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Le Francais under Liccioni, 2nd Tenure


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Roland is back in the kitchen. In fact, I called last Saturday afternoon to make a reservation and told the person that answered that I wanted to make sure Roland would be in the kitchen for lunch this coming tuesday. The caller informed that I was talking to Roland and that indeed he was back!

Lunch last Tuesday was very good. There is a prix fixe menu for $35 which consists of an appetizer/salad/soup choice , entre and dessert. January is the slow season so there was only one other table occupied with three businessman. The service was impeccable, food very good and we found a bottle of Bordeaux for $38. Unfortuneatly, Champagne is $16 by the glass, so the wine brought the tab up.

I personnaly want Le Francais under Roland to succeed and will be having dinner there in the not too distant future. It was very nice to see Roland back and talk with him. -Dick

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Oh! Thanks for the report, Dick. Much appreciated. To this day, the best restaurant meal I've ever had in my life was at Le Francais with Roland at the helm. Needless to say, this is very exciting news.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Phil Vettel's latest review at metromix.com awards Le Francais 4 Stars:

But dining at Le Francais is no mere amble down Memory Lane. There is plenty of contemporary thought on display, such as a cappuccino-style chestnut soup showered with black-truffle shavings. More impressive still is a cunning composition of osetra-caviar gelee surrounded by a lightly sweet cauliflower foam, served on a long tray that also includes a beet sorbet and foie-gras terrine with an East-West pickle pairing-Asian daikon radish with French cornichons.

The hits just keep coming. A scallop cake with the consistency of soft bread pudding, topped with a lobster medallion and surrounded by a lobster bisque jolted alive with Vietnamese spices. Warm foie gras with quince confit, receiving a hint of sweetness from maple foam. Pure indulgence in the form of ravioli filled with black-truffle mousse with foamed truffle sauce and yet another sliver of foie gras.

=R=

Le Francais

269 S. Milwaukee Avenue

Wheeling, IL

847-541-7470

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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The dining in section in Fridays Tribune has a nice little section on Le Francais higlighting Rolands return but also giving a nice review and history of the restaurant. Very intriguing, I need to get out there SOON!

Edited by chefgy (log)
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I went to LF for dinner on Saturday...fabulous! We were surprised at how large some of the dishes were. We each ordered an appetizer, soup, entree and dessert and couldn't finish our entrees (much to the delight of my friend's very spoiled canine gourmand). What did us in was the chestnut "cappuccino" soup with black truffle. We were expecting a demitasse (a la TRU or Les Nomades), but it was a huge bowl; and so incredibly good that we had to eat every drop...which pretty much filled us up (although our "dessert compartments" found room for the incredible hazelnut souffles).

Our entrees were plate-filling combos (a duo of veal and ribeye and a trio of quail, squab and vennison)--something of a steal at $35, considering what many lesser places are charging these days.

All of the food was utterly perfect. Only a few minor service problems kept it from being a flawless meal (given a knife with dessert instead of a spoon, a captain that seemed to vanish at the meal's end and busboys that repeatedly asked "Are you finished?" when plates/bowls were empty and utensils had been placed in the "we're finished" position). Minor nitpicking, perhaps, but perfect service is an attainable goal (TRU, for instance). It's great to have chef Liccioni back "home"! We'll be back often.

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  • 1 year later...

In 1996 I had, what was at the time, the best restaurant meal of my life at Le Francais. It was a meal of several firsts for me and in many ways, I've been chasing that experience ever since. Over the past decade I'd returned to Le Francais on a couple of occasions only to be let down or seriously underwhelmed. Last night, I once again dined at Le Francais -- my first time since Chef Liccioni's return -- and I am delighted to report that I had an exquisite meal which was not only evocative of my first experience there, but truly wonderful in its own right.

