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L'Auberge Chez Francois, The Haeringer Family's Romantic Alsatian Getaway in Great Falls

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My wife and I tried Jacques' Brasserie, the new addition to Chez Francois, the other day. You can reach it either through the main entrance to Chez Francois, or through its own entrance at the back of the building. The main difference between the Brasserie and the upstairs restaurant is that in the Brasserie you can order a la carte, and the menu is much shorter (even though it lists some of the same items).

The food is of the same quality. If you like the food in the main restaurant, you’ll like the food in the Brasserie. The atmosphere is more casual. Our service was excellent. By ordering only what you want to eat, you don’t come out as stuffed, and you save a bit of money. For example, our meal for the two of us, including desert, with one glass of wine each, and coffee, was about $120 (not including the tip).

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My wife and I tried Jacques' Brasserie, the new addition to Chez Francois, the other day. You can reach it either through the main entrance to Chez Francois, or through its own entrance at the back of the building. The main difference between the Brasserie and the upstairs restaurant is that in the Brasserie you can order a la carte, and the menu is much shorter (even though it lists some of the same items).

The food is of the same quality. If you like the food in the main restaurant, you’ll like the food in the Brasserie. The atmosphere is more casual. Our service was excellent. By ordering only what you want to eat, you don’t come out as stuffed, and you save a bit of money. For example, our meal for the two of us, including desert, with one glass of wine each, and coffee, was about $120 (not including the tip).

This is one of the most incredible settings anywhere for dinner after dark. Outdoors, on the patio with candles and dim lighting, this is a truly special setting. You cannot reserve for it; it is first come first serve.

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My last meal there was several years ago, and I really thought it was pretty good - the atmosphere and service, however, were <<hors classe>>. The last couple of meals I had before that were more like yours ... truth is, I'm not current on this restaurant (but am certain that they treat senor citizens well - I'm still not sure if this is a 50th or an 80th birthday).

I probably went there about three times every couple of years or so for the past 6 or 7 years. (It's just such a unique and elegant setting when the weather permits outdoor dining and a great place to take out of towners.) There was a steady and noticeable decline starting about 3-4 years ago or so. After the last visit I had pretty much given up on the place.

And yes, I realize this is probably going to get moved :mellow:

---

:unsure:

Edited by DonRocks

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!!!

Meh, it was a BB gun. He got ticked off and drove away from a potentially volatile situation which may be a heck of a lot better than the alternative. I don't discount the seriousness of this, but I can easily envision a scenario where this should quickly be forgiven and forgotten (in terms of this website, at least).

Just the other day, I said to a friend of mine (we were discussing some minor political scandal), "If any of us had a highlight reel of the top 10 worst things we've ever done, we'd all be societal outcasts, and most of us would be in jail."

I'll probably take some heat for this post, but my personal philosophy is that when someone is down, you give them a hand up.

(PS - Daniel's post was legit because this is already in the news, and perfectly valid material for discussion.)

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I thought about posting it in News and Media rather than here, but didn't think it was a big enough story to merit it's own thread.

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I thought about posting it in News and Media rather than here, but didn't think it was a big enough story to merit it's own thread.

[This could have gone either way - if/when discussion dies down, I'll probably move it there.]

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Just the other day, I said to a friend of mine (we were discussing some minor political scandal), "If any of us had a highlight reel of the top 10 worst things we've ever done, we'd all be societal outcasts, and most of us would be in jail."

I'll probably take some heat for this post, but my personal philosophy is that when someone is down, you give them a hand up.

(PS - Daniel's post was legit because this is already in the news, and perfectly valid material for discussion.)

Good for you Don, I would not want my skeletons out of the closet. In Virginia, if you look at alcohol, you're over the limit.

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Good for you Don, I would not want my skeletons out of the closet. In Virginia, if you look at alcohol, you're over the limit.

Um, I believe that VA has the same DUI limits as other states, does it not?

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Um, I believe that VA has the same DUI limits as other states, does it not?

you know, I don't know. I'll google it and get back.

