One of the busiest restaurateurs in Cincinnati is now managing a growth spurt for restaurants.
In the past few months, Jean-Robert de Cavel has recently launched several new French-themed restaurants.
De Cavel has opened French Crust, a traditional French bistro and café in Over-the-Rhine, and Frenchie Fresh, a fast-paced French restaurant in Norwood’s Rookwood Exchange. Both openings come a few months after gourmet L restaurant began serving downtown Cincinnati diners. In fact, L has just started serving lunch.
Jean-Robert’s new restaurant in the city center has opened
The timing was a little crazy, said de Cavel. “But they’re all good ideas and I have good people who make them,” he said. “It’s always about the team. I need places where they can take the next step instead of seeing them leave for the competition.”
De Cavel ushered in a new wave of food by opening Lavomatic in the Vine Street neighborhood north of Central Parkway in 2008. With French Crust near Findlay Market, de Cavel leads the way, which he believes will lead to further development in Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty Street.
The new French Crust on the corner of Elm Street and Elder Street is a two-part restaurant. The room facing Elm Street is the bistro and serves a traditional French menu. Enjoy things that were popular at de Cavel’s JeanRo Bistro when it was open on Vine Street Downtown – charcuterie, brandade, calf liver, French stews, and clams.
Like all de Cavel restaurants, French Crust is decorated with its personal collection of French art, as well as posters and furnishings such as a French white and blue porcelain oven.
A hallway lined with a closet that houses de Cavel’s amazing collection of salt and pepper sets with figures wearing chef hats leads to the cafe. This is just like the original French crust that serves coffee, pastries, breakfast and lunch. There are pastry boxes full of macarons, canneles, croissants, small cakes and pastries, all from pastry chef Jean-Philippe Solnom. He now has a much larger production kitchen for his desserts.
French Crust seats 60 and has a bar with 22 seats. The restaurant is open this Saturday and Sunday for brunch and then from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch or brunch and from Wednesday to Saturday for dinner. The restaurant offers an early dinner on Sundays. Calla Heirt, who has worked at The Table for the past four years, is the cook.
The original French crust on Vine Street is not closed but will be closed for a few days for renovations. The location will reopen with a new order-at-the-counter format.
Frenchie Fresh offers a different dining experience but is still based on de Cavel’s tradition of high quality dishes.
With Frenchie Fresh, orders are placed at the counter and food is delivered to customers in the restaurant or on the terrace. In a way, it’s a streamlined version of Bar a Boeuf with bison, beef, turkey meat patties, and a vegetarian patty. The concept also comes from Jean-Bob’s, the burger stand at Paul Brown Stadium that is open for Cincinnati Bengals games. The restaurant offers a nicoise salad, fries with truffle dust and a “sloppy jean” sandwich.
“It’s a bit silly, but funny,” said de Cavel.
Roy Silcott, who has worked with de Cavel at Maisonette and elsewhere, heads Frenchie Fresh.
Restaurant L, which was open for dinner in August, is now open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is the gourmet restaurant in the Great American Tower that de Cavel opened with Maitre d ‘Richard Brown.
In contrast to the Prix Fixe dinner menu, lunch is à la carte with options like lobster bisque, hot flame, Lyonnaise salad and braised veal cheeks with sweet bread ravioli. Prices range from $ 15 for salads to main courses in the $ 20 range.