We decided on a lunch outing one day and as we drove down Bashyakarlu road,my mother pointed out to a building and said “oh look,what a beautiful house”.I smiled and told her that we had reached our destination.The restaurant in question was located behind a charming old French door prettily framed with a profusion of white bougainvillea.The door which was an antique store find is in fact what the dining establishment is named after!
In the course of a couple of visits I have been able to taste and sample several dishes from the menu put together by Chef Shreeya Adka.The simplest way that I can think of complementing her food is to say that each time I ate there,the flavours,the presentation and the ambience have all made me want to go back and experience it all over again.
As soon as you walk in to The French door ,you are greeted warmly by members of the chef’s family and their staff and given a small tour of the eatery as well as a brief explanation on the restaurant’s food philosophy.Having studied at the Culinary Institute of America, Shreeya interned under Chef Thomas Keller at his 3 michelin star restaurant at New York called Per Se.Shreeya found herself drawn towards french cuisine in terms of first managing a bakery . Later as her training introduced her to the many facets of the food industry the interest of starting a restaurant seemed just as exciting. Before she knew it it was during a brief visit back home to Coimbatore when things actually began to gather momentum. Her parents are just as enthusiastic as her and have been a huge source of support on getting her started.
Along with her mother who is an interior designer together they have created a space which is full of whimsical visuals.The influences of a French village are apparent in the blue bicycle out front,the white lace curtains that adorn the broad glass windows, bird cages of different sizes suspended from the ceiling,ceramic jugs filled with pretty flowers, the miniature easels that bear your name, bow ties on the dining chairs,the choice of music ( sometimes it does tend to go towards other popular numbers 😉 ), the floral wall paper that just happened to match the staff uniforms and the linen sourced from Karur.Even the fabric coasters have a lace edging around them.The whole look is designed to add delight and it works.The walls too show character with quirky picture frames on one side and platters of blue and white china on the other that add allure as well as an old world charm.The attention to detail is mesmerising and keeps you occupied in the most enchanted manner as you wait for the food to arrive..
Though the tables are located on the first floor the plants in the barrels and the small balcony connect you with the outdoors and make you feel like you are seated at ground level.
In keeping with the setting, the menu card designed to match the French door opens to offer you a small variety of French food among other cuisines.Shreeya also has Indian and Italian food on her menu.She says it’s not easy to do vegetarian French food and wanted people of all food preferences to be able to eat at her restaurant. Pasta is something that most of us are familiar with and the pesto here is fresh and delicious.I haven’t tried any of her Indian dishes simply because I would rather eat the kind of food that isn’t usually available in town.
The one thing that all of her dishes had in common were the right balance of flavours and proper seasoning.While a small bottle of Tabasco is placed at every table thankfully no attempt has been made to add Indian spices to the European dishes.The sous-vide chicken accompanied by a creamy mashed potato is a fine example of a dish done well.Though the portion was substantial the manner in which it was cooked left the diner feeling satisfied but not unpleasantly stuffed.
There are enough vegetarian options like the Camembert cheese balls ,the fig and goat cheese salad,ricotta crepes and three cheese souffle’to name a few. When you take a bite of the salad on the cheese ball platter you will find that it’s not just for garnish but rather that the thin shavings of beetroot cut out like little flowers are pickled to ensure that their acidity cuts through the rich cheese. So this is one restaurant where the garnishes are specifically intended to serve a purpose…which is just how it’s meant to be !
The generous servings of arugula,sourced from both Pune and Ooty are crisp and complement the sweet quenelles of the fig mixture and the tiny chilled rosettes of salty goat cheese. And don’t get me started on the roasted walnuts coated with a fine dusting of sugar…heavenly ! I like that she has made the effort to pipe out the goat cheese rather than just crumble it as we would do at home. That to me shows that she not only cares but respects her customer.
The restaurant also showcases cheeses like grana padano which taste delicious on the stuffed mushroom.We also sampled the beef medallions,the chicken cordon bleu and the chicken and spinach quiche.They were cooked just right and appealed to all of our individual taste buds.
Though the chicken and spinach quiche is listed as a starter,do not be surprised if it looks too big. We portioned it into 4 and each mouthful was a happy one. not only did you get a generous helping of chicken and spinach ,the cheesy filling wasn’t at all eggy or heavy and was perfectly seasoned to compliment the light pastry that held it together. I must mention that the beef medallions were cooked to melt-in-the-mouth texture and that resulted in my dining companion licking her plate clean…not an easy task for a petite person but in her own words ,”I couldn’t stop eating it !” …says it all !
The lamb mince in the lamb bolognaise did have one tiny bone but we were quite willing to overlook that when the rest of the meal was so good.
The desserts at the French door are few but come highly recommended by my many friends who have tried them.The crème brulee arrived with it’s appetising crust of blow torched sugar which when tapped with a spoon gives way to reveal the creamy custard underneath speckled with vanilla bean.It comes served in what looks like a mini iron box with cold fumes emanating from the slits below.It’s apparently a metaphor for the singed caramel topping that this dish is known for!
A dome in tempered dark chocolate filled with a chocolate hazelnut mouse,wafer and chocolate cake is decadent and displays artistry on the plate with it’s garnish made up of molded white chocolate shaped like delicate feathers.
Shreeya is also of the mind set to start sourcing her food locally.She has started by growing her requirements in a small way at her father’s farm but feels that it’s a slow process. I think it’s smart of her to take things slow. It’s best to establish oneself , create an image with a select number of items and then once that’s set move on to the next. Her cafe’ on the ground floor has started churning out a variety of breads.
She did have her initial hiccups with delays in getting the food to the diner but all that’s sorted now and the service is firmly on track.
At 22 she has plenty of time within which she can unfold her vision.It’s wonderful that she has chosen Coimbatore to kick start her culinary journey and I for one ,as a fellow Coimbatorean am happy to support her dreams of becoming a famous chef !
A meal for 2 – Rs. 2200/- approx
Lunch or dinner reservations call -2548400 ,70944 54044