S I M P LY D E LICIOUS
R E V IE W
Above: The roasted lamb sandwich on aioli brushed olive bread comes well seasoned and incredibly tender. Below: Soul-satisfying bean soup with wisps of truffle-scented steam from the pretty footed tureen.
Mussels are piled high and served with a flavorful broth for dipping crusty bread.
BRASSERIE STYLE F
&B charms, even tucked away on the ground floor of the glitzy Ritz Carlton Residences. It’s the kind of place you can return to when you crave the unfettered taste of home. That is, if home is the South of France. The third iteration of much-loved Brasserie le Coze that closed in 2006, F&B succeeds FAB, the large downtown version that shuttered its doors in 2011. Menu favorites from both predecessors endure, and the owner, Fabrice Vergez, still serves as ambassador and host, circling the room during service. Head chef Gabriel Capo adds personal touches to the French/Mediterranean cuisine, but with restraint and balance— sauces aren’t too rich, greens are delicately dressed and spices are kept in check. It’s immediately apparent that what lies in store at F&B is 100 percent French bistro. Next to the hostess stand is a full-size, custom-made guillotine, a holdover from a Bastille Day celebration. The lighting is subdued. Past a long, sweeping wood-topped bar on this particular Saturday night, a crooner belts
January/February 2017 | Simply Buckhead
F&B is both charming and decadent STORY:
out Dean Martin’s version of “La Vie En Rose” into a microphone. Above the wooden plank floor are shelves with stacks of creamy white dishes and soup bowls. Chandeliers in cages dangle above green-striped banquettes with soft brown leather seats. Business meetings and “ladies who lunch” fill the tables during the day, while the evening welcomes regulars who linger over bottles of wine. A woman who walked in before my dining companion and me was ushered to her “regular seat” with the best view of the singer. French de rigueur white cloths dress the tables that are surrounded by bistro chairs, all nestled closely together. Vintage French advertising posters line a terra cotta wall, and a curved cutout made of glass panels lends a view to the semi-open kitchen. Front and center stands a cast iron Godin stove like the ones used in the 19th century to heat French households. The menu echoes the singer’s lineup— a core of old-fashioned classics with a few new dishes such as tuna crudo, quail
rosettes and seasonal flatbreads added in for a refresh. I mentioned to our server, Jeremy, that a Sancerre from the flinty white soils of the Loire valley that was only offered by the bottle sounded lovely. He agreed and brought a glass with the bread service, which included an equally exquisite housemade salted butter. While sipping wine and noshing bread, we studied the menu, which is broken into three categories: petit, moyen and grand. At first glance, it reads like a glutton’s feast: beef Bourguignon, foie gras, escargot, oysters, whole lobster, duck two ways, 20-ounce ribeye. But it’s also very possible to have a lighter meal by choosing delicate soups, salads and raw seafood. The glass of Sancerre paired beautifully with the half dozen crab claws, the wine’s acidity and minerality embellishing the freshness of the seafood and awakening the subtle sweetness of the claws, which we dipped in clarified butter. The mussels, piled high and swimming in a broth of white wine and shallots and giving off wisps of briny steam, were enchanting before the first taste. The sea taste in the slightly chewy meat was enhanced by the spices, and the crusty French bread helped sop up the tangy and garlicky broth. Lunch starters are equally satisfying. The F&B salad is a colorful kaleidoscope arrangement of mixed greens, artichoke hearts, shavings of salty Parmesan, tomatoes and pine nuts delicately dressed in a bright lemony herb dressing. My dining companion ordered a bowl of white bean