It is hard to believe that the season is upon us, but we’re getting ready for the holidays at L’Auberge Chez François and at Jacques’ Brasserie. Decorations are going up and holiday favorites like our apple tart, pumpkin mousse cake, and savory game dishes are back on the menu. The upcoming holidays also mean a rush for reservations in November and December, so I’ve posted our holiday schedule on our site and listed some of the key dates below. We’re already taking reservations for Thanksgiving Day and we’ll be open the last three Mondays in December to accommodate everyone who wants to celebrate the season here with us.
We are very proud to announce that L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie have been named in OpenTable’s 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2016. We’re happy to bring the experience of classic, Alsatian cooking to the foodies who visit our sliver of the French countryside in Virginia.
As we approach fall, our on-site gardens are still going strong. Tomatoes, cabbages, and all manners of salad greens are being harvested each morning before making an appearance on your plate in the afternoons and evenings.
Looking ahead, October is Virginia Wine Month and we’re celebrating with our own Virginia Wine Festival and a Best of Virginia Wine Dinner. Also in October will be a tasting of Maison Louis Jadot Burgundy Wines and a brunch-themed cooking demonstration hosted by yours truly, Chef Jacques. Details on all of our special events are below and we hope to see you this fall.
Summer and the gardens at L’Auberge Chez François are in full bloom. We kicked off August and the new weekend brunch in Jacques’ Brasserie with some twists on brunch favorites, including my favorite Tartes Flambées Benedicts; and a delectable Bloody Mary made with freshly juiced, vine-ripened tomatoes.
All of the tomatoes in our 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’re very happy to be introducing our new Brasserie Brunch that will be served at Jacques’ Brasserie on Saturdays beginning at 11:30am and Sundays starting at noon. Our Brunch includes Sauders’ Lancaster Organic Farm Fresh Omelettes, Jacques’ Alsatian Tarte Flambées Benedict, and our version of Crêpes Suzette. We take reservations for brunch, as well as walk-ins, and the regular Brasserie menu options will also be available. Don’t forget our Brasserie Brunch “Pick me Ups” including our Chez Francois tasty Mimosa, L’Aperitif du Patron, and a nice glass of Cremant d’Alsace! We hope you’ll come in to sample an Alsatian-style brunch one weekend soon.
We’ve waited long enough – the weather is finally nice enough for outdoor dining on our terraces. You can eat outdoors at L’Auberge or downstairs at Jacques’ Brasserie, as long as weather and space permit. Our organic, kitchen gardens are an easy stroll from either terrace, if you’d like to see where the salad greens for the entire restaurant are being grown. You’ll also see that the tomatoes are coming in and we’re just a month away from fresh, tomato salads from the garden.
April was a special month for us since we celebrated L’Auberge Chez François’ 40th anniversary. I want to thank everyone who came to one of our special anniversary events in April. It was wonderful for me to see so many of our long-time patrons and friends. We were especially honored to have a few guests attend our anniversary celebration who also dined with us on our very first night in April of 1976.
Almost all the herbs used at the restaurant will come directly from our gardens. We’ll be growing basil, chervil, shiso, thyme and mint, to name a few. I’ll be adding our fresh herbs to salads and, of course, flavoring our sauces and main dishes with them. And, I’ll be faced with the very exciting task of working with our head sommelier to come up with ways to use our fresh herbs in our signature cocktails. Please come by to take a tour of the gardens and enjoy an herbaceous cocktail on the terrace.
Don’t forget the gift of good food and wine for birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. We have a full calendar of cooking demonstrations and wine dinners scheduled for this spring and summer.
This month we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary of L’Auberge Chez François in Great Falls and we’re gearing up for the week of April 18-24 with numerous special events, starting with our Champagne Taittinger Celebration Dinner. We continue the week with a Parisian dinner with music, a cooking demonstration and luncheon, a dinner featuring Chef Jacques favorite dishes and culminating in a dinner on Sunday that is a tribute to Papa Haeringer.
For all diners during this week, we feature a Special Wine List with superb value pricing to enjoy with your meal, or to purchase and enjoy at home. Jacques and Company, here from France, will be entertaining all our guests on our actual anniversary on the evening of April 20th, along with a favorite Cremant toast for to honor of my Father and Mother, “pioneers” to Great Falls and our loving founders.
It was April 20,1976 that we served our first dinner in Great Falls. The plan on opening night was to serve seventy-five people. My father and I planned to do all the cooking while my mother would prepare the pastries. Always generous with his customers, Dad could not say no to the loyal patrons who wanted to be there for the opening and the restaurant ended up way overbooked. After the first seating, there was no food left to serve. Prepared to go out and tell his customers that we were out of almost everything, Dad was saved when a sudden thunderstorm knocked out the power. How could the restaurant serve dinner with no electricity? No one had to know that there was also no food left in the kitchen.
