French restaurants have proliferated in Denver over the past year, with Culinary Creative Group’s Morin taking over the former Wazee Supper Club space on 15th Street and Lon Symensma’s LeRoux opening on the 16th Street Mall, not to mention Mizuna alumni opening the pastry-riffic Bistro Georgette at Avanti Food & Beverage. But as of April 11, the Mile High City has a new option opened by actual French chefs that is, in fact, aptly named Le French.
French-Senegalese sisters Aminata and Rougui Dia opened their bakery-and-café-by-day/bistro-and-dessert-bar-by-night in Belleview Station. Aminata, who moved to the south Denver suburbs from France 15 years ago, has long wanted to open a bakery and bistro near her new home; foodie destination Belleview Station seemed like just the right spot. (Other restaurants include Sushi-Rama, Ruth’s Chris, Los Chingones, and Ambli.) Now, after years of dreaming, Rougui has moved from Paris to open Le French with Aminata.
What was Rougui doing in Paris? Oh, just becoming the first black female executive chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant (Le Petrossian 144) and later helming the kitchen of a five-star hotel (Buddha-Bar Hotel’s Le Vraymonde). All of that translates into Denverites being extremely lucky to have her cooking here. Even better, Rougui specializes in “baba au rhum,” or tiny sponge cakes injected with alcohol, which is as fine an addition to our culinary scene as we can imagine.
Le French’s breakfast menu is filled with staples such as crêpes, quiche, soft scrambled eggs, and croissants. There’s mostly salads (classics like niçoise and caesar, as well as iterations with roasted beets, arugula and spinach, pickled lentils, and pine nuts) and sandwiches (from a croque madame to a smoked turkey croissant with béchamel, spinach, and gruyère) for lunch, then the menu gets a bit fancy come dinnertime. Think: red snapper tartare, boeuf bourguignon, and duck breast with white wine cream sauce.
Never, ever skip dessert at Le French, not with Rougui’s talents on display through options like crème brulée, tarte tatin, and “île flottante” (floating islands of sweet poached egg white in a pool of creme anglaise, topped with fresh fruit and a caramel tuile). Can’t decide? Le French’s dessert bar menu makes small-bite versions of babas, brulées, meringues, and macarons for just $3-4 each.
4901 S. Newport St.