The long anticipated French restaurant, Raclettes,will officially open its doors to the public this Monday, March 21st. I had the pleasure of attending a soft-opening during lunch time yesterday at their location at 537 Main Street, across from the Buffalo Hyatt.
As we walked through the doors, my lunch mates and I were eagerly greeted by proud proprietor Sandra Wilkens who seated us at one of the wooden tables, hand-made by her husband and co-owner Paul Wilkens. This was a soft-opening so there were only a few occupied tables, but it was easy to imagine what the place will be like with a full house, with plenty of seating areas, a large bar also created by Paul, and an oversized café height table near the front of the restaurant.
The lunch menu features a variety of salads with house-made dressings, a selection of crepes, and baguette sandwiches served with a choice of a house salad (Salade Maison) or French fries (Pomme Frites). The French classic, French Onion Soup was on the menu as well, and is made with Gruyere cheese. We immediately placed an order of the Pomme Frites to share which were lightly seasoned and freshly made in-house. I ordered the Cambronne Salad ($14), an avocado and shrimp salad served over arugula, and my companions ordered Boulevard Raspail ($14), a crepe with prosciutto de Parma, broccoli, and Fontina and Fontinella cheeses; Charlemagne ($10), a baguette sandwich with turkey, Provolone cheese, house-made mayo de’ Provence, lettuce and sundried tomatoes; and Pont Neuf ($14), a baguette with smoked salmon, avocado cream cheese with a dash of Frank’s hot sauce, cracked pepper and dill.
While restaurant reviews are not my gig, I’ll leave a full review up to Caitlin after the official opening, I can tell you that everyone was more than satisfied with our meals. The portion size was perfect for lunch. My salad was fresh and not overly dressed with three large sized shrimp, and the house French Vinaigrette dressing was light and tangy. The crepes were described as perfectly thin and delicate with crisp edges and delicious cheese that was nicely melted. The baguettes exemplified Parisian “dejeuner” faire with a crispy roll and an appropriate amount of fillings, enough to be satisfying but not overwhelming. Available to go are a selection of salads and sandwiches at a walk-up sandwich bar.
The baguettes exemplified Parisian “dejeuner” faire.
The dinner menu sounds promising, boasting French favorites such as Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, Cassoulet, Tartines, Mussels, Fondue, and an assortment of those wonderful French cheeses. Which brings up the raclette. Raclette is actually a dish indigenous to parts of France and Switzerland dating as far back as 1291. It is based upon a process of slowly heating cheese on a grill, or raclette, and then scraping off the melted part. The melted cheese is then mixed with various vegetables, charcuterie and meats and casually eaten as a meal. Not surprisingly, Raclettes the restaurant will be serving raclettes, the dish, as a feature, with its own menu of options.
Beginning next week, Raclettes will be open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner until 10:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays they will be open for dinner only, however, beginning April 3rd Sunday brunch will be served as well, and during the summer they plan to offer breakfast during the workweek. The Wilkens recognize the need for a restaurant in the area to be open seven days a week.
While working on Raclettes the couple lived across the street at the Hyatt. Sandra says that during that time they found there was nowhere within walking distance to eat on a Sunday evening. With more and more people calling downtown home these days, businesses and restaurants are finding their way into the neighborhood and responding to the needs of newly planted residents. The Wilkens know those needs as well as anyone, as they are now residing above the restaurant in their refurbished apartment which I am told is simply fabulous.
Stop in to Raclettes and feed your European cravings. The atmosphere is casual and the space is warm and inviting. You can check out their complete menu selections and learn more about what they are all about on their website.
Executive Chef: Carnall Paulk | Experience: Coco, Left Bank, Beau Fleuve, Sweet 16