The latest adventure from the Eat Well group sought to transform the much lacking “The Bird” into a casual eatery with an eclectic interior and simple, well-made French-inspired cuisine. And for the most part, they succeeded. Enter, Frenchy’s Naturel.
After a bit of an awkward wait in their cramped entry area with other patrons, once someone arrived we were promptly escorted upstairs to a colorful and lively space. Our server, who was as polite, friendly, and nice as they come, brought water, went over the wine list, and took some of our order. The wine list is surprisingly diverse, and ranges from $35 to north of $100, and has essentially something for everyone.
The start of the appetizers was the beef tartare. Clean, perfectly salted, with small sweet peppers that worked beautifully to add acid.
The surprise stand out were the mussels. Served out of their shells with stewed tomatoes, onions, olives, anchovy base over toast. We were pleasantly surprised to find this dish warm and comforting. No shells = less mess. The olives and anchovies could have easily overpowered the mussels with their strong flavors and salinity, but thankfully they did not at all. A creative spin on the typical white wine and garlic based mussels dishes at French restaurants all over DC.
Sadly while the mussel dish held perfect restraint with salt, the fried artichokes and lemons did not. A otherwise perfectly crispy fry fell victim to far too much salt that was compounded with naturally salty shaved parmesan on top. Any attempt to drown the salt in their “aioli” was rendered futile as it had the consistency of extremely thick mayonnaise. A thinning out and the addition of lemon juice would help the sauce, and a tempered salt approach will certainly have us returning for this snack. The fried lemons on the plate were perfect.
The house-made pate is a plate of perfection. Not gamey, not overly spiced, just perfect in texture and quality. The lightly dressed frisee salad packed a nice bitter contrast to the rich pate, but the star were the spiced grapes. Resembling mulling spices used for warm wine in the winter, these were so addictive we almost asked for more. When paired with the frisee and pate, you truly got a perfect bite.
Bread baskets vary more than opinions on what the boundary of Shaw really is, but the locally sourced bread from Lyon Bakery could have been supported by homemade, luxuriously whipped and salted butter. Instead, tiny gold foil wrapped rectangles of pre-made butter (not even French mind you) left us passing on bread all together.
If a French casual place offering bottomless fries can’t execute a steak frites dish, then all is lost. Fortunately, Frenchy’s Naturel exceeded our expectations. The steak, advertised as a “sirloin” on the menu was beefy, tender, and perfectly seasoned and cooked. A nice crust on the outside with large flaky sea salt and thyme gave way to a perfectly medium rare and tender inside. Gold stars all around.
The fries are not hand-cut to order, and they are frozen. According to a spokesperson,
It would be nearly impossible to keep the consistency and frequency of bottomless fries if the restaurant hand cut to order. There was certainly a debate before opening and after testing several potatoes, fresh and frozen, chef and team felt that the current fries being served were the best in terms of consistency and flavor. At Frenchy’s the fries are cooked in beef fat which works beautifully.
We agree. The fries are great. Thin and crispy, seasoned with salt and rosemary, reminded us of fancy fries from a golden arched food chain in the absolute best way possible. And what’s the best part about fries – why dipping them of course! Frenchy’s offers four different housemade sauces: Bearnaise / Horseradish Cream / Sauce Vert / House Steak Sauce. The Sauce Vert wasn’t our cup of tea, but the rest were delicious. The Bearnaise was perfectly executed and the House Steak Sauce was addictive and delicious – literally would spread that on anything!
And every entree comes with a seasonal salad that is perfectly lightly dressed and always changing. It’s a fantastic price point too!
Non-pretentious, simple, priced appropriately, and locally sourced and housemade when possible. Frenchy’s Naturel delivers fantastic service and delicious food and is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Bonus points for their rooftop patio as these warmer temps are coming our way.