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Dining the Gallic Way is How Best to Celebrate Bastille Day

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menu moversBy Morris Gut

If you enjoy French cuisine as I do, Bastille Day, on Thursday, July 14, is a good excuse to indulge.

This French national holiday marks the public uprising that led to the French Revolution. Gallic restaurants, bakeries and cafes throughout the area will be serving up their finest culinary specialties, vintage wines and traditional festivities.

One of the largest French-inspired events in metro New York is the annual French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) celebration in Manhattan. This year it takes place on Sunday, July 10, from 12 to 5 p.m. on Madison Avenue from 59th to 63rd streets. It features arts and crafts and entertainment and you can bet on a lot of titillating food tastings. For more information, visit www.fiaf.org.

Closer to home, there are several spots to indulge in La Cuisine Francaise.

Jean-Jacques

After a run through the bustling Pleasantville Farmers Market on a recent Saturday morning, we headed over to nearby Jean-Jacques Culinary Creations. The display counters and blackboards were filled with tempting possibilities, including sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches, fresh bread and cakes. It’s been 21 years and the place is still working at full steam.

There are two dining rooms, one counter side and a separate more formal section. We opted for two French classics: Quiche Lorraine with salad, and the Croque Madame Croissant, oozing with fried egg, cheese and ham. Both flavorful!

There’s outdoor seating weather permitting.

Jean-Jacques is located at 468 Bedford Rd. in Pleasantville. Info: 914-747-8191 or visit www.jean-jacques.com.

Encore Bistro

For over 20 years, Encore Bistro in Larchmont is where proprietor David Masliah and his team offer such lusty favorites as the colorful and delicious Tartin de Tomates, Moules Provencales and my favorite, Salade parisienne, along with St. Jacques au beurre blanc and steak frites. (It’s hard to stay away from their rendition sweetbreads, too.) Great French fries here; they’re the real thing!

For dessert, there are classic versions of Tarte Tatin and profiteroles. There’s outdoor seating here as well.

Encore Bistro Francais is located at 22 Chatsworth Ave. in Larchmont. Info: 914-833-1661 or visit www.encore-bistro.com.

The Arch

Chef and proprietor George Seitz has maintained the old-world charm at The Arch for 40 years. His restaurant is one of the longstanding culinary destinations in the Hudson Valley. Be seated in the lovely stone hearth dining room and consider such French classics as the house-cured gravlax with all the trimmings, sizzling escargots and the crisp honey orange roasted duckling.

For dessert, try the classic Grand Marnier Souffle. There’s a fine dose of seasonal flourishes, too. Elegant but not stuffy.

The Arch is located at 1292 Route 22 in Brewster. Reservations suggested. Info: 845-279-5011 or visit www.archrestaurant.com.

La Cremaillere

La Cremaillere has brought country French dining back to the Westchester-Connecticut border hamlet of Banksville. The venerable restaurant, in a vintage 1750 house on Bedford-Banksville Road, has reopened and currently serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The executive chef is Thomas Burke, who had previously worked at Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish locations in Westchester and New York City, Le Bernardin, Manhattan and The French Laundry in Napa, Calif. Prix fixe menu options include two courses for $85, three-courses for $95 and four courses for $125.

A chef’s tasting menu is $200. Sunday brunch is three courses at $65 per person. Look for such specialties as Hudson Valley foie gras, Long Island duck breast “a l’orange” and strawberries and cream mille-feuille.

La Cremaillere is located at 46 Bedford-Banksville Rd. in Banksville. Info: 914-234-9647 or visit www.lacremny.com.

Le Perche

During a trip up the Hudson Valley, Le Perche Bakery & Bar, an eclectic French-themed bistro, turned out to be one of our favorites. We had an over-the-top lunch and were charmed by the country-style décor, vintage fireplace and long wooden bar lounge area with bakery display counter.

The oversized croissants were highly appealing, but our lunch palate took us elsewhere. For starters, we had a bowl of their fresh-made herbed gougeres (French cheese puffs). So tasty! A bowl of fresh mushroom soup was a delightful earthy taste of the season.

For our main, we shared a big Vietnamese-style Banh Mi stuffed with greens, dressing, ham and house pate. It screamed with flavor! A couple of Peekskill Brewery IPAs helped wash it all down. And for dessert, we tried the fresh-made Paris-Brest pastry filled with decadent cream.

Le Perche Bakery & Bar is located at 230 Warren St. in Hudson. Info: 1-518-822-1850 or visit www.leperchehudson.com.

The Burger du Roi, one of the signature dishes at Le Jardin du Roi in Chappaqua.

Le Jardin du Roi

Proprietors Joe Quartararo and Christian Larsen have been operating Le Jardin du Roi in the heart of Chappaqua for more than 20 years. It offers a chic bistro interior and cozy bar. There’s also a pleasant tented outdoor patio. Surrounding garden flowers are in full bloom.

A longstanding favorite here is their signature Burger du Roi, prepared medium with bacon, Swiss cheese and sunny side egg on top. To my memory, Le Jardin was one of the first to throw an egg on it before the culinary concept became so commonplace. The large platter came with French fries.

Also, look for their delightful French onion soup, escargots or Croque Monsieur/Madame. Breakfast is served all day.

Le Jardin Due Roi is located at 95 King St. in Chappaqua. Info: 914-238-1368 or visit www.lejardinchappaqua.com.

There’s more: Look for Pate Maison, steak au poivre, poulet frites and profiteroles for dessert at Saint George Bistro, located at 155 Southside Ave. in Hastings-on-Hudson. Info: 914-478-1671 or visit www.saintgeorgebistro.com.  

Le Provencal Bistro offers French Mediterranean dishes including a French picnic platter of cured meats, cheeses and accoutrements, beef bourguignon, special bouillabaisse or coq au vin. Le Provencal Bistro is located at 436 Mamaroneck Ave. in Mamaroneck. Info: 914-777-2324 or visit www.leprovencalbistro.com.  

There’s a French connection at The Gramercy, an American brasserie located at 345 Kear St. in Yorktown Heights. There’s Moules frites, shrimp Marseilles and a hearty cote de boeuf (tomahawk steak served with dauphine potatoes and bearnaise). Info: 914-302-7189 or visit www.the-gramercy.com.

Bon appetite!

Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at 914-235-6591 or gutreactions@optonline.net.

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