French Restaurants in Madison

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A Toute Heure: A User's Guide

New American | French Influences | Local Ingredients | Rotating Seasonal Menus | Monthly Brunch
Sample Menu
  • Starter: creamy roast-garlic soup with cherry-tomato pesto and basil oil
  • Small bite: beer-battered cod with red-and-yellow beet chips
  • Entree: grilled vintage Missouri steak with frites and garlic-saffron aioli
  • Dessert: toffee-apple cake with apple-cider ice cream
When to Go: If it's dinner you're after, then any day Tuesday through Saturday will do. Fans of brunch, however, should mark their calendars for the last Sunday of every month from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. That's the only time that the restaurant serves up its mega-popular à la carte brunch menu, which features favorites such as freshly squeezed juices and housemade french pastries.

While You're Waiting
  • Soak up the charming atmosphere. A reporter for the New York Times even raved that "[d]ays, even weeks after visits to A Toute Heure, I'm still smiling. I'm enamored of its small, sweet dining room…" This bright, airy space is located in a restored 1930s home with views overlooking Centennial Village.
  • A Toute Heure prides itself on being eco-friendly, so do your part by recycling the same dinner conversation from the night before.
Inside Tips
  • The cuisine is wine-friendly and the restaurant is BYOB, so pick up a bottle of chardonnay or syrah before dinner.
  • If you want to capture some of the restaurant's fresh, hyper-seasonal flavors at home, sign up for MarketBox, a farm-share program curated by A Toute Heure's chefs. Participants receive a box overflowing with the best fruits, vegetables, and artisanal products that local farmers have to offer.
  • Reservations are recommended, especially for Saturday dinner and brunch.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Purge all your pent-up tension and stress with a relaxing Swedish massage at Flic Spa (2 South Avenue W.).

After: If, by some chance, you saved room for dessert, treat yourself to a scoop of premium handmade ice cream at Vanilla Bean Creamery (22 North Avenue W.).

232 Centennial Ave
Cranford,
NJ
US

Epernay’s executive chef Jayson Grossberg trained under legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin before attending New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Grossberg has used his pabulum-preparing powers for good and not evil, recently redesigning Epernay’s menu to add flavorful new dishes, such as the summer gazpacho with crab meat and lime ($10.95). Fresh-caught mussels come in three broths, such as the “a la Linda” with saffron and tomato ($15.95 single serving, $19.95 shared platter). If you'd like to keep your meal as light at a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a juicy beet salad with summer melon, arugula, and feta cheese ($10.95). Reward your stomach for keeping quiet during last night’s visit to the opera with an entree such as caramelized sea scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and tomato ($26.95). Or delve into the crispy duck breast with wild mushrooms, pistachios, and asparagus soaking in a sundried blueberry jus ($26.95) to enjoy a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.

6 Park St
Montclair,
NJ
US

The chefs at Crepe N Grill serve both sweet and savory crepes, thin pancakes crowned with fresh ingredients such as honey-cinnamon apples or braised pork. Freshly blended fruit smoothies, lattes, and cappuccinos from the espresso bar pair up with crisp salads, soups, and paninis.

14 Turntable Jct
Flemington,
NJ
US

Red Hen Bistro's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.

525 Moonachie Ave
Wood Ridge,
NJ
US

Realizing the neighborhood was already buzzing with great restaurants and a nearby community theater, owner Jun Yoon knew the only way to improve on it was to add a memorable dessert destination to the equation. With his desire to be part of an enlivened community, he opened his café’s doors to serve frozen yogurt, cakes, truffles, and organic, fair-trade Counter Culture coffee. Within the 26-seat sweets shop, Jun doles out dollops of the Italian ice-cream treat called tartufo, as well as belgian waffles, crepes, salads, and sandwiches. He specifically designed the menu to make it an ideal spot for stopping in before the theater, after dinner, during lunch, or on the way to a castle storming. Jun also welcomes the community to his friendly confines for parties and private events.

78 South St
Morristown,
NJ
US

A veal chop cut extra thick and topped with fontina cheese. Salmon caught in the wild. Shrimp topped in pink champagne sauce on a bed of bow-tie pasta. At Il Piccolo Ristorante, gourmet meats and seafoods like these star in the culinary team’s classic Italian dishes. They prepare calamari Cajun-style or fry it and serve it with sweet or hot sauce, rather than ocean water, the original calamari sauce. Their vegetarian plates also delight tongues with Tuscan flavor, ranging from a ricotta-filled roasted eggplant to penne tossed in vodka sauce.

178 Eagle Rock Ave
Roseland,
NJ
US