Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Chez Andree Francais Restaurant and Bar

With all of the fine restaurants were have here in Old Town Alexandria, we tend to loose sight of some of the quality eateries on the fringe. One such place is Chez Andree Francais Restaurant and Bar. Located at 10 East Glebe Road, the Lecureux family has been serving Alexandrians and other travelers for over 50 years. While we usually frequent the restaurant for lunch, we decided to try their famous brunch this past Sunday.

Every restaurant has a brunch but what makes this one special is that you can order off of their regular lunch menu if eggs and French toast are not your forte. As is usually the case for their brunch, the place was crowed around 12:45 when we got there.   You may want to make a reservation if you have a large crowd.

Even though it was a beautiful sunny spring day, we decided to pass on the patio and join an old friend at the bar, as we often do. Shortly after we sat down, two more friends joined us and it all made for a very fun brunch all the way round.

At Chez Andree you won’t see any Jagermeister shots being slammed back. This is a martini crowd from top to bottom. We normally embibe in a gimlet before our normal lunch but since it was brunch we decided on a couple rounds of their $3.50 mimosas and Bloody Marys. We took our time with our beverages while we got caught up with Ernie and perused the menu. The personnel want you to enjoy yourself and there is no sense that you are being “rushed” to order.

The brunch menu isn’t extensive as it only offers 7 items, but these items touch all of the bases. They offer Classic Eggs Benedict, Chesapeake Eggs Benedict with jumbo lump crabmeat, a Three-Egg Omelet with Fresh Mushrooms, Spinach and Swiss cheese, a Three-Egg Omelet with Ham and Swiss cheese, Smoked Salmon Platter, French toast with fresh Fruit and the same with either sausage or bacon. The prices range from $9.95 to $12.95. Keep in mind that the full lunch menu is also available during brunch so dining choices are many.

We started off with the Smoked Salmon Platter. Thick slices of fresh salmon with cream cheese and plenty of chopped red onion and capers and a soft toasted bagel. There was enough salmon to satisfy both of us. I thought that the bagel was a nice touch and paired with the cream cheese made for a different taste. The cream cheese also helped hold the capers and onion to the bagel as I laid a thick slice of salmon on top. Note: This platter is also available on the regular menu, however, it is served with toast and a dill crème fraiche instead of the bagel and cream cheese.

Next we ordered the Eggs Benedict and the French toast with Fresh Fruit and sausage. The Eggs Benedict were…well, Eggs Benedict. However, this is a brunch staple that my dining partner uses as a gauge everywhere where she “brunches”. It is a testament to the chef that he doesn’t take this routine egg dish for granted and serves up a great meal each time. Both eggs were hot and cooked just right with a thick hollandaise sauce. The potatoes were a little on the warm rather than hot side indicating that the potatoes were probably placed on the plate while the egg finished poaching but the flavors were good and savory. This dish is also served with fresh fruit.

The French toast was great. Three thick slices of traditional French bread – that was very fresh – dipped in egg wash and grilled to perfection. The sausage (this is one of my brunch gauges) was good, but I prefer mine a bit more flavorful with a little more “zip”. I don’t usually eat pancakes or French toast much, but when you have butter and a good maple syrup, you can’t go wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, the regular lunch menu is available as well for those of you who want something more than breakfast. The appetizers include a Country Pate and Plat du Charcutrie, as well as Escargots du Bourgone, steamed Mussels and Mussels Povencale. The French Onion soup is always good here…and a large portion. For some there might be too much cheese melted on top, but I love it. The broth is a beef broth with lots of onion. Some of the highlights of the entrees are Veal Sheri, Trout Almondine and Seafood Crepes. The steak and poultry consist of Chicken Florentine, Steak au Poivre, Filet Mignon aux Béarnaise and Rack of Lamb. Andree’s classics feature Chicken Livers, Country Sausage & Lentils, Sweetbreads and Calf’s Liver.

Chez Andree is also a great place for dinner. The dining rooms are decorated with period furniture with a country theme, which makes for a nice relaxing evening. The bar area has a large, classic wooden bar and back bar facing a spectacular mural that looks like a scene from Moulin Rouge.

Get out of your comfort zone and try some traditional French Country cooking. The atmosphere is wonderful and old world, while the food is a nice change of pace. Chez Andree prices are reasonable and they boast a very nice wine list as well. They have daily specials during the week that are all well worth checking out. This is what keeps you coming back for more! See their ad in this section for address, phone number and other pertinent information.

Written by: Bob Tagert

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