and neighbors have asked for a more casual, “drop in” dining option, and we listened. You may also make reservations for both lunch and dinner in the Brasserie on our webpage. I have added some classic and seasonal dishes to the Brasserie menu (think local grilled lamb tenderloin, veal scalloppini with Virginia ham, and hand-picked garden tomato salad with fresh herbs). I personally invite you to enjoy dining al fresco on our newly landscaped patio, complete with a bubbling fountain and evening lighting for extra ambiance. Also, don’t forget our popular Jacques’ Bar Rouge happy hour! Voilà et bon appétit.
July also brings inspiration for moi in the kitchen. We have squash, peppers, cucumbers, beans, and (finally) tomatoes coming out of our two on-site gardens. Fresh herbs are also in abundance and I’m prompted to come up with dishes that feature our home-grown produce in the most delicious ways. All of our dishes are garnished with our garden vegetables and herbs in season; and, the best part: whatever we make can be eaten outside, under the stars.
My brother, Paul, and I are happy to announce that Jacques’ Brasserie will open daily for lunch, beginning on Tuesday, July 7th. Many patrons have asked about the possibility of lunch service at the Brasserie and I’m happy to offer this more casual lunch option to our customers. The lunch menu at the Brasserie will feature our popular bistro classics like beef Bourguignon, steak frites, bouillabaisse, and onion soup. You can also choose one of our three tarte flambées (an Alsatian-style pizza): there is the classic with bacon and onion, our vegetarian option with wild mushrooms, or the seafood tarte flambée with smoked salmon and trout. Of course, the full L’Auberge lunch menu will continue to be available in our formal dining room upstairs. Reservations for Jacques’ Brasserie can now be made on OpenTable, you can click here to reserve.
The kitchen gardens are in full flush. Last week we began serving the first salads of the season made exclusively from greens grown right here on the property. You can’t beat the freshness and flavor of organically grown greens that have traveled only a few yards to reach your plate. Each year we refine the varieties of lettuces and greens that we grow to create the perfect salad. We hope you’ll come in and tell us what you think of this year’s selection of Bibb, arugula, and mesclun lettuces, as well as spinach..
Spring also means fresh herbs for making stocks, sauces and (best of all) signature cocktails. Those of you coming to this year’s first Garden to Table Extravaganza on May 18th will be sipping on the first, fresh mint juleps of the season and enjoying a refreshing citrus sorbet made with home-grown tarragon. The Garden to Table Extravaganzas will happen monthly from now through fall and each month’s menu will be inspired by what we’re harvesting from the gardens.There is a full calendar of wine dinners, demonstrations, and special events in May and our terrace is now open for outdoor dining. I invite you to enjoy a meal outside and tour the gardens.
The upcoming months are going to be delicious at L’Auberge Chez François.
Breaking news! L’Auberge Chez François is honored to receive another outstanding Zagat rating by our customers. In addition to the great Zagat news, L’Auberge Chez François has again been awarded the monthly OpenTable Diners’ Choice! Thank you for your patronage and taking the time to provide reviews and comments on your dining experience at L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie. Merci beaucoup!
We spent much of March spring cleaning and preparing for the warmer weather. We have painted the terrace chairs and tables and purchased new outdoor cushions for your dining comfort. We are mulching, landscaping and planting so that you may enjoy our beautiful scenery. We invite you to walk the grounds and visit our two large organic vegetable gardens. We are already harvesting ultra-fresh spinach to add to our salad mix and featured in the grilled shrimp and goat cheese salad. This is our Recipe of the Month and one of Chef Jacques’ favorite healthy, leafy green vegetables (see below).
Enough of the winter wonderland, we’re thinking spring! I have been happily leafing through the various organic seed catalogs, calculating how much to purchase to ensure a bountiful harvest for our guests. I have several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, green beans, French radishes, spinach, sorrel, squash and the list goes on (to name a few). We also have six types of lettuces to combine into a special green salad that we’ll serve in the spring. Even with the ground still partially frozen, we’re conditioning the soil with organic compost and coffee grounds in anticipation of spring planting. I can’t wait to get my hands “dirty” again in the gardens!
I was delighted to see L’Auberge Chez François mentioned in a recent Washington Post article featuring a prominent financial advisor and long-time customer, Stephen Cassaday, who hosts regular dinners for his prospective clients at L’Auberge (you can read the full article below). We are honored many people already think of us when they’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday, we also host corporate parties, special events, and weddings at L’Auberge and downstairs at Jacques’ Brasserie. You may email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss holding your special event with us.
Stay warm, and if you can make out, please join us for a cozy meal near the fireplace.
L’Auberge Chez François has been voted one of Top 100 Restaurants in the Country and the Most Romantic by OpenTable diners, in addition to numerous other awards through our 60 plus years. The romantic awards, are perhaps, my favorite accolades of all because I believe that creating romance requires the delicate blend of delicious food, fine libations, exceptional service, and elegant ambiance. It’s truly satisfying for me and the entire team at L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie to know that we’re helping to create a magical evening.
Staying home? As many of you know, I think cooking for that special someone is also a “tres” romantic treat! Plan a meal that involves cooking together. It is the energy you put into the preparation and serving of the final meal that is sexy. Love really does begin in the kitchen.
No matter where you spend Valentine’s Day, I wish you love, romance and delicious food on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
Paul and I, and the entire L’Auberge Chez François family, wish you a very healthy, happy, and prosperous new year. We would like to thank each of you for your patronage, making 2014 one of our best years ever. The year started off with our 60th anniversary and ended with the announcement that we were once again awarded the Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2014 by Open Table Diners’ Choice. It is because of you, our loyal patrons, that we have had such great success. Merci beaucoup!
By popular demand, in 2015 L’Auberge Chez François’ team is expanding our special events: Chef Jacques’ hosted cooking demos and luncheons, music series dinners, wine and garden to table dinners, craft beer dinners, and oh so many more exciting events!
We are proud that we’ve been part of your friends and families’ celebrations and can’t wait to continue making more memories with you!
Happy holidays from all of us at L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie. As we kick into high gear for our busiest season of the year, I am thankful to have such an excellent team, whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to be a Washington-area institution for sixty years. Many of our regular customers request a favorite server when they come in for lunch or dinner and we’re always happy to oblige when we can. But our customers only ever meet a fraction of the people who keep everything running in perfect time during their meals. We have over eighty employees, many of whom are hard at work in the back of the house. Behind the copper doors that lead to la cuisine,an ensemble of pot washers, line cooks, chefs, and pastry chefs staff stations around our large kitchen to ensure that the French fries at the Brasserie are pleasingly crispy and the lobster upstairs is sauced just right. Customers may view the goings on in the kitchen through a window adjacent to the main entrance of L’Auberge. If you’d like a closer look, feel free to ask your server for a tour of the kitchen.
We are getting ready for the holidays, our busiest time of year at L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie. I’m always happy to see so many of our loyal customers celebrate the holidays with us. I want to thank all of you who make us part of your holiday traditions year after year. As is our tradition, we will turn on our holiday lights at L’Auberge on Thanksgiving. Great Falls practically experiences a brownout when the lights are switched on.
The arrival of Fall means that our Pumpkin Mousse Cake is back on the menu along with our game dish, Red Deer Chop, Grilled Quail, and Wild Rice served with Roebuck Sauce. And, those of you joining us on Thanksgiving will be treated to a five course dinner menu with options that include our Ashleigh Farms organic turkey dinner with all the traditional trimmings.
Our full holiday schedule is below and I look forward to seeing you in the coming months. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.