Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another excellent Raleigh restaurant: Saint-Jacques

As I've noted before, the Triangle area has developed into a small-scale foodie paradise. With lots of very good restaurants, a few top-drawer ones, and a wide selection of wonderful locally grown and raised food, this small part of North Carolina has become a great place to go out to eat. I'm now happy to add another name to the list of top-drawer local dining establishments: Saint-Jacques French Cuisine.

Saint-Jacques has been around for several years, so I'm not sure why I took so long to try it. Maybe it was the strip-mall location, or the fact that a far less interesting French restaurant once occupied the same spot. Regardless of the reason, I was wrong to wait. Saint-Jacques is pricey for the area but worth every penny. The food is classic French, with all the wonderful sauces you'd expect, but it's never too heavy. Chef/owner Lil Lacassagne keeps dishes from his childhood on the menu, and both it and the more traditional ones that we sampled were superb.

Lest I mislead anyone, I should note that Saint-Jacques is never going to win three Michelin stars, because neither the dining room nor the service could meet those exacting standards. The two rooms are pleasant enough, but a little decorating help would go a long way to improving them. The service was good and friendly, but aside from the sommelier, no one else seemed fully aware of what it would take to serve as well as the kitchen cooked.

Those are nits, though, and I do not want to stress them. Six of us had a wonderful meal, and over five courses--yes, we were oinking piggies by the end--only one part of one dish (a risotto that had turned the sad corner to gummy) was anything less than excellent.

If you live in this area, you owe it to yourself to save up and catch a great meal at Saint-Jacques.

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