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Um, I believe that VA has the same DUI limits as other states, does it not?

According to this website, all 50 states and the District of Columbia use .08% as the legal limit. They certainly used to differ from state to state.

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Sunday was a beautiful day for riding, so I took the GF out on the bike and surprised her with lunch . We arrived around 3 PM and sat outside under the trees on the patio. I had hoped the fairly new Bistro was open, but it opens at 4 pm and I look forward to trying it another time. We did the 3 course Prix fee, with 2 choices for me having an additional fee of $7.95 each ( escargot and Roquefort salad) in addition to the $45 Choucrute I had that had sauerkraut, corned beef, duck, sausage, bacon on it....quite good. Gf had the chicken, which was amazing and like butter. One thing I love is cottage cheese, and they serve you their homeade version with chives....awesomely good. There were 2 chef amuse bouche that were sent out...one was a mushroom tart and the other was sorbet before the main course. Dessert was a caramel creme and cheescake that we chose. All in all a great meal in a perfect setting. Our server was very good, but a bit of a douche initially with me having to ask 3 times for something and him speaking french to another server nearby in response to my persistence....but I gave him a wake up call when I also, replied in French to his comment and watched him go white for a second, realizing that I am fluent in that language and caught his lapse in judgment ;) He pretty much made sure there was no crumb within 1 mile of our table after that .

Whats really very cool is that the restaurant has been there 58 years!!!!!! Their opening menu is posted downstairs outside the restrooms...and lists escargots for $3.50 and beef bourguignon for $8.00.....I wish they would revert prices for a week :D All in all meal was $165 with wine and I loved every moment of it, as I was 16 the last time I went there. I plan to visit more often, especially in the fall and winter.

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Whats really very cool is that the restaurant has been there 58 years!!!!!! Their opening menu is posted downstairs outside the restrooms...and lists escargots for $3.50 and beef bourguignon for $8.00.....I wish they would revert prices for a week :D All in all meal was $165 with wine and I loved every moment of it, as I was 16 the last time I went there. I plan to visit more often, especially in the fall and winter.

Just to be precise, Chez Francois moved to its current location in 1976, 36 years ago. Before that it was located in downtown DC.

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I still think their prix fixe lunch is really the way to go, followed by some hiking at Great Falls. 4 course with a glass of wine for $35...or maybe $37...can't quite remember. Been there a few times in the past year and it's been excellent. Not a place to go if you like creativity/artistry...the menu is still pretty much the same as it was when I started going there 30 odd years ago...but I'm always happy when I leave.

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My husband took me here for our 6th anniversary. We'd never done a big multi-course 3 hour long fancy pants dining experience and I must say L'Auberge Chez Francois delivers that and then some. I actually thought the service was very attentive and great. I really enjoyed the food.

We had

Amouse-Bouche-Lentil Soup. with cream and sherry  It was probably the most amazing lentil soup I've ever had.  They also had the most perfect garlic toast fingers to accompany it.

Appetizers

Scallops with caviar and mushrooms

Duxelle Crepe with truffle sauce

Salad course

Salad with duck (only part of the meal I didn't like, at that point I should have gotten a plain salad)

Dinner

Alsatian feast - sauerkraut, sausages, pork, duck confit and foie gras (my first time eating foie gras. amazing) 

veal scaloppini with Virginia ham, jumbo lump crabmeat, and mushroom cream sauce, came with homemade spatezle 

Desert

Raspberry Souffle (never had that either! Wow!)

Vanilla creme brulee

Great experience. Not one I'm likely to repeat any time soon.

I also learned that 3 courses of red meat, including a wild game plate and the addition of duck on my salad, followed by a chocolate dessert and accompanied by red wine, doesn't make for the lightest supper and may negate the romantic intentions of the meal...

That's why you should always have sex first then eat.  Works for me.

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Sex before meals is somewhat crucial, especially before these multi course ones. I'm glad someone pointed that out.

This should be in the FAQ.

"Should I have sex before or after the meal?"

"You should have sex before the meal for sure, and after should occur, but is a multi factorial based decision.

