The Unknown Food Critic has four great French spots to celebrate the spirit of Bastille Day.
La Crepe Nanou
1410 Robert St., New Orleans, 504-899-2670
The long-running Uptown bistro La Crepe Nanou has earned a loyal following for dishes like Nutella crepes, big brothy bowls of mussels and frites and the salade Nicoise, though the setting can cast its own spell. Dark, colorful, bustling and animated, it’s a slice of Parisian nightlife in the middle of Uptown.
Chateau du Lac
2037 Metairie Rd, Metairie, 504-831-3773
If the bright, neat exterior and dining room decorated with wine art and French themes didn’t immediately reveal the Gallic character of this bistro, even a quick glance at the menu would. Chef Jacques Saleun is a native Frenchman and runs his restaurant in the a classic style updated here and there with culinary interests from farther afield. Endive salads, onion tarts, charcuterie, steak frites and duck confit tell the tale, and the wine list seals the deal. Look for a second Chateau du Lac to open soon in the Warehouse District.
333 Saint Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-378-2840
Chef John Besh's brasserie Lüke is often called a German restaurant, but in fact it draws much of its inspiration from a mix of French bistro standards, the traditions of France’s Alsace region and a steady dose of Louisiana influence. First courses go heavily toward charcuterie, like pates, rilletes, hogshead cheese and foie gras, and there’s also a raw bar with an attractive presentation of various seafood on ice ready to be converted into chilled platters. This is a lively, attractive restaurant of old school traditions that cross borders.
3127 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, 504-945-5635
Café Degas takes its name from a small piece of local history, namely the stint that French Impressionist Edgar Degas spent in the Crescent City back in the 19th century. After more than quarter century in business, this restaurant has its own history. It has established itself as one of the city’s leading French bistros with a solid regular menu, inventive specials and a setting like no other. It can be equal parts romantic and practical, upscale and comfortable.