Our Favorite French Inspired Spots
Felix: Felix is a spot that I would visit based on atmosphere alone, the space is bright and cozy at the same time outfitted with subway tiled walls, large mirrors, royal blue bar chairs and French posters. However, there is more substance to Felix than just a pretty space, the service is friendly and quick without being overbearing. The cocktail list is inventive and has a little something for everyone, although there were quite a few ingredients that I am unfamiliar with. I went with the Pora, Pora because I love all things tequila and really loved the drink. Mezcal in cocktails for me can often be overpowering to me, but I found this drink to be perfectly balanced and really enjoyed the hint of chilly from the chilly lime bitters. I had unfortunately already eaten when I visited, but I did spot several dishes on their menu that I’m dying to try like the lobster deviled eggs, tarte flamebee (mushroom flatbread) and chicken liver mousse. Their menu is made up of mostly small plates which I love.
Bistro A Vin: Full disclosure, Bistro A Vin is KLAPR’s newest client, but I fell in love with its charm the moment I stepped in the door. Bistro A Vin is a wine bistro located next to its sister restaurant Cafe Framboise. The interior of Bistro A Vin is intimate and chic with exposed brick and an eye-catching metal bar (I learned from the owner that it is made of Zinc). The wine list at Bistro A Vin is quite extensive with wines from all over France such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and lesser-known regions like Loire Valley and Alsace. Bistro A Vin has an incredible cheese and charcuterie menu with many of their cheeses being sourced directly from France. In addition to meats and cheeses, Bistro A Vin offers a full dinner menu which is rare with wine bars, the menu offers classic French dishes such as escargot and duck confit. The owner of Bistro A Vin is a pastry chef by trade, so their house-made desserts are a must try and include creme brulee, crepes and macaroons. There’s authenticity in everything that Bistro A Vin does and it is surprisingly affordable with glasses of wine ranging from 8-12 dollars and almost all entrees being under 20.
Nico: Nico is kind of departure from its neighbors on Shem Creek and in my opinion a much-needed addition to the area. The menu is heavily seafood focused with a lot of raw bar offerings, including 12 varieties of oysters. I like that almost half of their oysters are local. Their staff was very knowledgeable and patient explaining the oysters, which I appreciated. Nico also has quite a few caviar offerings, which is a fun addition to the menu, although I have not had the opportunity to try any yet. I can’t speak much for their larger plates, but I have tried most of their smaller plates and sides. I really enjoyed their octopus, which is nice and tender and served over a ratatouille, I like the harissa honey on this dish because it's the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I also really liked their Shrimp & Periwinkle and love the garlic-y sauce, the mushrooms ‘champignon’ though simple is another favorite because they are done perfectly. A seafood-focused menu is obviously nothing new, but I love that Nico has added French flavors to local ingredients.
Chez Nous: I’ve written about Chez Nous before and recently visited again for a special occasion and was blown away once again. Chez Nous is French for ‘with us’ and the restaurant has a very inviting feel of having dinner in someone’s home. The menu is not solely French and is influenced by the flavors of Southern France, Northern Italy and Northern Spain. As I shared before they only offer two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts every day for lunch/brunch and dinner, which can be a little bit tricky for picky eaters. What I love about Chez Nous food is that it is simple, flavorful and really lets the ingredients shine. Their recent menu featured a seared duck over trumpet mushrooms and it was outstanding. The duck was cooked to perfection, but what actually really stood out for me in the dish were the roasted trumpet mushrooms. While all the savory dishes I have tried have been impeccable their desserts are what I look forward to the most. Their Nutella tort is something I think about regularly even though it has been months since I’ve eaten it. This last visit they served an olive oil cake that was again out of this world. It was had just the right amount of lemon flavor and was incredibly moist.