One of my favorite things about going to French restaurants is that I get to order with my mediocre French accent. It was one of the things I enjoyed the most about my trip to Paris. More, the fresh food, depth of flavors, and the commitment to the simple pleasure of the meal left me with a sense that I would sorely miss the French culture and cuisine upon my return to the States. There are lots of perceptions and expectations of French food and restaurants; since my personal taste is purely based on what I enjoy having in my mouth, I was very excited to try something new, and hopefully reminiscent of my trip to Paris, in downtown Denver.
The ambiance is both interesting and inviting. The pigs on the wall were painted and named by Audrey Smith. You’ll also find her behind the bar aptly suggesting the Jarret D’agneau Braisé, the Braised Lamb Shank, “It falls off the bone.” And it did, the minute I looked at it. It wasn’t actually on my plate, but the lovely woman sitting next to me at the bar seemed appreciative that she had little need for her knife. There are cozy booths, open tables, and ample space for intimate dinners and large groups.
The gorgeous bar lured me over. Not just because of its beautiful dark wood, but also because it was closest to the great French-geared tap selection and some of the best and most competitively priced wine I’ve seen in Denver. We started out with some lovely custom mixed drinks by James Lee, and the aptly named “Avionge-iation” and a Clavados cocktail.
I wanted to try everything on the menu, but we started with the Escargots and Tartare de Boeuf. I have to admit, I was an Escargots virgin before Le Grand, and it didn’t disappoint. The parsnip purree was a lovely blend with the texture of the Escargots. The Tartare is a must try as well; it has a surprising fresh sweetness that balances nicely with the fresh herbs. James Lee expertly paired this course with the Les Gardettes Rose.
Next up was the Beet Salad and Foie Gras Creme Brulee. The granola and roasted beets are wonderful blend with the beet and bitter greens in the salad. I will be requesting the Foie Gras Creme Brulee in lieu of a birthday cake this year.
After discussing the fantastic selection of taps at Le Grand, including the Duchesse de Bourgogne, I decided it was time for a beer cocktail. Audrey Smith delivered with her own homemade tonic, lemon, agave, hard cider, and Unibroue Beire Blanche blend. It was the perfect complement to the Saumon Sauté. I ordered this because of the pink peppercorn horseradish beurre blanc, expecting a bold spicy peppery flavor. I was very happily surprised by a subtle herbal sweetness that was an excellent match to the lightness of the salmon.
We polished off our meal with a glass of Chateau d’Oupia Les Hérétiques. This cuvee blend of Carignan and Syrah is the best $7 glass of wine I’ve ever had. The wine list is incredibly approachable. You don’t have to worry about ordering a sub-par wine, because there aren’t any on their menu. The motivated staff can help you select the style and flavor profile of your choice, or offer excellent pairing suggestions.
Le Grand brings the beauty of the French bistro to Denver, comfortably casual enough for a quick espresso or glass of wine and small plates with friends. It’s also an elegant setting that’s perfect for a special night out or a party with family and friends.
They’ve recently added a brunch menu so stop by soon, visit Audrey at the bar, or snuggle up with a special someone in a booth for an experience that will keep you coming back for more!