Bouillabaisse at Jacques’ Brasserie

You go to the nicer places to celebrate milestones, right? This was one of those opportunities.

Jacques’ Brasserie is located on the bottom floor of L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, Va., and while the food might be a little cheaper (and the atmosphere less formal), it’s just as delectable.

I started with a bowl of onion soup. How could I not?

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Probably the best bowl of onion soup you will find outside of D.C., but maybe even in this area, period. If you want to know how sweet onions can be when cooked down slowly, give this soup a try.

Next up, their charcuterie plate, complete with different kinds of homemade patés and rilletts (similar to patés), pickled vegetables, deli sausages and ham:

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Then onto the main course, the bouillabaisse:

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I could regurgitate at length the history of bouillabaisse for you, but I will just say that this preparation (as well as most preparations you will find on menus here) are not exactly traditional. But a typical palate from the United States would prefer this preparation, which includes salmon, shrimp, lobster claws, scallops and mussels.

What makes bouillabaisse different from other fish stews is that its flavor is heavy with herbs and spices. Its broth is so rich that it’s more meant to coat the seafood (and bread) than it’s meant to be sipped. You can do that if you want, though (and I certainly did).

The three together ran me just a few cents under $50. Yes, expensive. But, again, yes, special occasion! You don’t have to sample the whole menu like I did!

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