The Washington Post

L’Auberge Chez Francois spawns a brasserie

Jacques Haeringer says he’s making the venerable L’Auberge Chez Francois -- popular for its Alsatian setting and six-course dinner menu -- more accessible for the chef’s “friends and neighbors who would like to come more often,” by opening Jacques’ Brasserie below the formal restaurant in Great Falls.

The 30-seat dining room and lounge (yes, the restaurant now has a bar) quietly opened over the weekend and serves tarts flambees, lobster bisque, fresh oysters, hanger steak, chicken in wine sauce and trout with almonds Tuesday through Sunday evenings.

L’Auberge Chez Francois has been offering something similar since November in its back dining room. The idea to move the concept to a spot of its own followed the death last June of Haeringer’s father, Francois, who opened the original L’Auberge Chez Francois in Washington in 1954 and continued to be a presence in the kitchen of the relocated restaurant until his passing at 91.

Why a brasserie now? “Dad didn’t want to do it before,” explains his son. “He didn’t want to change anything.” Jacques Haeringer, who didn’t always see eye to eye with his father, thinks “we got a little self-important over the years” by not offering something more approachable. The formal restaurant’s prix-fixe dinners cost $58 to $74 exclusive of drinks, tax and gratuity.

Entree prices in the brasserie, open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., run from $15 to $26. For reservations, call 703-759-3800.

See the late Francois Haeringer talk about his restaurant in this video from my 2010 Spring Dining Guide.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.

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