By Catherine Rush Thompson
French cuisine is considered one of the world’s finest. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the French gastronomic meal to its “List of Intangible Cultural Heritages” in 2010, noting it “emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature. Important elements include the careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes; the purchase of good, preferably local products whose flavors go well together; the pairing of food with wine; the setting of a beautiful table; and specific actions during consumption, such as smelling and tasting items at the table.” Many are familiar with favorites dishes including crêpes, quiche Lorraine, salade niçoise, soupe à l’oignon, coq au vin, cassoulet, beef bourguignon, souffle, and ratatouille served with breads, wines, and cheeses from various regions of France and they value the French dining experience.
Kansas City has a remarkable array of restaurants providing the French eating experience. While every restaurant does not offer all the favorites, you can have your French appetite satisfied by many local options. Aixois French Bistro, a favorite, is an excellent choice to try for lunch or dinner during Restaurant Week, Kansas City’s premier dining event, running from January 10-19.
Located in the Crestwood Shops near the Trolley Trail, this charming restaurant features authentic French dishes. Emmanuel Langalde, a native of Aix-en-Provence, and his wife, Megan, opened Aixois in 2001. Chef Emmanuel delivers authentic and classic French cuisine “inspired by the techniques and recipes of his native France, offering a distinct menu focused on fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients.”
Current menus feature traditional quiche Lorraine, omellettes, and croissants, but also has one of my favorites, Croque Monsieur, a grilled ham, gruyere and bechamel sandwich. For lunch you can enjoy traditional hors d'oeuvres, including soupe à l'oignon, imported French cheeses, terrine maison (house-made pâté), and escargot à la Bourguigonne (burgundy snails, mushrooms in a garlic herb butter). Main dishes include moules marinières (mussels in a shallot and herb wine broth), oysters and delicious sandwiches that can be accompanied by pomme frites and flavorful salads. Dinner includes many of the lunch offerings plus cuisses de grenouille à la provençale (frogs legs sautéed with garlic herb butter), duck leg confit, more moules dishes, red ruby trout, salmon, foie de veau (veal liver), and onglet de boeuf au poivre (angus steak with a green peppercorn sauce), a favorite of food critics.
Aixois French Bistro also offers a coffee bar, Happy Hour, brunches on Saturday and Sunday, and classic desserts, including créme caramel, créme brûlée, profiteroles and chocolate mousse. Beverages range from Champagne cocktails and beer to a wide selection of French wines. Chef Emmanuel brings the taste of Kansas City into his classic French cuisine by working with area farmers, butchers, and bakers. If your mouth is watering, I suggest you try Aixois French Bistro during Restaurant Week. Aixois’ special 3-course menu January 10-19 is listed at: https://www.kcrestaurantweek.com/aixois-french-bistro#lunch.