Le Palais

Family-run French in the Kentlands.

By: Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head

Brittany is known for seafood and crepes, so it's no surprise that they show up on the menu at Le Palais, a new French restaurant in Gaithersburg whose chef/owner hails from Rennes, not far from the Brittany coast.

Joseph Zaka owned two restaurants in northwestern France in the 1980s and '90s, then came to Washington and worked at several restaurants as a floor captain and maître d'. In December he opened Le Palais, an upscale reastaurant in Kentlands.

Done in shades of salmon and buttercup, Le Palais is intimate enough that diners occasionally get a glimpse of Zaka in the kitchen. It is a family affair, with wife Christiane working the front and son David, a college student by day, waiting tables at night.

Though dishes of Brittany and Burgundy dominate, the changing menu straddles classic and modern cuisine. Look for starters ($9.50 to $15.95) such as seafood gratin, smoked-salmon crepe with artichoke coulis, and seared foie gras with Banyuls (sweet wine) sauce over polenta. Main courses ($23.95 to $32.95) include boeuf bourguignonne, monkfish with the lobster-based sauce américaine, and seared swordfish with mussels velouté. Zaka's desserts ($9.50 to $12) range from a cacao crepe with orange cream to fruit tarts.

At lunch, crepes make up main courses ($12.95 to $17.95). Starters ($7.50 to $14.95) include house-made foie gras terrine, avocado-and-shrimp salad, and tarte provençale with anchovies, olives, and onion confit. A banana-chocolate crepe and apple tarte Tatin are among the sweets ($8.95).

Zaka hopes to expand the short, mostly French wine list with more choices by the bottle and the glass as well as wines from Italy, South America, Chile, and California.

Le Palais: 304 Main St., Gaithersburg; 301-947-4051.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch, Monday through Saturday for dinner.