Annapolis has a special place in its civic heart for the French. Last month, city dignitaries and throngs of local residents turned out at City Dock to welcome the Hermione—an exact replica of the frigate that brought the Marquis de Lafayette from Rochefort, France to Boston in 1780. Several Annapolis families hosted the French visitors, treating them to dinner at Les Folies, the city’s premier French restaurant. The celebration of the Annapolis-France alliance continues this month with the wildly popular Bastille Day extravaganza at Les Folies Brassserie, to which the public is invited.
Chef owner Alain Montrat, his staff and special performers have been preparing for the 16th annual bash at his restaurant on the fringe of Annapolis. Red, white and blue decorations were in place by July 1, appropriate colors for July 4 as well as 19 Juillet 1789, when Marie Antoinette’s decidedly un-PC sound bite including the four-letter word “cake” aroused the rabble to a fever pitch.
Imagine Marie Antoinette in an elaborate white wig, wearing a fancy white dress as she sits in a replica of the carriage transporting her to her fate. Imagine her consort (played by longtime Les Folies waiter Eric), looking drop-dead gorgeous in an authentic white uniform as he escorts the ill-fated queen. Imagine a prison cell occupied by another poor soul and a replica of the guillotine that plays a prominent role in the scenario.
Now imagine sitting down to a special banquet of four courses, during which guests are entertained with music from Les Miserables and other popular French songs as well as high-kicking can-can dancers. All this while you feast on your choice of hors d’oeuvre (goose liver with sauternes gelee, avocado and lump crab meat, fried oysters, or smoked duck breast with celeriac and lingonberries), les poissons et les viands (peppercorn-crusted tuna with lobster sauce, seared codfish with gazpacho sauce, roast lamb with rosemary jus, veal loin with mushrooms and madeira sauce, or filet mignon with fois gras and truffles) and the kitchen’s dream-worthy desserts (meringues with pistachio pastry cream, a chocolate truffle mouse cake or strawberry cake with Grand Marnier pastry cream).
Your choice of wines depends on your budget, though the house selections are solid and Les Folies’ wine list is well-chosen. It is impossible to stay sad at this event and many of the restaurant’s regular patrons make this an annual indulgence at $105 per person. If, however, you cannot attend the July 14 gourmet feasting, go to this venerable and authentic French establishment on your own – just for the fun of it. Eat, dance and sing the night away – en Anglaise ou en Francaise. Note: Reservations mandatory for Bastille Day.
Les Folies Brasserie. 2552 Riva Rd., Annapolis 21401. Authentic French cuisine. 410-573-0970. www.lesfoliesbrasserie.com. Open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Sat 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Sun ‘till 9 Sun. Major credit cards accepted. Handicapped accessible. Private dining room available. Ample parking lot. Located 6.8 miles from downtown Annapolis.
Photos courtesy of Les Folies Brasserie.