Late yesterday afternoon, the opening crew of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, Robert Thompson's new French restaurant at 1512 Curtis Street, assembled in the kitchen to get a taste of executive chef Sergio Romero's menu, which Thompson calls "everyday French comfort food."
Le Grand, he says, "is not trying to do anything new or groundbreaking." Instead, insists Thompson, "We're trying to achieve pleasure and enthusiasm by perfecting the French classics, offering good wines at an approachable price and maintaining the integrity and essence of French cuisine by refusing to resort to modern spins."
Thompson, who, along with his ex-wife, Leigh Jones, opened (and subsequently closed) Brasserie Rouge, one of the best French restaurants this city has seen, says that Le Grand is the "recreation of Parisian bistros and brasseries from times past." This is a restaurant, he continues, "that takes us back to an era when eating mussels and frites, a great plate of cheese and drinking a half-liter of wine wasn't a special event but an everyday occurrence."
Come Monday, when Le Grand opens to the public, you can get a real taste of the mussels and frites -- and drink yourself into a stupor -- but I took the liberty of hijacking the kitchen yesterday, snapping food shot after food shot to give all you habitues a sneak peek of what's to come.
Braised lamb shank, glossed with glace de viande, and plated with parsnip puree, baby carrots, pearl onions and sprigs of chevril. Deep-fried frog legs served with Worcestershire aioli and dressed greens. Steak au poivre topped with herbed maître d'hôtel butter and accompanied by a potato gallete. A Dijon vinaigrette-dressed salad of frisée, lardons, fresh orange segments, walnuts and a poached egg. Roasted chioga beets, beet greens, bitter greens and granola sweetened with a honey vinaigrette. Steak tartare topped with a quail egg and sided with tuile scented with fennel seeds. Roasted bone barrow drizzled with olive oil, garnished with fresh thyme, and plated with garlic confit and grilled bread. Seared salmon and melted leeks, puddled in a peppercorn-horseradish beurre blanc. Moules marinière with tomato confit and grilled bread. Escargots, served with salsify, swipes of parsnip puree and grilled bread. Pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms and hazelnuts. Headcheese -- beef jowls and pork cheeks -- with shallots, garlic and fresh herbs. Chicken crepe pooled in sauce Mornay. Citrus-brined, herb-rubbed roasted chicken with potato pavé and chicken jus. Tomato confit. The lounge at Le Grand. Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar will open on Monday, August 29.