brunch, a la francaise
On a recent weekend, I was looking for a place that was a bit more upscale, but not too stuffy or needlessly pricey, ideally with outdoor seating (for soaking up every last bit of summer sun possible). So I grabbed a few friends and we hopped on our bikes, trekking to Walker’s Point for what was to be a lovely morning at Chez Jacques.
TCD’s highly elusive dining critics Mr. and Mrs. M visited a few months back and gave the small French bistro high marks, sealing the deal for us. We arrived shortly after 10 a.m. (opening time on weekends) and decided to dine outdoors. The host led us to a lovely fenced-in garden in the rear of the building, which at the time, was empty. The walls were brightly painted with murals of the French countryside, and we sat underneath the cascading branches of a tall shade tree.
We started with a few cups of hot, strong coffee and a round of mimosas at $7 each. Had I looked at the menu first, I would have ordered a Kir Royale — champagne topped with crème de cassis. But the mimosa was plenty refreshing.
Our server was extremely friendly and highly accommodating. He didn’t seem to mind that we were more interested in chatting than looking at our menus, and politely let us carry on until we were ready to order. Soon enough, though, the 5-mile bike ride and champagne kicked in, and we were salivating just looking at the breakfast offerings.
Specializing in French cuisine, Chez Jacques offers a variety of sweet and savory crepes, plus fresh-baked croissants and a variety of omelettes. I decided on the Spinach and Roquefort crepes ($7.95) with side of fruit ($3.95), while my friends ordered the Andouille Provencal and Spinach omelettes accompanied by roasted potatoes and toast at $9.50 each.
The presentation was so lovely that we almost didn’t want to dig in right away. But rich and savory dishes were calling us. My crepes were light and flavorful, filled with fresh leafy spinach and toasted pine nuts and resting in a creamy Roquefort sauce. The andouille omelette featured generous slices of spicy sausage and a sweet and tangy tomato sauce.
The fruit was amazingly fresh, with crispy apple slices, juicy chunks of pineapple and tart grapefruit. Single-serve portions of homemade orange marmalade perked up the slices of thick-cut wheat toast.
As our plates were cleared away, the patio was beginning to fill up, and we watched on (licking our lips) as decadent parfaits and quiches were brought to the tables around us. Next time…
After another round of mimosas and an hour or so of girl-talk, we got our check. For the three of us, between entrees, sides and drinks, the bill was about $70, and worth every penny. Brunch at Chez Jacques offers a charming an comfortable atmosphere, with excellent service and food that I’ll be dreaming about for many weekends to come.
1022 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee
Major credit cards accepted