The Washington Post
Critic rating
Neighborhood: Fairfax County
Cuisine: French
Price: $$$$ ($35 and up)
Sound check: 67 decibels (Conversation is easy)
The longtime French dining destination retains the spirit of its founder, Francois “Papa” Haeringer, who died in 2010 at the age of 91.
Our Review

2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

Though he died in 2010 at 91, founder Francois “Papa" Haeringer remains a part of the French dining destination he nurtured for more than a half-century. “I'm still looking over my shoulder," jests a cordial waiter who tells us he has been with the restaurant for 23 years -- a mere pup, in other words. That's what I adore about L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls: its dedication to tradition. Walking into the foyer of this dowager, which is dressed in flowery curtains and grandfather clocks, I always look forward to the display of desserts, including the signature plum tart. Once I'm seated,
I know warm garlic toast and a spread of cottage cheese can't be far behind. The menu hasn't budged much since its early days; as ever, Dover sole and chocolate souffles are part of the script. Newcomers might consider the prices high, but regulars know dinner spans an appetizer (maybe mussels sizzling
in butter and garlic), a salad (go for tomatoes in season), dessert (soft meringue over ice cream calls to me) and coffee. Papa might not approve of the overcooked duck with wild rice, but I think he would be pleased to see that the choucroute is as bountiful as ever. What has been added in recent years only enhances the destination: lunch hours, happy hours and an a la carte room downstairs, Jacques' Brasserie, named for the founder's son and now the top toque.

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