L’Auberge Chez Francois, A Throwback in Great Falls

“I haven’t been there in ages.” That was the near universal response from friends when I mentioned that we were going to L’Auberge Chez Francois for dinner. And this from my friends in Northern Virginia: “Aw, that’s our special occasion place.”

For the 20 years we’ve lived in the DC area I’ve always wanted to check out Chez Francois. I love French food. Okay, I love food, but French food is my favorite. Drawbacks to actually going to Chez Francois all these years:

  • cost – it’s not cheap, so it’s not a Tuesday night, I don’t feel like cooking type place
  • location – Great Falls means driving, which means one of us has to abstain from wine – well, that’s half the fun at a French restaurant
  • cuisine and time of year – all of our special occasion days fall in the summer. Who wants to eat heavy French food in the middle of summer, during a sweltering, humid evening?

So when friends heard we had never been, they organized an outing – and a car to take us. So how was it?

Disappointing. In some ways, how could it not be after a 20 year build up. The food was good, very good in fact … our lamb chops were delicious:

Lamb chops at Chez Francois

And my hazlenut souffle was out of this world. It was light, fluffy, rich, but not overwhelming, and just a wonderful, melt in your mouth warm taste of heaven:

best souffle ever - hazelnut heaven

… but the overall feel was a bit old fashioned for me. Old fashioned as in throwback or retro. So much so that it reminded me of my childhood – the one time a year our little family of four went to a nice restaurant to celebrate a birthday or good report card, or something like that. You know, tablecloths, lots of silverware, wearing a nice dress and patent leather shoes, sitting up straight, not making noise and generally behaving.

So, I’m happy we finally go to try the place out, but I don’t think it’ll be at the top of the list for another visit … unless someone in Northern Virginia is celebrating a special occasion out there, of course!

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