Editors' pick

L'Auberge Chez Francois

French
$$$$ ($35 and up)
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Editorial 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.