Little snacks and wine, bright vegetables, tender meat that’s been braising for hours, served around a cozy, rustic table… We can’t all enjoy the pleasures of sitting down to a multi-course family meal in France. That’s why Peter Woolsey, chef at Bistrot La Minette, offers French Family Dinners at his restaurant.
These private, off-menu dinners are inspired by Woolsey's visits to his in-laws in Burgundy, France. “They eat three courses at least, no matter what meal! Even if it just means simple salads served together before the entree,’ he told us. With just a few days advanced notice, guests numbering from four to twenty try a closely recreated, rustic-but-refined feast without having to travel any further than 6th and South.
The focus of the French Family Dinners is on sharing: the meal starts with the apéritifs, one of the most important parts of the French meal. Before dinner, the kitchen sends out snacks (sausages, gougères, and salmon rillettes, for example) and drinks are leisurely sipped. Next, three salads are offered for the group, true classics like shredded carrots with mustard and shallots, beet salad, and quiche Lorraine. An entree, a lovingly prepared protein such as broiled cod with beurre blanc and herbs, or bacon-wrapped pork loin stuffed with prunes, is then served to the table accompanied by a few simple vegetable sides.
The family dinners are split into three tiers: $45, $55 and $65 per person. The higher tiers include a potential soup course, more main course choices (think coq a vin and whole duck à l’Orange), and cheese and dessert courses to round the meal out. Up to 72 hours in advance, guests who choose the Family Dinners can work with Chef Woolsey and his kitchen to design a menu that is seasonal, varied, and geared toward the palates of the diners.
If the party includes lot of picky eaters or people with allergies, it might be best to order a la carte from the menu. But, if you’re a group of people who have similar tastes and enjoys eating together, this is a great option. There’s always a generous amount of food, and guests have been known to linger for many hours, savoring the meal and the company.
“Cooking this way is a lot of fun for me," Woolsey added. "When you’re a chef, sometimes you like doing haute cuisine, but from time to time I love making rustic food.”
The Family Dinners are offered seven days a week at Bistrot La Minette. Interested guests can call the restaurant or visit the website for sample menus and more information.