Back in their native France, Fernand's family owned a farm and Odette's owned a bar in the region of Brittany. When the two met, therefore, it was only a matter of time before they decided to open their own restaurant. But the Tersiguels went above and beyond: they created a chef! Today, their son Michel is the executive chef at their eponymous restaurant.
It was 1964 when, with Michel on the way, the couple first came to New York. Within three days of being hired at Top of the Fair, Fernand was promoted to lead bus boy. And within four years, the Tersiguels had founded their first restaurant, La Poularde. They later opened their second, Chez Fernand, though after nine years of success the restaurant was lost in a fire. Though the experience was upsetting, the couple used it as an opportunity to move downtown to the Old Baltimore Shot Tower.
In 1990 they opened Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant in the heart of Ellicott City, and the family has resurrected their multigenerational commitment to food—and their passion for the industry—by serving seasonal plates of classic French favorites. Escargots, frog legs, and bœuf à la Bourguignonne dance across the menu before house-made chocolate mousse delights palates. Odette's own family recipe is used to make the pâté de Campagne. So deep is the family's dedication to fine food that some customers even sign up just to shadow Michel for a day, following the chef from his 5 a.m. market trip to the kitchen as he prepares that evening's meals and invents his own type of fire to uses in the oven.
Each day at Fenton Cafe, Meaza Gabru swirls thin layers of batter on crepe makers in her open kitchen, creating delicate shells for sweet and savory fillings. She stuffs more than 40 different crepes with ingredients ranging from chocolaty nutella and fresh fruit to smoked turkey, cheese, and egg. In fact, her selection of crepes is so overwhelming that the The Voice recommended that locals visit weekly "until the entire menu has been devoured." Bold coffees and espresso drinks accompany Meaza's signature treats, which diners can savor on the outdoor patio or while sending a breakup text to their pancakes.
Le Vieux Logis translates directly from the French to "the old lodge." And when it changed hands in January 2014, co-owner Chef Gautrois brought back the old-world ambiance that people grew to love over the years, not just in the food but the decor as well.
From the outside, the eatery has the feel of a countryside cottage, with a terracotta roof and dark wood shutters. And on the white stucco is a handpainted mural of a mountainside meadow, with people perched at bistro tables. This look and feel carries through to the interior, where the banquettes are upholstered in rich tapestries and quaint knickknacks such as copper buckets and painted china adorn the walls.
The menu heralds a return to classic French cooking, lauded by the Washington Post as "a stroll down memory lane, to a time when white space was less of an aspiration in restaurant dishes." Here's a sampling of what to try when you visit:
When Sonny Abraham took a job at his father's restaurant, he assumed it would be a temporary arrangement until he received his pilot's license. But it was amid the hot suds of soapy dishes and the clatter of pots and pans that he fell in love with the restaurant industry and began dreaming of starting a fine-dining establishment of his own. In pursuit of his new dream, Sonny secured culinary positions at upscale hotels throughout Washington, DC, even traveling to Switzerland to work in a high-end kitchen. Ten years later, Sonny captains the kitchen of his own restaurant, Brasserie Monte Carlo.
Inside the restaurant, which was very recently REAL certified by the United States Healthful Food Council, Sonny whips up French Mediterranean dishes with housemade sauces and herbs from his own garden. The chef often delivers the still-sizzling dishes to the dining room himself, where diners await their meals over glasses of fine wine. A vivid mural sweeps across one wall, depicting typical scenes from Monte Carlo, from French sunbathers tanning on a beach to an ex-car-insurance salesman working on his first attempt at a romance novel, Even Car-Insurance Salesmen Fall in Love.
Blue 44 is the go-to spot for a moderately-priced, dependable meal in Washington’s Chevy Chase neighborhood. Already considered one of the area’s best restaurants despite its 2011 arrival date, the classic upscale American menu here is versatile without being huge. For appetizers, tackle a pierogi, claw through some lobster mac ‘n’ cheese or down duck confit eggrolls. For something light, there are several options for soup and salad, and sandwiches range from raved-about burgers to crab cakes to a Pittsburgh cheese steak, courtesy of the owner’s Western Pennsylvania heritage. The ample dining room is bathed in dark tones, with a textured tile ceiling and lots of tall, stiff-backed booths. Chandeliers light the main eating area dimly, while simple photographs and painted brick touches fill out the style. Sneak back to the small hooded bar for a drink; there are only a few seats, but the drinks are worth standing for.
"It’s not sleek or trendy, but La Ferme totally nails warm and charming," says Bethesda Magazine, which awarded the restaurant its 2013 Editors' Pick for Best Restaurant for Ambiance. Housed within a rustic, yet romantic farmhouse, La Ferme definitely appears to embrace the spirit of an inviting household instead of a stuffy fine-dining establishment. Tables fill two separate floors as well as a covered outdoor terrace, and soft pastel hues, floral drapes, and antique-looking sconces help give the impression of a cozy home in the French countryside. Similarly, the menu embraces a rustic style of cooking that emphasizes hearty, satisfying flavors over nouveau techniques. Seafood appears prominently throughout the menu, tempting diners with everything from house-smoked Norwegian salmon to fricasseed Maine lobster. However, the chefs don't neglect terrestrial countryside classics. Dishes such as French onion soup with melted emmenthal cheese or roast rabbit stuffed with wild mushrooms and herbs and sandwiched between two macrons round out the menu of classic French comfort foods. Even La Ferme's extensive wine menu manages to highlight the vineyards of France while still featuring bottles from as far away as California and New Zealand.