Chicago restaurants serving French cuisine are plentiful, and range from simple bistro fare to high end contemporary dining. Here are some of the most popular French restaurants in Chicago.
1. Le Bouchon
Jean-Claude Poilevey's little wood-trimmed dining room sets the standard for competently prepared bistro classics at the kind of prices you'd be overjoyed to find in Paris. Garlicky snails in parsley butter, robust onion soup and salad Lyonnaise (with lardons, croutons and a poached egg) all are on hand, along with free-range chicken with potato galette, steak frites, fish and, sometimes, kidneys in mustard sauce. Regional French wines are as affordable as the food. The marquise au chocolat makes a fine dessert, as does almost anything with fruit. Well-meaning service sags at peak periods, when customers waiting for tables (even with reservations) crowd the pint-size bar in back and line up out the door. A tip: Dine very early or late and avoid Saturday nights.
- Address: 1958 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL
- Phone: 773-862-6600
2. La Sardine
Sister to Jean-Claude Poilevey's popular Le Bouchon (and named after a critic's description of that tiny Bucktown bistro), this is a more spacious and gracious destination, with an open, airy feel. Well-prepared versions of bistro standards include the delicate bouillabaisse in a lobster-saffron broth; ragout of super-tender rabbit, onions, and mashed potatoes; steak frites; sensational escargots bourguignon; onion soup; and salade Lyonnaise (greens, bacon lardons, croutons, and poached egg). The dessert menu boasts traditional soufflés, with your choice of Grand Marnier or chocolate. At lunch, choose from an abbreviated menu of appetizers and salads, soups, sandwiches, and entrees, or opt for a hearty plat du jour, perhaps tuna Niçoise on Monday, or duck legs braised in red wine with mushrooms and potato purée on Thursday. There's also a daily $22 three-course lunch featuring soup or salad and your choice of entree and dessert.
- Address: 111 N. Carpenter, Chicago, IL
- Phone: 312-421-2800
3. Les Nomades
From the restaurant website:
Chef Roland Liccioni was born in Saigon in the 1950s, Roland's Vietnamese mother and Corsican father fell in love during a time when many European ex-patriots lingered in Vietnam. They gave their son the French name of Roland, and settled in the southwest region of France in 1956. At 15 years old, Roland headed to culinary school for three years of training. After culinary school, Roland worked at the Brassirie Bofinger, owned by Eric de Rothschild in Paris. It was here that the culinary genius blossomed, mastering classical French cooking as though it was second nature for him. In the mid 1970s, Roland left for England, and found success with the Roux Brothers at the Waterside Inn, as he progressed from Chef de Parti to a Sous Chef position in merely three months time.
- Address: 222 E. Ontario Street, Chicago, IL
- Phone: 312-649-9010
From the restaurant website:
This, the pinnacle of Chef-Proprietor Jean Joho's restaurant collections, is recognized worldwide for its superb cuisine and unique wine collection. In this spectacular setting with the glittering city spread out 40 stories below, you will experience a caliber of personal service and a level of culinary excellence that define "world-class."
Drawing on an array of the finest foodstuffs from his native Alsace and around the world, much of it flown in especially for the restaurant, you are likely to marvel at creations you may never encounter again, but are certain to remember for a long time to come.
The world's toughest critics call Everest "spectacular in every way," the city's "most romantic restaurant," and the "best Chicago restaurant for business dining." Discover for yourself what Robert Parker calls "a brilliant meal from a great chef at the top of his game."
- Address: 440 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL
- Phone: 312-663-8920