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Olivier le Francois

On a recent visit for lunch, the mood was somber — there was only one other table occupied. And the appetizers didn’t help the ambience. I had melon au jambon aux crudites, with slices of melon, Parma ham and chargrilled eggplant. My companion had pate de campagne. Both dishes were lifeless and underwhelming, but things improved when it came to the main courses. The choucroute garnie, an Alsatian version of the pickled cabbage dish made famous in Eastern Europe, was generous and hearty: Thick cuts of ham combined with potatoes and carrots on a bed of sauerkraut. My companion had the poulet roti, a simple roast chicken dish, the skin cooked to crackling and covered in the juices from roasting. It was served with a tomato sauce over a bed of mashed potatoes.