Jacques of All Trades

L'Auberge Chez Francois gets a casual spin

Deep in the woods of Great Falls, Jacques Haeringer converted part of his secluded L'Auberge Chez François into a lively Alsatian bistro.

The chef has transformed a room of the restaurant–which was started by and named for his late father–into Jacques' Brasserie, a place for him to serve more casual dishes.

The menu tackles French classics–some made using François' handwritten recipes–including hanger steak ($26) and onion soup ($9), but the true standouts are the regional Alsatian dishes.

Haeringer, who jokes that he always wanted to open a pizzeria, plays with three tartes on his new menu. The chef crisps the crusts to a cracker-like consistency, topping each tarte with crème fraîche and combinations like sautéed onions and bacon ($15), buttery wild mushrooms ($17) or smoked salmon ($15).

Save room for the large choucroute platter ($24), the ultimate winter dish, piled high with smoky bacon, sausages, and salt pork over tangy sauerkraut and soft potatoes.

End the meal with a baked Alaska ($12) or a soufflé ($12) of Grand Marnier, chocolate, raspberry or hazelnut. With French music wafting through the inn, it feels like a portal to France.

Jacques' Brasserie at L'Auberge Chez François, 332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls; 703-759-3800 or laubergechezfrancois.com