Greg Marchand has had quite a year. I remember meeting the young chef last May, when his restaurant Frenchie had just opened. He had a pile of bills, a new baby at home and not many customers in his seats. We assured him, after an inspired meal, that the place would be full in no time. He looked worried.
I returned last week for the first time since September and found the scene entirely changed. I was lucky to even be there, having been added to a friend’s existing reservation after failing several times to score my own. At the end of our meal, which was every bit as good as I remembered, I booked the first available table… in May.
So what had changed? During the months between these visits, Frenchie had been celebrated in hundreds of reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. Then in January, after being open for only nine months, Marchand was named by Le Fooding as Chef of the Year. That kicked off a period in which the chef was so put-upon (with requests for reservations, interviews, etc.) that he had to stop answering his phone. It’s a situation that Daniel Rose from Spring could well-understand.
It was fitting then that Rose and his co-chef Mary-Aude Mery were among the revelers last night at the Frenchie anniversary party. The gathering was small, unpretentious and generous – a lot like Frenchie itself. I felt in one moment as if we were celebrating Marchand’s success from within the calm eye of a hurricane.
For those who’d like to tangle with this storm, the best strategy is to call at 11am or to walk in and make a reservation. Plan on booking 4-6 weeks in advance. For those who are content to look from afar, I offer this selection of my favorite Frenchie plates from year one:
Truite fumée, asperges
(smoked trout with wild asparagus)
Salade tomates cerises
(salad of heirloom tomatoes, baby basil, white balsamic and cherries)
Betterave, chèvre frais, citron confit
(beets, fresh goat cheese, preserved lemon)
Truite de mer, salade de tomates anciennes en panzanella
(sea trout, panzanella bread salad with heirloom tomatoes)
Maquereau fumé, garniture escabèche
(house-smoked mackerel with escabeche)
Riz au lait de coco, fraises de bois, coriandre
(rice pudding with coconut milk, wild strawberries, cilantro)
> Read a collection of trusted reviews on Frenchie at Paris by Mouth