Deliciousness and bewitching charm at Chez Jacques in Walker’s Point
September 29, 2011
By Linda Fausel Photos by Sandy Dean
A feeling of elegance envelopes patrons in search of sustenance as they step across the threshold into Chez Jacques, Milwaukee’s distinguished French bistro on the city’s south side.
Pronounced “shay jocks” for the non-Francophiles among us, Chez Jacques translates to “at or in the home of Jacques.” That would be chef and owner Jacques Chaumet, who was born in France and opened Jacques French Café a few blocks away on Second Street in 2001 before moving to the larger, current Chez Jacques location on First Street in 2007.
Berets off to the sweet lace curtains hanging in the green plant-filled windows, and blue-striped awnings on the off-white, one-floor stucco structure, formerly the Forelle Fish Netting company in the heart of what once was Milwaukee’s southernmost industrial district. But the inside of this dining destination—arched doorways, stone-tiled floors, and tin ceilings—is what resolutely fascinates the senses.
Soft beige and apricot walls adorned with twinkling lights, ornately-framed paintings, weathered wrought iron, and old photographs complement the dark wooden tables and cleverly-lit bar, providing an aura of European ambiance that inspires appetites and imaginations.
Chez Jacques delights the eyes and equally tantalizes the palate with wonderful dishes and desserts that appear to come straight from a kitchen countertop in France. Whether it is breakfast, with freshly baked croissants, savory crepes, quiches, and omelets; or lunch, Bouché D´escargots (puffed pastry with French snails), Crab Cakes à l´ancienne (crab cakes with old-style, coarse-grained mustard), Fromage de chèvre à la Provençale (baked goat cheese with tomatoes, garlic, and basil) and Moules Marinières (steamed mussels in white wine, garlic, and shallots cream sauce); or dinner, (including the spectacular Onion Soup Gratinee), you will find something amazing here.
Rich, distinctive parsley-seasoned potato soup is served in a fat ceramic cup on a delicate paper doily. A duo of tender, lightly browned spinach crepes, blanketed in creamy Roquefort and sprinkled with parsley and toasted pine nuts, proves to be divine, but too much for someone who (witlessly) devoured piece after piece of scrumptious chunky-sliced bread and butter. Coffee and delectable Mousse au Chocolat bring the meal to an oh-so-delicious close.
Stroll to the back part of the restaurant to visit the outdoor wine garden and mural depicting the story of how Chez Jacques came to be. Walk past the regal, 20-plus-seat table in a room reminiscent of days gone by. The petite, yellow chickadee sitting in a swing in a small white bird cage hanging in one corner of the room is just one of the many personal touches you will find at the magical Chez Jacques. Price range: From $3 to $14 for breakfasts; $7 to $20 for lunches; $7.50 to $25 for dinners.
1022 S. First St.
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