Along with the traditionally French selections he’ll be introducing Washingtonians to on Wednesday, March 29 when Le DeSales officially debuts, chef and co-founder Raphael Francois has mixed in a few tributes to guiding influences in his life.
“The pate … that’s like my dad,” Francois told Eater about a featured appetizer he said his father used to prepare with Montravel wine; Francois prefers using smoked bourbon. “I try to twist it to not be too classic.”
Another offering that takes him back is quail stewed in Brewer’s Art Resurrection Abbey Brown Ale (one of the local beers on the bar menu) along with dried plums reconstituted by a soak in, yup, more bourbon. He completes the arrangement with shallots, barley and mustard leaves. “I can still see my grandfather eating them with his fingers,” Francois said of the nostalgia-inducing dish.
The opening menu remains a work in progress (see attached). Francois said he has already replaced the red snapper listed in a crudo item with Almaco jack fish. (The coconut and jalapeno are sticking around as accompaniments.)
His take on foie gras — “It’s not a parfait. It’s not a mousse. It’s the foie itself,” Francois stressed — is freshened with mango. A lobster-based entree unites roasted shellfish with white wine sauce, tomato coulis, comte cheese, and thick-cut fries. Elsewhere, chicken breast is paired with caramelized cauliflower that’s pureed and then covered with shaved yellow-, green- and white cauliflower, as well as pomegranates.
A house burger, currently slated to live on the bar menu, features 8 ounces of beef stacked with smoked French prosciutto (Francois said he is working on finding a comparable local product), a choice of cheese (American cheddar or Roquefort), and smoked coleslaw. An arugula salad topped with grated Parmesan currently rides shotgun.
“We’re not going to say ‘no’ to any customer,” Francois said of the likelihood of the burger finding its way into the main dining room, if so requested.
Status: Scheduled to open for dinner at 5 p.m. Lunch and brunch are expected to follow in the coming weeks. 1725 DeSales Street NW; website.