About four years ago, my husband and I were invited to join our friends, another married couple, for a dinner date at an upscale restaurant called, Chez Francois. Since this would be our first visit, my husband and I weren’t exactly sure what to expect from our dining experience, but our friends had given us the impression that we would be in for a five-star night.
Our friends boasted that Chez Francois was rated as one of the top fine dining restaurants in Ohio. They raved about the food, the scenery, and the top notch service. They even suggested that my husband and I go shopping for new outfits to meet the dress code! By the end of the discussion, my husband and I were convinced that our wallets would be much lighter after this night at Chez Francois.
So what was our Chez Francois experience like?
Our group of four, dressed to impress, pulled up to a lovely riverfront building in a quiet lakeside town. We were promptly greeted by a smiling young man wearing a formal uniform who held the door open for us. Upon entering, I noticed the richly colored drapery against softly toned brick walls and various pieces of beautiful artwork giving the interior the feel of a French village. The impressively white table cloths set with an array of silverware and a ring of perfectly sculpted napkins made the restaurant look clean and efficient. I was excited to see the menu.
We were lead to a gorgeous outdoor dining area that overlooked the Vermilion River. The view was exceptional. We enjoyed watching the passing sailboats and various bird and animal life living near the water while we looked at our menus. My husband and I were very pleased to be able to sit outdoors, enjoy the weather, and still experience the level of fine dining and menu choices that were offered indoors.
At first glance, the menu seemed a bit intimidating. Each item bares a complicated French title, but to the non French speaking patrons’ relief, there is a wonderful description accompanying in English. Everything sounded delicious but since this was a rare occasion and a new dining experience, I decided to select a meal that sounded most decadent to me.
The food was not what I expected.
My entrée’s fancy foreign name translated to duck topped with a cherry glaze. It was listed as a Pinot Noir Dinner served in four courses with, as one could guess, the pinot noir. The first sample of Chez Francois I tasted was a fabulous creamy asparagus soup served in a dainty cappuccino mug. Next, I received a small plate of puffy pastries stuffed with lobster and cheese. After the appetizer, my entrée arrived. The presentation was great but the flavor just wasn’t there. I was wowed by the soup, satisfied with the pastries, but sadly, I was disappointed by my main course. I expected a little more for a fifty dollar plate but the duck was dry and the glaze was lacking that special something. My husband and friends ordered pasta dishes and they did enjoy their meals.
To end the night, we were served a lovely bowl of flavorful vanilla bean ice cream. Following the ice cream, we sat and enjoyed the dusk view of the river for a little while longer. My husband and I paid our hefty bill of over one hundred dollars and bid Chez Francois goodbye.
Overall, the experience was a good one, but my husband and I don’t have any plans to return at this point. The atmosphere was great and the food was not terrible but for the price, I expect more. The food did not stand out to me as it has in the past with other fine dining experiences. Also, I rarely drink alcohol and Chez Francois is centered around their extensive and expensive wine list. Perhaps this restaurant is better suited to a taste other than mine.