“We’re putting the Brassiere Rouge band back together,” Robert Thompson says. “John Broening is coming to Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar as executive chef, and, importantly, as culinary director of Seasoned Development’s [Thompson’s company] Colorado restaurant efforts.”
Thompson, who owns Le Grand, Punch Bowl Social, and the Argyll Gastro Pub concept, co-opened Brasserie Rouge with Leigh Jones in 2003. John Broening, now chef and co-owner of Spuntino and formerly the executive chef of Duo and the late-Olivéa, headed up the kitchen. Despite Broening’s exquisite French cooking, the restaurant closed about a year later. Thompson, however, has always had a soft spot for French food. In 2011, he opened Le Grand in the theater district.
Now, he’s bringing Broening back into the fold. "This is not a statement about where Le Grand is but where we're trying to be," Thompson says. “I don't believe I'm alone in having always wanted John Broening's experience, skill-set, and culinary creativity to have a larger stage from which to speak." Broening will oversee the culinary operations of Le Grand, Argyll (once it's reincarnated), and a handful of new concepts that are pending. (Sergio Romero will remain the culinary director of the national Punch Bowl Social enterprise.)
So what does this all mean? Le Grand’s menu will lighten up, even as it retains the bistro classics. “What French people eat is much lighter, fresher, more vegetal and a lot less fussy than the popular stereotype,” Broening says. Le Grand's offerings will also become more seasonal: In the summer, dishes will lean on the clean Mediterrean flavors of Provence, while in the winter they'll recall the more robust flavors of Burgundy, Perigord, and Alsace Lorraine.
As for Spuntino (which we named as one of the year’s best new restaurants), Broening will remain the restaurant's chef and co-owner with his wife Yasmin Lozada-Hissom. Chef de cuisine Nick Ames, who has been in the kitchen since the beginning and has worked in San Francisco under Daniel Patterson (Coi, Plum) and Michael Tusk (Quince), will be promoted to executive chef.
Beginning tomorrow, look for Broening at Le Grand where he is already reworking the menus. Those will roll out July 11 (dinner), July 16 (lunch), and July 19 (brunch). The timing is fitting as those dates surround Bastille Day on July 14.