LAuberge Chez Francois is a small Alsatian restaurant tucked away on a tree lined street amongst the mansions of Great Falls, VA. Upon entering the parking lot, you're guided past the French chalet styled building by restaurant staff, which is quite helpful considering how tight the parking lot lanes are, although the spots are plentiful. We were seated immediately upon entering. While this may have been due to the fact that we had reservations for the night's first seating (at 6:00pm on a Saturday), it was still appreciated. This attentive service lasted throughout dinner. The were informative and available, while not being overbearing.
Our table was comfortably tucking into a corner, where we could enjoy the gardens outside the windows. As the night drew on and the sunlight faded, the staff considerately closed the shutters to block the headlights driving through the parking lot. The table setting, choice of lighting and wall decoration were all traditionally Alsatian and created a comfortable yet sophisticated ambiance.
The menu is a variety of French cuisine ranging from approximately $60 - 90 depending on the entree, with the majority falling in the $70s. All diners have a six course mean, The meal beginning with a small hors d'oeurve, in our case a piece of quiche. You then order your appetizer from the menu. The appetizers, like the entrees, offer a wide range of options, from a platter of local and European hams served with fresh fruit to frogs legs to the most delicious beef tenderloin on toast. Next, the house salad can be upgraded if desired, but in my opinion is not necessary. In fact, one in my party who ordered the tomato salad believes it was too garlicky.
A homemade sorbet cleansed the palate before enjoying the main course. My party, for example, had roasted rabbit and quail; sauteed soft-shell crabs stuffed with lump crab meat and your choice of three toppings; mixed grill featuring beef, veal, lamb and Maine lobster; and sea bass topped with roasted vegetables. All of the entrees were very well prepared and the portions were larger than expected.
Finally, the dessert menu offered a variety of options, but I would highly recommend you pre-order the souffle when you order the appetizer and entree. Because we notified that staff beforehand that we were celebrating a birthday, they presented the guest of honor with a plate of homemade meringue. Though I personally didn't review the wine list, my well-versed companion was impressed with it's lower priced offerings, beginning in the mid-$20s.
A jacket is recommended for men, and the equivalent for women. However, I don't think this is a requirement. Despite even a sign on the door reminding you that "proper attire is required, merci", there were several patrons in jeans.
All in all, LAuberge Chez Francois was a welcomed surprise. I was not expecting such a varied menu, nor was I expecting such a relaxed experience in a near-upscale atmosphere. I look forward to my return visit.
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