French Restaurants in Foster City

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A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des M?tiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself?designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas?remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.

1036 B St
Hayward,
CA
US

Most people don't expect to identify their career path at the age of five. Jared Gallagher, Chez TJ's executive chef, is not most people. A second-generation chef, Jared started working in his father's kitchen at the age of five, and he knew he wanted to stay there. A sous chef at 19 and an executive chef by the age of 21, Chef Gallagher pursued a passion for French food by training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and London, an experience he parlayed into a stint in the kitchen of acclaimed chef Michele Bras. Jared was also raised to appreciate farming, fishing, and hunting, and Chez TJ—a Michelin Guide-rated establishment—reflects his early communion with nature. Each morning, Jared walks through the restaurant's 30'x50' edible garden, combing through beds of currant tomatoes, zucchini, leeks, arugula, and other fresh produce for ingredients to use on the custom, chef-prepared menu du jour. When possible, Chez TJ also relies on local farms and markets to supply their meat and other ingredients. Housed in an elegant Victorian home originally built in 1894, Chez TJ boasts four distinct, cozy dining rooms that can be closed off for more intimate occasions. Guests are also free to roam through the garden to enjoy the scenery or brush up on their pollination skills.

938 Villa St
Mountain View,
CA
US

Chef Laurent Guillaume, who has helped open hotels and restaurants in Paris, brings years of culinary expertise to Chouquet’s menu and adorns time-tested continental fare with surprising New World elements. Attentive servers emerge from the kitchen carrying escargot and niçoise salads, cruising past sleek stools at a bar accented by swirls of natural wood grain and designed by Dominique Maxime Genauzeau. On the patio, diners soak up the sun or choose least-favorite clouds for a sky writer to edit out. The dining room's sand-hued walls and burnt-orange accents resound with the sounds of glasses clinking together, bearing more than 70 wines from Europe, South America, and the Pacific Northwest and a rotating selection of draft beers from France and the United States.

2500 Washington St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Atelier Crenn: A User’s Guide

Michelin-Rated Restaurant | Seasonal French Cuisine | Locally Sourced Ingredients | Tasting Menus

When to Go: The signature tasting menu, which can include as many as 25 courses, is served Tuesday through Saturday. Of course, they also offer a shorter and less expensive 7–10 course tasting menu Tuesday through Thursday.

How to Navigate the Menu: Think of it as a poem rather than an outline of dishes and ingredients. For instance, a menu description such as “mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange” is rendered on the plate as sea urchin torchon with caviar and yuzu. Ask your server or a nearby English professor to help you translate.

The Gist: The seasonal French dishes here are as far reaching as they are inventive. Chefs combine locally sourced, seasonal produce with a dash of molecular gastronomy and a generous smattering of artful presentation.

Who’s Cooking: Versailles-native Dominique Crenn views the culinary arts as exactly that—an art. Her expressive flair has paid off—she won Iron Chef America, earned the title of Esquire’s “chef of the year” in 2008, and secured a place in history as Indonesia’s first-ever female executive chef.

Fun Facts:

  • Like many restaurants, Atelier Crenn makes some of its ingredients—such as butter and bread—in-house. But unlike many, Atelier Crenn also makes its own plates, which they use to create singular presentations for each dish.
  • Artistry runs through the Crenn family’s veins—Chef Crenn’s father created the paintings hanging in the dining room. This hereditary trait clearly surfaces in the chef’s dishes and poetic, off-beat menu.

Inside Tips:

  • Turn your phone off. Ateller Crenn asks that all patrons enjoy their meal and conversations unhindered by electronic devices. Don’t worry—Instagram will still be there when you leave.
  • If you have dietary restrictions, let your server know. Though there are no guarantees, the kitchen staff will do their best to accommodate you.

While You’re In the Neighborhood Before: Pick up a pair of vintage-inspired earrings to debut at dinner at Fawn(3108 Fillmore Street), a quaint women’s boutique. After: Cut a rug or two at Comet Club (3111 Fillmore Street) before commemorating the evening with pictures in their photo booth.

3127 Fillmore St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Garçon!: A User’s Guide

French Bistro Cuisine | Rotating Wine List | Locally Sourced Ingredients| Parisian Decor | Daily-Changing Prix Fixe Menu

Sample Menu

  • Appetizer: oysters with pink peppercorn mignonette
  • Entree: coq au vin
  • Dessert: beignets and an espresso-hazelnut milkshake
  • Drink: Wake up Call cocktail made with cucumber, lime, vodka, gin, and green chartreuse

The Ingredients: Executive Chef Arthur Wall hunts down the freshest in-season and local ingredients he can find, including oysters and cheeses. The everchanging selection of available items inspires Mr. Wall to constantly update his menu, as well as prepare a new prix fixe offering every day.

When to Go: On Tuesday, when the restaurant lets patrons bring in bottles of wine with no corkage fee.

Inside Tips

  • Ask your server about his or her favorite new wine; the globe-spanning list of bottles changes regularly
  • Don’t plan on stopping by to cure the beginning-of-the-workweek blues—it’s closed on Mondays.
  • If you’re planning a special event or 20-person ouija-board session, ask about reserving the private lounge.

Vibe: Paul Reidinger of the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote “Garçon! might be one of the most Parisian-looking restaurants in the city, with its vintage Dubonnet posters and individual lamps on each table.”

Vocab Lesson
Coq au vin: Traditional french dish of chicken cooked in red wine.

While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take in the aromas of more than 400 herbs, essential oils, and flower essences at The Scarlet Sage Herb Company (1173 Valencia St).

After: See some live theatre at The Marsh (1062 Valencia St).

If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Gaspar Brasserie (185 Sutter St), where you can dine on French cuisine beneath a crystal chandalier.

1101 Valencia St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Jardiniere: A User's Guide

Famous Chef | French-California Cuisine | Pre-Show Dinner | Dramatic Décor

Sample Menu

  • Starter: local halibut crudo with avocado
  • Entrée: king salmon with tomato vinaigrette
  • Dessert: bonne bouche, which comes with various chocolates and confections

Who’s Cooking: Chef-owner Traci Des Jardins. Her French-California cuisine has earned her multiple James Beard awards and even earned her a spot on season three of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.

The Vibe: Jardiniere occupies a landmark building in the Civic Center neighborhood, and features a warm two-story interior that rests beneath an inverted champagne glass dome with twinkling, bubble-like lights.

When to Go: Monday nights offer the best bang for your buck with themed prix fixe dinners that include wine pairings.

While You're Waiting: Sip on a cocktail in the J Lounge. Here, you can get a taste of the restaurant’s elegance and, if you’re very hungry, its food—the lounge menu includes dishes such as warm bread salad with artichokes and crescenza.

Inside Tips

  • You can pre-pay for your dinner on their website, though you cannot receive your meal through the printer—yet.
  • The menu changes nightly to reflect the season, so expect to order something different from one visit to the next.
  • It’s a dressy place, so ditch the jeans and hoodie. Keep in mind, many diners will be here before or after going to the opera, symphony, or ballet.

Vocab Lesson
Confit: a French term used to describe food that has been cooked in oil, syrup, or—in the case of some meat—its own fat, and then preserved.

If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Stop by one of chef Des Jardins’ other establishments, including Public House (24 Willie Mays Plaza, AT&T Park) and Mijita Cocina Mexicana, which has two prime locations.

300 Grove St
San Francisco,
CA
US