Parlez-vous français? Although it might feel like you just stepped into a restaurant in France, there’s no need for an interpreter here. A quaint little spot in Walker’s Point, Chez Jacques feels like part of a European getaway. The French know how to make a meal feel fancy, that’s for sure, and Chez Jacques doesn’t miss the mark there. Dishes from all regions of France are represented in some form on their menu.
With many dishes that are very reasonably priced, you still get the feeling that you’re indulging in something extravagantly one-of-a-kind. Actually, you are. The owner (Jacques, if you haven’t figured it out already), sources his ingredients locally, from farmer’s markets in the summer to the butcher who supplies his meat. Not to mention that many of the recipes have been handed down through generations of Jacques’ family. I’m glad I got to experience my first dip into the world of French cuisine at this lovely little brasserie.
We had no idea where to begin, so we decided to try an appetizer that caught my eye. The Bouchée à la Reine, which our server effortlessly pronounced for us, was a puffed pastry filled with porcini mushrooms, veal and cream sauce. IT. WAS. EXQUISITE. The little cloud of a puff pastry was filled with the most tender veal and mushrooms and an amazing sauce that was similar to a gravy. I feel like I exclaimed how delicious it was at least five times. In fact, you know something is great if you finish it and then use your extra bread to sop up the cream sauce left on the plate.
Then came the entree. I finally put together what the French chef in The Little Mermaid is singing about while he chases Sebastian the Crab around his kitchen and yells, “Les Poissons!” It’s the seafood! And if the seafood is as delicious in France as it was at Chez Jacques, I understand what the fuss was all about. I ordered what was to me, yet another questionable word, the Bouillabaisse. This was traditional fish stew with mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp and fish in a tomato saffron broth. It was served with aioli toast. It was a beautiful dish, and tasted as good as it looked. It’s definitely a hands-on type of dinner! You’ll be picking your clams and mussels out of their shells, but I don’t mind putting in a little work for something so delectable! The broth was delightfully flavored as well, and I scooped up every last drop. I should also mention how much I enjoyed the aioli on the few pieces of bread that were provided – I only wish I could have had more!
Overall it was a great experience for my first leap into the world of French dining. I’m glad that I was able to do it at such a quintessentially French restaurant! I feel like I’m a few steps behind, as a lot of the items listed on the menu were very foreign to me. I’ll certainly have to go back to find out what else there is to love about Chez Jacques.
Chez Jacques Brasserie (1022 S 1st Street, Milwaukee, WI // 414.672.1040)