Happy Bastille Day! It’s time to break out the cake, hang a few streamers…wait. WTF is Bastille Day? Americans are notorious for forgetting (and/or not knowing) about historic events outside of our jurisdiction, so don’t worry too much if you are a wee bit confused here. The solution? Visit your favorite French bistro in town and get in the spirit of things. You’ll be respected as a cultural attaché, believe me.
If any restaurant has the staying power to be successful in Dallas for decades, you know they’re worth their salt. This is especially true for a cafe serving foreign cuisine. But what can we say, we like what we like. L’Ancestral is perfectly unassuming yet elegant, a small venue located off the busy Knox/Henderson route that offers authentic culinary creations one should find in a French restaurant. Menu items are listed in the traditional way: pâté maison, steak au poivre à la crème, truite aux amandes (the waiters will translate when needed.) Save the best for last, however. Perfection comes with the floating island, a delicate combination of vanilla and cold custard baked in fluffy egg whites.
L’Ancestral, 4514 Travis Street, 214-528-1081
Hotel St. Germain’s Dining Room
A true French restaurant should be full of all the pomp and circumstance. In fact, if there isn’t at least one thing actually gilded in the interior then you can classify it as a faux cafe. Luckily, the dining room in the Hotel St. Germain is chock full of classic deco, heralding the age when dining was an event. Sip champagne from crystal and sample morsels from antique Limoge china. Tie and jacket are strickly required for les garcons, and the menu is a prix-fix. Visit them this Saturday, July 10th for the “Theatre of Poison,” a reference to the archaic custom of poisoning your competitors at elegant meals (taste wisely.)
2516 Maple Avenue, 214-871-2516, www.hotelstgermain.com
The French Room
The Adolphus, located in the heart of historic downtown, has one of the best French restaurants tucked away inside its walls. Although, the rigid definition may be lost here, as you can find American cuisine on the menu cooked in the traditional French way. Try the Hudson Valley Fois Gras with an almond crust and pineapple pudding over French toast, or the Black Angus Beef Tenderloin with an Onion Potato Tart and Basil Cabernet Sauce. French-American has never been so good.
The French Room, 1321 Commerce Street, 214-742-8200, www.hoteladolphus.com
Here’s another slight tangent from the ordinary: French-inspired Belgian cuisine at Toulouse. We’re still hooked, though. Restaurateur Alberto Lombardi is behind several popular Dallas concepts, like Taverna and Sangria, but this might be my favorite. The ingredients are consistently fresh and tantalizing, creating beautiful renditions of duck confit and steak tartare, with an extraordinary offering of mussels to boot, served up in a variety of ways that would satisfy any palate at the table.
Toulouse, 3314 Knox Street, 214-520-8999, www.toulousecafeandbar.com
Rise No. 1
Get a rise out of your meal here, with a perfect souffle, of course. Whether you’re in the mood for savory or sweet, Rise has you covered. The idea here is fresh and green, so once you grab your souffle from the real-deal French oven, know that everything from your plate to your glass du vin is made from recycled items. Looking for a souvenir? Many authentic products are for sale, from “guillotine” bread slicers to linen napkins.
Rise No. 1, 5360 W Lovers Ln, 214-366-9900, risesouffle.com