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L'Auberge Chez Franí§ois simply isn't that good, and it's pretty far out. The total package is pleasant, but this would be a Michelin one-star restaurant if it had anything resembling excellent food, but it doesn't, and isn't.

This restaurant had become a laughingstock due to the annual Washingtonian "Best Of" Readers' Poll. It took many years, but eventually, everyone realized the emperor had no clothes, and they all stopped looking at the emperor.

Somewhat off-topic, but this recalls one of my all time favorite quotes on dr.com - something like "expensive, boring food served in an Alsatian time warp"... I won't attribute the quote, but if you hunt around I'm sure it's still out there.

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Sunday was a beautiful day for riding, so I took the GF out on the bike and surprised her with lunch . We arrived around 3 PM and sat outside under the trees on the patio. I had hoped the fairly new Bistro was open, but it opens at 4 pm and I look forward to trying it another time. We did the 3 course Prix fee, with 2 choices for me having an additional fee of $7.95 each ( escargot and Roquefort salad) in addition to the $45 Choucrute I had that had sauerkraut, corned beef, duck, sausage, bacon on it....quite good. Gf had the chicken, which was amazing and like butter. One thing I love is cottage cheese, and they serve you their homeade version with chives....awesomely good. There were 2 chef amuse bouche that were sent out...one was a mushroom tart and the other was sorbet before the main course. Dessert was a caramel creme and cheescake that we chose. All in all a great meal in a perfect setting. Our server was very good, but a bit of a douche initially with me having to ask 3 times for something and him speaking french to another server nearby in response to my persistence....but I gave him a wake up call when I also, replied in French to his comment and watched him go white for a second, realizing that I am fluent in that language and caught his lapse in judgment ;) He pretty much made sure there was no crumb within 1 mile of our table after that .

Whats really very cool is that the restaurant has been there 58 years!!!!!! Their opening menu is posted downstairs outside the restrooms...and lists escargots for $3.50 and beef bourguignon for $8.00.....I wish they would revert prices for a week :D All in all meal was $165 with wine and I loved every moment of it, as I was 16 the last time I went there. I plan to visit more often, especially in the fall and winter.

Respectfully to Don but this is how I remember L'auberge on our last visit about two years ago.  Some of what they do is, indeed excellent (i.e. pastry encrusted salmon, grand marnier souffle, several of the dishes mentioned above).  But the setting is romantic, personal and feels as if you really are in Alsace.  This was a treasure in the D. C. area for years with reservations among the most difficult to get.  My guess is that little has changed which includes the menu with the result that it is not pulling in a younger crowd.

This is a 1789, a Marcel's kind of place.  Until our last visit two years ago we've probably been going to L'auberge once a year for 30 years.  It has long been a truly special place.  It is also only ten minutes from the Beltway (exit is one mile from the Cabin John bridge) although it literally looks like another world.

We will go back.  It has been too long since we've been.  Unless a lot has changed in the past two years this is an experience that I look forward to revisiting.

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Respectfully to Don but this is how I remember L'auberge on our last visit about two years ago. 

I don't disagree with this. Some of their individual items (I'm remembering a "side salad" with pitted olive, what seemed like Wish-Bone dressing, shredded carrots, and pinkish-green tomato in the middle of the summer) are cafeteria quality, but the meal as a whole can be lovely with some legitimate highlights including some preparations <<en croí»te>>, and yes, those soufflés. I had downgraded this from Italic, but I think it deserves that category, so I'm going to go ahead and re-upgrade it based on the total package. Especially if you can get outside on the patio, it can be a magical experience (the less-expensive <<brasserie>> around back is not as special an atmosphere).

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I don't disagree with this. Some of their individual items (I'm remembering a "side salad" with pitted olive, what seemed like Wish-Bone dressing, shredded carrots, and pinkish-green tomato in the middle of the summer) are cafeteria quality, but the meal as a whole can be lovely with some legitimate highlights including some preparations <<en croí»te>>, and yes, those soufflés. I had downgraded this from Italic, but I think it deserves that category, so I'm going to go ahead and re-upgrade it based on the total package. Especially if you can get outside on the patio, it can be a magical experience (the less-expensive <<brasserie>> around back is not as special an atmosphere).

