Pardon Our French: French Cuisine Is Making a Comeback in Boston

french cuisine

Coq au vin from the Mandarin Oriental’s Bar Boulud, slated to open this month. Photograph by Michael Piazza.

With the trend toward casual dining, Boston has gained a slew of small-plates specialists and plenty of gastropubs slinging elevated comfort fare. Along the way, however, a certain classic cuisine became largely ignored. Quel dommage! This fall, French fare is making a comeback, without the white-tableclothed stuffiness one might expect.

Last month marked the debut of Fort Point’s Bastille Kitchen, a polished space offering brandade beignets, pork chops au poivre, and a luxe $58 bouillabaisse for two. Later this fall, chefs Susan Regis (formerly of UpStairs on the Square) and Rene Becker (Hi-Rise) will team up to open Shepard, a rustic, “French-ish” spot in the former home of Chez Henri.

One place going all in: Bar Boulud, brought to you by French superchef Daniel Boulud. Located in Asana’s former Mandarin Oriental space, the restaurant—complete with a charcuterie bar showcasing the work of Parisian charcutier Gilles Verot—will be run by Boulud lieutenant Aaron Chambers. While the foundation of the menu will remain classically French, Chambers says he’ll cater to Boston patrons with locally sourced products and a bevy of shellfish dishes. “Some of these new chefs, they are doing a lot of different things—there is no soul, no culture,” Chambers says. “I can make a menu that has a lot of traditional background, and a lot of soul. That’s kind of what French food is.”