January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 84: Les Folies Brasserie

It’s no longer a revelation that you can turn up good food in the suburbs—often in the unlikeliest of strip malls. But it’s still a little unusual to find good French food on the side of the road between a Beltway exit and a big mall.

That would be at Les Folies in Annapolis, now in its seventh year. Its owners, Alain Matrat and Jean-Claude Galan, are restaurant veterans whose résumés include stints at Provence and the Jockey Club, and they have done a fine job of re-creating the feel of a French brasserie.

Better French cooking is being done at a slew of Modern American restaurants in DC, but it would be hard to find a seafood tower that can surpass the one here—a huge, ice-topped platter strewn with seaweed and covered with a well-shucked selection of fresh oysters (which have recently included Belons, Malpeques, and Blue Points), raw clams, baked scallops, langoustines, and periwinkles. A country pâté is coarse and assertively spiced; even better is the terrine, which despite its richness is well balanced, even delicate.

The coq au vin and the bouillabaisse are hardly definitive versions, but they’re good and satisfying. So, too, the tarte Tatin and the crème brûlée.

Service has its lapses but is generally well meaning and genial—there’s not a trace of Gallic hauteur in the place.

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