Patio really was a magical experience.  We've only been a couple of times for this but we should have returned more.

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This was an important weekend for me:  Thursday I met my best friend from high school and spent the day with him exploring Silver Spring where we grew up.  Saturday was our fifty year high school reunion (Montgomery Blair '64) and last night we met for a last night of wine and friendship before he flew back to Florida.  My wife and I, he and a female friend of forty years who lived in Chevy Chase had a decision to make:  where would be appropriate for dinner to celebrate a weekend like this.  Especially at 6:00 in the evening in Reston when almost every possibility focused on Town Center.

Dave's friend, Cindy, had a favorite that she and her husband (she's a widow) passionately revisited once a year but, with his passing, she hadn't been in a while.  L'auberge Chez Francois.  Dave had never been, my wife and I had a visit on their patio (noted above) but not an inside visit in four or five years.

I called not even sure if they were open on Sunday evening.  After a few rings the phone was answered warmly and I was told if we could get there by 7:30 we could be seated.  That was when their kitchen closed on Sunday.

A glass each later we were in our car and on our way.  For all the world, the drive through the Great Falls countryside to the Alsatian chalet looks and feels like one is on the far side of the Atlantic ocean.  Pulling into to their gravel parking lot it looked far more like Strasburg than it did Fairfax county.

Inside, for us, remarkably, every single seat we saw was full.  At least two thirds of the men had jackets and every woman I saw was dressed nicely.  No jeans, no shorts-there was a soft, but elegant ambience in a room that I had forgotten how beautifully, intimate and warmly caring, actually reassuring it was.

Nobody writes about L'auberge Chez Francois on here.  Nobody.  Rose's Luxury, Red Hen, Fiola Mare, several on 14th street but not the thirty five year old Alsatian icon that annually would win D. C.'s most popular restaurant award from Washingtonian.  My feeling is that nobody from Washingtonian would be caught dead there today.

L'auberge is not edgy in any way.  It is a celebratory family that warmly shares and acknowledges that you've arrived.

We loved it.  Absolutely loved it.

The food was all very good, some excellent (i.e. Grand Marnier souffle with cognac cream infusion, puff pastried wild mushrooms-anything from Alsace) but this was about the room and the professional, so softly assuring and caring warmth.  And, it was romantic and personal.

How could we have waited so long to go back?

L'auberge Chez Francois may not receive the press it once did but it is known and continues as an important and popular destination.  One third of the cars in the parking lot were from D. C., one third from MD and the last third from VA.  Seemingly egalitarian.  In back, the their second lot, there were four (Four!) black cars with their drivers waiting for their passengers to have dinners!  I was impressed.

For whatever is written about any other celebratory restaurant on here this should be on the list:  L'auberge Chez Francois is very much still on its game.

We have a reservation to return.  For ourselves, for a celebratory dinner to salute a fifty year high school class reunion we were extraordinarily fortunate.  And deeply appreciative.  Thank you, L'auberge.

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Everything that's been said about the patio is spot on. We went there in mid-to-late May and it's so beautiful. Just to take it a step further, the best seat in the house is one of the two gazebos on the patio.

Some of their food is great (soufflés), but I thought most of it was average.

The service we had would have been great, but for one gigantic mistake with a food allergy.

The person who said this is a 1789 or Marcel's kind of place, I'm not sure I agree (French cuisine aside). Like 1789, l'Auberge feels like you're stepping out of a time machine set to 1990. I don't see the similarities to Marcel's, though. I thought the food at Marcel's was much better and felt the service, atmosphere and presentation were very different.

This is a great setting to dine when it's nice outside, and their lunch prix fixe menu seems to be a good deal. I won't go back and get dinner again any time soon, though.