Since that stormy night in 1976, we’ve served thousands of customers and I’ve endeavored to continue my father’s dream of a traditional auberge with delicious food and warm service. Thank you to all of our patrons who have made memories with us over the years. It has been a pleasure serving you and here’s to many more celebrations with our family at L’Auberge Chez François and Jacques’ Brasserie.
Spring officially arrived on Sunday, March 20! Our two on-site organic gardens have already been tilled and seeds planted for the many vegetables and herbs that you’ll see on all of our menus. The spinach and sorrel are ready to harvest, with many more to follow! Spring also brings morel mushrooms, asparagus, lettuces and greens; all of which inspire our team to create the most healthful and flavorful dishes. Bon appétit!
Looking ahead to April, L’Auberge Chez François is celebrating our 40th Anniversary. Forty years ago, my papa closed Chez Francois in Washington D.C. and moved his restaurant to the “Virginia countryside”, hence L’Auberge Chez Francois! We have a full schedule of special events planned to celebrate this milestone. More details on our special celebratory anniversary events, cooking demonstrations, and grand anniversary dinner featuring Taittinger champagnes are listed/linked below. Come celebrate with our family! Thanks for your patronage, support and friendship through the years!
Cheers to Spring!
Chef Jacques, Paul, and the team of L’Auberge Chez François
L’Auberge Chez François “Goes Italian” (& Argentinean) Sommelier Wine Dinner
Chef Jacques and our sommelier Alex Bardsley invite you on Thursday, March 31st at 6:30pm for a MASI wine dinner. This special event will feature wines from Italy and Argentina. The name Masi comes from “Vaio dei Masi,” the little valley purchased by the Boscaini family in the late 18th Century. Tony Apostolakos, US Director of Sales and Marketing for Masi Agricola will guide us as we sip and taste our way through this evening’s menu degustation and wine pairings.
Chef Jacques’ Cheese Lovers Cooking Demonstration and Luncheon
Join Chef Jacques Haeringer and Karen Dee, Cheese Monger & Specialist at International Gourmet Foods, on Saturday, April 9th at 11:00am. You will enjoy a Cheese Lovers Cooking Demo and Luncheon not to be missed! Savor local, imported and Grand French artisanal cheeses incorporated into some of Chef Jacques’ favorite recipes and of course, paired with three delectable wines plus an added glass of Sauternes, chosen by our sommelier, Alex Bardsley for this “Fromage Extraordinaire” event!
Please join us on April 14th at 6:30pm as Pinto Naravane of Rasa Vineyards intoduces us to to five of the family’s wines paired with Chef Jacques’ six-course dinner menu. Getting bitten by the wine bug can change your life, or at least your career plans. Born in India and raised in New Jersey, brothers Pinto and Billo Naravane became fascinated by wine early, but continued to work in the computer industry for many years. Then Billo decided to study viticulture and enology at UC Davis. The Naravanes founded Rasa Vineyards in Walla Walla in 2007, the name coming from a Sanskrit word meaning “essence” and “juice”, to indicate their focus on producing terroir-driven, site-expressive wines.
Chef Jacques asks “How does one celebrate a major milestone?” “Mais oui, bien sûr” with Chef’s Menu Dégustation featuring Osetra Caviar, Truffles, Maine Lobster & Scallops, Dover Sole, and Champagne Taittinger, of course! This festive and celebratory evening will begin at 6:30pm with live music from world-renowned accordionist, Jacques Pellarin & Co. The evening continues with Chef Jacques presenting an exquisite six-course menu with specially selected fine champagnes, by Taittinger. Numerous celebratory surprise treats in store for all, including L’Auberge Chez François’ complimentary memorabilia, Taittinger raffle items and our guests signing Taittinger’s commemorative magnum.
40th Anniversary – “Vive la France” Musique et Cuisine featuring Jacques Pellarin & Co.
Please join us on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00pm for the first of two special evenings of Parisian music, a classically inspired six-course menu and three sommelier paired French wines. We welcome back from France, Jacques Pellarin and his lovely wife and lifelong “muse”, Corrine. Jacques Pellarin has brought the sounds of the French country side to all corners of the globe, sharing his French cinema inspired accordion compositions. “We are thrilled and honored to host Jacques Pellarin & Co. as we celebrate our milestone anniversary with musique et cuisine” says Chef Jacques.
