Last Friday evening, Matthew, my parents, and I headed out to Vermilion to have dinner at Chez Francois to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. Everything about Chez Francois is an experience, from the food to the ambiance to the location. The restaurant is set on the water and was decked out for Christmas.
Perhaps inspired by the Christmas-y decor, Mom and I started with eggnog martinis, made with Hartzler‘s eggnog, spiced rum, and nutmeg. Matthew went with a more traditional dirty martini.
The menu at Chez Francois has each item in French, with an English description following. It’s a good way to see how much of my high school and college French I remember (not much). Matthew chose to do the chef’s tasting menu featuring truffles, which started on Friday and is available through December 15. There is also a seven-course truffle dinner available.
The truffle dinner courses were scrambled eggs and truffles, sea scallop en croute with black truffle butter, char-grilled salmon with truffle butter sauce, roast tenderloin of veal with truffle risotto and truffle reduction sauce, and white truffle ice cream.
Matthew’s favorite was the sea scallop, which came served in its natural shell. My favorite of the nibbles I got was the veal. All in all, it was five courses of rich, earthy, amazing food and a completely unique dining experience.
For my meal, I started with the wild mushroom soup with duck confit, a special that evening. The soup was creamy and the duck added a nice smokiness, but I could have used a bit more pepper to add some kick.
For dessert, I had pecan pie with walnut ice cream. I am a huge fan of pecan pie, but it can sometimes be nothing but a sugar bomb. This was judiciously sweet and packed with pecans, not just gooey filling.
Chez Francois is truly a dining destination. It offers incredible food, a beautiful atmosphere, and spot-on service. It’s pricey, although completely in line with the quality of the meal, and it is a bit of a drive from Cleveland, so while it may not be on our regular-dining list, it will always be on our special-occasion list.
Where is your favorite special occasion dining destination?