For six months, Isobel Drummond and her husband sojourned across France with their two teenage daughters, seeking out the country’s best cafés. The couple lingered over coffee and macarons in Paris, Bordeaux, St. Tropez, Marseille, and Nice. Now, at Simply French Cafe, they strive to capture the welcoming ambiance and gourmet foods they enjoyed in their favourite French eateries.
Simply French’s crystal chandeliers and Toulouse-Lautrec posters pop against dark wooden floors and exposed ceiling beams. Customers linger over paninis, tiramisu, and French-style pastries served on delicate pastel china. And in the evenings, a hands-on macaron-making class lets students create their own confections without the difficulty of growing meringues from seed.
The Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe serves up gourmet Gaulian fare in an impossibly chic environment for lunch and dinner (until midnight), as well as weekend brunch. Appetizing appetizers include the mussels with smoked paprika and bacon butter ($8) and the citrus-cured scallop carpaccio, with a truffled peach and radish salad ($12). Corner Suite offers miniature entrees (or monster appetizers), such as the house-made gnocchi, with the dressed-up breakfasty combination of poached egg, bacon, English peas, and mint ($15) to self-restraining supperers, while heartier plates offer the promise of a more full-bellied meal. Explore the crispy pork belly, served with lentils, apple and ginger salad, and drizzled in gribiche sauce ($25), or the pancetta-wrapped crispy ling cod, served with a green-bean salad ($25), for satisfying portions of sophisticated sustenance. If your hands become jealous of your silverware, opt for the graspable Station 7 burger, topped with thick-cut bacon and aged cheddar ($16).
With Chloe Bistrot, French-born chef and owner Laurent Gabriel has transformed an unassuming storefront in Laurelhurst into an elegant eatery seemingly plucked straight from Paris. Inside, cherry-red upholstery, dark chestnut walls, and polished tabletops puts guests into a Parisian state of mind even before they glimpse the menu of classic French fare. Diners can begin with escargot in garlic and parsley butter before moving onto steamed mussels in a tomato, garlic, and fresh thyme broth. An extensive wine list, meanwhile, pulls together varietals culled from across the French countryside, while authentic desserts like tarte tatin rival those found in any French bakery or left carelessly on any French windowsill.
Recently opened by the owners of the popular Hangar Cafe, The Ridgeback Cafe designs couture crepes, waffles, sandwiches, and more. Stroll into the 65th Street location and dig into the signature Ridgeback crepe, an envelope stuffed, like wedding invitations, with sausage, egg, onions, mushrooms, avocado, and cheddar ($9.50). Sucrose seekers can chomp on a coco-banana crepe, adorned with whipped cream, toasted coconut, and walnuts ($7). A savory waffle tellingly named "Are you kidding me?" brandishes two fried eggs and apple-smoked bacon ($7.50), while the Triple B waffle mixes apple-smoked bacon, brie, and basil for a meal more satisfying than discovering a brick of gold in a winter-coat pocket.