40th Anniversary Cooking Demonstration and Luncheon – “Celebrating the Classics”
Please join us during our “40th Anniversary in Great Falls” week with Chef Jacques “Celebrating the Classics” cooking demonstration and luncheon. A sure to be lively event, chock full of anecdotes, history and lore of Papa and Mama’s move to the “country” to open their dream “L’Auberge”. Enjoy Chef’s specially chosen five-course classic French menu with wine pairings selected by Paul Haeringer. An event not to be missed, as we continue our week-long anniversary special culinary celebrations!
40th Anniversary – “Vive la France” Musique et Cuisine featuring Jacques Pellarin & Co.
Continuing our 40th anniversary week culinary celebrations, please join us on Friday, April 22nd at 7:00pm for the second evening of Parisian music with Jacques Pellarin & Co. Jacques plays the accordion while his wife, Corrine, sings the vocals. Chef Jacques has a special fondness for the accordion, as he too learned the accordion at a very young age, and enjoys reliving the lively and popular music and sounds of France. French magazine “Le Progres” says: “They bring back almost a century of the traditional French ‘chansons’ from artists like Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and Francis Lemarques. With just voice and accordion, Jacques Pellarin & Co. captivates audiences and transports them to the dance halls and street side cafes of France’s yesteryears!
A Tribute to Papa Haeringer – Celebrating 40 Years in Great Falls, Virginia
Please join Chef Jacques and Paul Haeringer and the entire team of L’Auberge Chez François in celebrating our fortieth anniversary in our Great Falls, VA. location. This year also marks a total of 62 years for the Family in both locations, including the original “Chez François” in downtown Washington, DC. During this special evening, you will watch a video history that was a labor of love, spearheaded and produced by my cousin, and Papa’s nephew and namesake, François “Mano” Haubtmann. Over many years of smiles, edits and tears, it took some coaxing for Papa to complete, and we are grateful to Mano for his steadfastness in getting this to its final version as we hear Papa in “his own words” tonight.
Tune in on Tuesday, March 29th during the 10:00 hour as Chef Jacques joins Kathie Lee and Hoda on the TODAY show. The “It’s Easier than You Think” segment will feature our own bouillabaisse (medley of fresh fish and shellfish in saffron broth) recipe. He will also be making garlic croutons that would pair perfectly with the infamous L’Auberge Chez François herbed cottage cheese spread. Chef always enjoys visiting Kathie Lee and Hoda and can’t wait for you to cook his bouillabaisse at home!
Team Member of the Month
Mauricio Escobar has been working at L’Auberge Chez François since March 1994. He is a hard working, reliable sous chef who is always able to hold down most of the stations on the cook line. Mauricio’s quiet and calm demeanor helps him lead in the kitchen, and ensures that the restaurant is running efficiently and at its best. Thank you, Mauricio!
Monsieur François Compétition
Congratulations to Elizabeth and Erin B. of Reston, Virginia for winning the February Monsieur François’ Profile Embellishment Competition. Elizabeth and Erin will receive a $200 gift certificate to L’Auberge Chez François.
Be sure to follow L’Auberge Chez François on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for behind the scenes photos, specials, and more.
As always, a reminder to the guys out there who just remembered that Valentine’s Day is soon: Don’t call me for a reservation! The restaurant has been booked for weeks for Valentine’s evening. Along with New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving, Valentine’s is one of our busiest nights. If I may, I suggest making a reservation for a romantic dinner at L’Auberge Chez François or Jacques’ Brasserie on another night in February to make up for it.
Happy New Year to all of you. We had a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration at L’Auberge Chez François. Quelle fête! Even though I work long hours on New Year’s Eve (such is the life of a chef), I always get to celebrate royally because my friends, family, and long-time customers join me here at the restaurant to ring in the new year.
2015 was a good year for L’Auberge: We expanded our on-site gardens to provide even more home-grown produce for the kitchens, we opened for lunch at Jacques’s Brasserie and we expanded our happy hour times and offerings at Bar Rouge (have you been for happy hour yet?). For the third year in a row, L’Auberge Chez François was named one of the 100 Best Overall Restaurants in America by diners on Open Table. And, Washingtonian magazine told the rest of D.C. what many of you already know: that our Châteaubriand is one of the very best steaks in town (the best if you ask me).
Looking to 2016, I’ve posted my January and February special events and cooking demonstration schedule. Many of the January demonstrations are already sold out but there are still tickets to my annual Carnivore Lovers and Seafood Lovers Valentine’s Day classes.
This balmy weather is perfect for a drink outside, around our outdoor fire pit. The fire pit is open nightly (weather permitting) and we’ll be happy to serve you a selection from our winter cocktail menu while you relax around the fire.
I hope to see many of you in 2016 and I send you my best wishes for a happy and delicious 2016.