DENVER – One of the world’s most accomplished chefs will soon bring her expertise to Denver, in partnership with her sister, a talented chef in her own right. Senegalese French sisters Aminata and Rougui Dia will open Le French, a gourmet, casual-chic French bakery and bistro, in Denver’s bourgeoning Belleview Station this April.
Rougui, who has been called the 21st century’s “Black Pearl,” and the “African Queen of Parisian Cuisine,” rose to fame when she was named the executive chef at lauded Paris restaurant Petrossian in 2005 – the first black female in the world to hold this position at a restaurant that had been awarded a Michelin star. She later took the executive chef position at another celebrated restaurant, Paris Le Vraymonde in the five-star Buddhar-Bar Hotel in Paris; opened her own Paris-based bakery serving freshly baked babas; and accumulated accolades including the Trofemina Award and the French National Medal of Honor – the country’s highest national civilian honor. She recently relocated to Denver to fulfill a lifelong dream to open the restaurant with Aminata, a longtime Denver resident, accomplished chef and former owner of catering company AmiCuisine.
Located at 4901 S. Newport St., Le French specializes in high-end pastries and elevated modern Parisian cuisine with global influences, a nod to the sisters’ heritage. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and a daily “Afternoon Delight” from 2:30-5 p.m., featuring carted service of tea, coffee, cocktails and wines, accompanied by savory bites, freshly-based mini patisseries, charcuterie and cheeses and other small plates.
A grab-and-go case offers freshly made salads, sandwiches and pastries throughout the day, as well as coffee from award-winning Boulder-based Dragonfly Coffee Rosters. On the lunch menu, guests can expect to see classic French dishes such as sweet and savory crepes, quiches and tartes salées, sandwiches, salads and soups.
The dinner menu, which will change seasonally, features small plates such as Tartare De Daurade: Red Snapper tartare, served with house pesto, pickled radish, white truffle oil and house crispy puffed rice; and Croustillant De Lapin Au Foie Gras Et Champignons: Champignons prepared with beef feet and foie gras in crispy filo, with tamarind-orange gastric. Larger plates will include items such as Bar Et Artichaut Confit Sauce au Curcuma: Seared seabass with crispy bacon, served on a bed of confided artichoke with turmeric sauce and emulsion; and Saint- Jacques: Seared scallops, served in a coconut-orange curry with a cauliflower purée, and topped with trout roe, crispy dill and radish. Le French offers a tour of France through its wine list as well, with selections from the Loire Valley and Burgundy, to Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley.
In the evening, the lounge area transforms to a dessert bar experience, with after-dinner wines, classic French cocktails and elevated sweets such as Tarte Tatin: Caramelized apple with gluten-free almond cookie, French vanilla ice cream and sea salt caramel maison; and Baba Fondant Au Chocolat: Bundt cake soaked in chocolate sauce and rum, and topped with French vanilla whipped cream and poached pear.
“My sister and I have enjoyed working in the kitchen together since we were children in France,” said Aminata. “Le French is a culmination of our dream to open a restaurant together that not only celebrates our French heritage, but also our time in Senegal and around the world.”
The welcoming, modern space, designed by Studio Atlantis, is decorated with clean white tiles, natural brick, and wood and metallic gold accents. It features 77 indoor seats, and patio dining for 20; a grab-and-go case and a carry-out counter. The restaurant is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.