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BG Eats Out: La Bonne Franquette

by Adelaide Wallinger
The Gadsden GAB is a monthly publication that’s written by BG residents, for BG residents. Every two weeks, we’ll feature an article from the GAB on the Bishop Gadsden website. To read more, you can read the entire May edition here. There is nothing more comfortable than lunch or dinner in one of your favorite restaurants – and I have a new favorite -- LA BONNE FRANQUETTE at 652 St. Andrews Boulevard in West Ashley. I do love a French bistro and all the food it serves as well as a relaxed atmosphere with good service and a feeling of neighborhood bonhomie. And that’s exactly what owners Chef Christophe and Carly Paumé have achieved at LA BONNE FRANQUETTE. Some 16 years ago, the two met in Indiana working in an artisan chocolate shop. After they were married, they decided to come South. “We wanted coast and no snow,” says Carly. “We looked on the map and picked Charleston.” They began with the FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAFE at 90 Society Street downtown and then CHRISTOPHE’S MACARON ET CHOCOLAT at 1901 Ashley River Road in West Ashley. Chef Christophe, a native of France, is a third-generation chocolatier so the magic he weaves at each of his shops comes very naturally. It was always Carly’s dream to have a French bistro, too. When the West Ashley building came available, the couple walked through it and decided to make that dream come true. From Tuesday through Friday: It’s open for French breakfast delicacies and coffee at 8 am, for LUNCH from 11 am to 3 pm and for DINNER from 5 pm to 10 pm. Then check out the BRUNCH served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. Closed on Monday. Scott and Caroline took me there for my birthday dinner. The food is some of the very best I’ve had in Charleston over my 57-year culinary association here. My eyes immediately flew to the PETIT PLATS and I decided to have three to start: It’s my birthday! Right? I ordered the BAGUETTE ET BEURRE ($4) and shared it. Why is bread in a restaurant so much better than at home? Then came the best VICHYSSOISE SOUP ($12) I’ve ever had – featuring potato and leek velouté with truffle oil and croutons. Next came the PÂTÉ EN CROUTE ($14), a pastry-wrapped pâté served with mixed greens and a slightly piquant dressing. Then the SHRIMP OCCITANIE ($17), my main dish, sauteed shrimp with sundried tomato, niçoise olives, pesto and frisée with lemon vin. All delicious and, believe it or not, leaving room for my very favorite French dessert, PROFITEROLES ($12) served with handmade ice cream. Chef Remi Lorgoulloux, a friend of the Paumés in Indiana, came to Charleston from New York City especially to cook at this new restaurant, which is just why the ice cream tasted like the delicate snow cream we made in the South as children. Next time, I’ll have the OCEANE SALADE ($18) with arugula, cherry tomato, red onion, poached shrimp, smoked salmon, crab and lemon vin. And, since I adore mussels, I’ll order the MUSSELS ($24) with shallots, white wine and butter served with French fries. Or the CASSOULET ($42) with Toulouse sausage, duck confit, pork belly and bargais beans (large white French beans). Some time we also need to order the CHARCUTERIE & CHEESE featuring the Chef’s Choice with baguette, cornichons and olives. The small board is $19 and the large one is $36. Start with a cocktail followed by a bowl of soup and the board. I went back again: This time for lunch with BG’s Digital Storyteller for Charitable Giving and Communications, Antonio Stinson, to film my restaurant visit for BGLIFE. Lunch was just as special as dinner had been. The pressed metal ceiling, black and white tile floor, French chairs and well-stocked bar will remind you of time spent in French bistros. You can dine inside at tables or at the bar or outside on the umbrella-filled patio. The wine list (sparkling, rose, white and red) is extensive and served by the glass and by the bottle. There is also bottled beer, draft beer and cider. Before you leave, take a peak at the dessert display - you may want to take one home! LA BONNE FRANQUETTE is very popular – so make a reservation, calling 843-709-7962. There is good parking at the restaurant and you are allowed to park at the fishing store next door after business hours in the evening.