A course-by-course description would probably minimize the glory of our experience. The menu was filled with diverse array of tempting, seasonally-based offerings which made deciding difficult. How could one resist stuffed Zucchini blossoms picked from Chef's garden? I didn't even need to taste my sauteed Foie Gras to know its perfection. A simple tap upon its perfectly crispy exterior and I knew the delight that awaited. Each bite confirmed again and again what I already knew and the accoutrements -- braised peach and cherry, a small salad of micro arugula and an intoxicating reduction -- sent it over the top. The Lyonnaise Salad was a benchmark, the Corn Soup was sublime and the Charcuterie (terrine of duck, ‘pate de campagne’, ‘foie de vollaile aux truffes’, ‘rillete du porc’, and traditional garnish) was like an amusement park on a plate.

Entrees were also immaculate. Chef's Special Fish Duo was not only gorgeous on the plate but the slab of succulent Wild Salmon served along with a perfect piece of Halibut which had been "stuffed" with Foie Gras Mousse and wrapped in Napa Cabbage were totally delicious. The Sweetbreads were crispy, tender and totally wonderful. Aside from a duck leg bone -- the Duck dish consisted of grilled breast paired with a confit leg -- there was nothing left on any of our 4 entree plates.

Desserts were also over the top. Again, flavors managed to trump beautiful plating, which was no easy feat. The Chocolate Souffle with Almond Ice Cream was stellar. The Fig Tart with Lemon Ice Cream was magnificent. The Grand Marnier Souffle was so good, we were scraping the souffle pan with our spoons.

Service, provided by our Captain, Frederic, was, to put it bluntly, as good as it gets. I have rarely before experienced such enthusiastic, friendly and professional service. Had we been served re-packaged burgers from McDonalds, it still would have been a pleasure sitting at Frederic's table. His passion for -- and understanding of -- the chef's cuisine was apparent from moment one. His vast experience in the industry guided his every action and unprentious sensibility and great sense of humor contributed in no small way to our enjoyment of the evening.

Wine service, provided by our sommelier, Michael, was fantastic. Not only was the list phenomenal, but his guidance was terrific. The 2002 Baumard Quarts de Chaumes was an especially fantastic accompaniment for the Foie course and the 2001 Comte de Vogue Premier Cru was a perfect pairing with the 3 entrees we were trying to match. I also loved the taste of 1991 Grahams Vintage Port to which Michael and Frederic treated us.

All indications are that Le Francais has again taken its place at -- or near -- the top of the Chicago dining pantheon. With the foie gras ban (and talk of other dietary legislations) streaming out of Chicago's city hall, the suburbs have suddenly become a haven for culinary freedom. Prairie Grass Cafe (Northbrook), Miramar Bistro (Highland Park) and Vie (Western Springs) have already established the suburbs as a viable destination for serious cuisine. The recently published 2006-07 Zagat Chicago dining survey lists Carlos (in Highland Park) and LF as the top 2 restaurants for food. With the upcoming addition of Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand's places at the Westin in Wheeling on the near horizon, the outlook for dining in Chicago's suburbs has never been brighter. But no matter what the future of suburban dining holds, chef Roland and company have definitely restored Le Francais to all its former glory.

=R=

Le Francais

269 S Milwaukee Ave

Wheeling, IL 60090

(847) 541-7470

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Ronnie S.,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your meal. Le Francais was one of my top meals of 2005 with Chef Roland at the helm. The potato foam that I had still brings a smile to my face.

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Ronnie S.,

                Glad to hear that you enjoyed your meal. Le Francais was one of my top meals of 2005 with Chef Roland at the helm. The potato foam that I had still brings a smile to my face.

Molto E

Yeah, I agree that the potato-truffle puree was fantastic. I almost couldn't tell there were potatoes in it -- that's how "truffley" it was! :biggrin:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Just a digression, Ron--but do you really think of Miramar as a place for serious cuisine (as opposed to a fun evening with good but not great food)?

Yes, primarily because they turn out consistent, excellent versions of classic Bistro fare and their ingredients are top-notch. I've always considered it "serious" because unlike so many other places on the North Shore, the food isn't faux. It's the real deal. So, I definitely consider it serious food but not necessarily fine dining.

=R=

edit for clarity

Edited by ronnie_suburban (log)

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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