Calling all Francophiles: In honor of Bastille Day, we caught up with Chicago’s elite chefs and restaurateurs to find out what they crave when they’re in a French state of mind. Read on for some major foodie inspo.
“My absolute favorite French dish is pissaladière. It's France's answer to pizza and originated in Nice, which is located in the southern part of France near Provence. The crust is made with olive oil, so it's slightly flaky and is topped with copious amounts of sweet caramelized onions, salty Nicoise olives, anchovies, and thyme. I used to make it for dinner parties all the time and my guests would absolutely rave. Add a glass of dry rosé and you're in heaven!” The Boarding House, 720 N. Wells St., 312-280-0720; Seven Lions, 130 S. Michigan Ave., 312-880-0130
"One of my favorite French dishes is the quintessential coal-roasted poulet roti (roast chicken)—which I think is the best way to test a chef or restaurant's mettle—at L'Ami Louis in Paris. Back in the States, we use the same Brune Landaise breed of bird from Green Circle Farm to recreate a very special dish at RPM Steak that is the most similar to what I had in France." 66 W. Kinzie St., 312-284-4990
"If I want French food, I'm going to one of two restaurants: In Chicago, I'm going to my favorite restaurant in the city, Le Bouchon. Whenever I’m there, I feel like I'm eating Sunday dinner in Paris. When in New York, I like to go to Buvette, located in The Village. Their crepes are delicious." 1747 N. Damen Ave., 773-489-1747
“Tartiflette. It's a luxurious potato dish from the French Alps made with melted cheese (usually reblochon), lardons, and onions. It’s a great comfort food and super easy to make. I like adding sausage and a bit of cream to make it extra healthy.” 330 N. Wabash Ave., 312-923-7705
“Butter—yes, butter—from Normandy. The flavor is totally unlike American butter—sweet, deep, and tangy—and makes everything it goes into better, (like) croissants, caramels, and pastries, and is also astonishingly delicious just smeared on a piece of fresh bread.” 1729 N. Halsted St., 312-337-6070
“One of my favorite French foods is native to the south of France. Socca is a chickpea crepe make with chickpea flour, water, and amazing Provençal olive oil. Traditionally a street food, I really enjoy it as a garnish or vehicle for quickly cooked or raw summer vegetables served alongside the same olive oil.” 2152 N. Damen Ave., 773-862-5555
“Without hesitation I'd dine at Le Bouchon on a Monday. Here's the line-up: soupe a' l'oignon gratinee and cote de boeuf, medium-rare, au poivre with brandy mustard cream, sliced and served on top of their frites. Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream for dessert.” La Sirena Clandestina, 954 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-5300; El Che Bar, 845 W. Washington Blvd.
“My favorite French dish is a perfectly made cassoulet. The combination of slow-braised beans, duck confit, and pork under a perfect persillade crust is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time.” 2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-276-7110
“One of my favorite French dishes was from Marc Meneau at the now-shuttered L'esperance in Burgundy: the veau au caramel was a veal tenderloin lightly seared in butter, salt, and pepper served with a caramelized endive tart with puff pastry and paired with an incredibly-difficult-to-recreate sauce made of nothing but burnt caramel, aged sherry vinegar, veal jus, and whipped cream. It all has to do with the darkness of the caramel, black and bitter, but not as the French would say burnt-burnt.” 925 W. Randolph St., 312-690-7295
“Seafood choucroute, a classic dish in Paris usually made with salmon, prawns, mussels, and sauerkraut all cooked together with pink peppercorns and lemon zest. Absolutely delicious.” 151 W. Adams St., 312-660-8200