“It’s not all gloom and doom,” Jacques Haeringer says. He’s talking about the six weeks he’ll be taking off from cooking for guests at his Great Falls restaurant, L’Auberge Chez François. The restaurant will serve its final meal of the season on January 17 and its first of the spring on March 10. But Haeringer says he expects to be just as busy at the restaurant as he is when it’s open.
That includes painting, staining and fixing up the terrace. The lush garden that fills plates at the restaurant must be planned and organized. He’ll do overall maintenance to the property, but also start planning new dishes that will be on the menu when he reopens in March. This is reason enough for the closure, but he also blames roadblocks connected to the pandemic. “Anyone who doesn’t think there’s going to be new restrictions isn’t thinking straight,” he says. “If we can’t be L’Auberge and provide what people always wanted, then let’s not do it.”
Before the break, the restaurant, number three on our list of the very best in NoVA, will do a pop-up wine tasting dinner. The special Jan. 14 tasting experience will include Rhône wines from the restaurant’s cellars served as part of a guided tasting. Dinner will follow, with dishes like local rockfish in Cognac shrimp bisque sauce and rack of lamb, paired with two more Rhône wines.
Haeringer is going out with a bang, and will surely return with one, too. In fact, he says, “If things change it’s possible we could come back a bit sooner.” But whether it’s March 10 or a little before, expect more dishes than were served this summer on the scaled-down menu, including greatest hits regulars have been requesting. “There’s always a silver lining,” says Haeringer. // 332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls
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