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This was an important weekend for me:  Thursday I met my best friend from high school and spent the day with him exploring Silver Spring where we grew up.  Saturday was our fifty year high school reunion (Montgomery Blair '64) and last night we met for a last night of wine and friendship before he flew back to Florida.  My wife and I, he and a female friend of forty years who lived in Chevy Chase had a decision to make:  where would be appropriate for dinner to celebrate a weekend like this.  Especially at 6:00 in the evening in Reston when almost every possibility focused on Town Center.

Dave's friend, Cindy, had a favorite that she and her husband (she's a widow) passionately revisited once a year but, with his passing, she hadn't been in a while.  L'auberge Chez Francois.  Dave had never been, my wife and I had a visit on their patio (noted above) but not an inside visit in four or five years.

I called not even sure if they were open on Sunday evening.  After a few rings the phone was answered warmly and I was told if we could get there by 7:30 we could be seated.  That was when their kitchen closed on Sunday.

A glass each later we were in our car and on our way.  For all the world, the drive through the Great Falls countryside to the Alsatian chalet looks and feels like one is on the far side of the Atlantic ocean.  Pulling into to their gravel parking lot it looked far more like Strasburg than it did Fairfax county.

Inside, for us, remarkably, every single seat we saw was full.  At least two thirds of the men had jackets and every woman I saw was dressed nicely.  No jeans, no shorts-there was a soft, but elegant ambience in a room that I had forgotten how beautifully, intimate and warmly caring, actually reassuring it was.

Nobody writes about L'auberge Chez Francois on here.  Nobody.  Rose's Luxury, Red Hen, Fiola Mare, several on 14th street but not the thirty five year old Alsatian icon that annually would win D. C.'s most popular restaurant award from Washingtonian.  My feeling is that nobody from Washingtonian would be caught dead there today.

L'auberge is not edgy in any way.  It is a celebratory family that warmly shares and acknowledges that you've arrived.

We loved it.  Absolutely loved it.

The food was all very good, some excellent (i.e. Grand Marnier souffle with cognac cream infusion, puff pastried wild mushrooms-anything from Alsace) but this was about the room and the professional, so softly assuring and caring warmth.  And, it was romantic and personal.

How could we have waited so long to go back?

L'auberge Chez Francois may not receive the press it once did but it is known and continues as an important and popular destination.  One third of the cars in the parking lot were from D. C., one third from MD and the last third from VA.  Seemingly egalitarian.  In back, the their second lot, there were four (Four!) black cars with their drivers waiting for their passengers to have dinners!  I was impressed.

For whatever is written about any other celebratory restaurant on here this should be on the list:  L'auberge Chez Francois is very much still on its game.

We have a reservation to return.  For ourselves, for a celebratory dinner to salute a fifty year high school class reunion we were extraordinarily fortunate.  And deeply appreciative.  Thank you, L'auberge.

Everything that's been said about the patio is spot on. We went there in mid-to-late May and it's so beautiful. Just to take it a step further, the best seat in the house is one of the two gazebos on the patio.

Some of their food is great (soufflés), but I thought most of it was average.

The service we had would have been great, but for one gigantic mistake with a food allergy.

The person who said this is a 1789 or Marcel's kind of place, I'm not sure I agree (French cuisine aside). Like 1789, l'Auberge feels like you're stepping out of a time machine set to 1990. I don't see the similarities to Marcel's, though. I thought the food at Marcel's was much better and felt the service, atmosphere and presentation were very different.

This is a great setting to dine when it's nice outside, and their lunch prix fixe menu seems to be a good deal. I won't go back and get dinner again any time soon, though.

Both reviews are current.  Comments about the setting are similar, somewhat different perspective on the meals.

I used to dine there fairly consistently over several years; maybe once a year, maybe more frequently, possibly every 2 years.  It was by far the most magnificent, romantic, pretty, and utterly special dining environment in the close in metro region. There were other nice places, special places, elegant dining places; but nothing approached l'auberge c'est francois.  Nothing else felt remotely as special.

I don't recall that the food was spectacular or not.  I do recall that every dining experience was extraordinarily special.  With the right person or people I'd return.

Thank you for the above current reviews.

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