good coq au vin requires the artful flambéing of cognac to enhance the dish’s rich flavor. So too does the flare of French 75 intensify and delight the Denver restaurant scene. The restaurant opened in July 2017 and is the newest addition to the growing collection of Bonanno Concepts restaurants. As the group’s second French-inspired restaurant, French 75 is the relaxed little brother of Frank Bonanno’s Mizuna. It offers a more casual bistro ambiance that makes French cuisine approachable, melding the traditional with the contemporary and culminating in a truly delightful dining experience.
The Docket visited French 75 on a blustery winter evening, but as soon as we entered the cozy bistro, nestled on the corner of 17th and Stout, we were greeted warmly. The red brick interior and sunset lighting thawed our toes and our souls. The wall adjacent to the bar, designed by Jacqueline Bonanno, offers a visual delight as it is made up entirely of chartreuse caps. We took our seats upstairs in the wine loft where soft murmurs of intimate conversations cooed in our ears. The subtle sentiment of romance tantalized and tingled our senses. Of course, a glass of the Jean-Luc Colombo Les Collines de Laure helped as well.
Indeed, French 75 boasts an enticing wine selection, 80 percent of which is French. The resident sommelier, Sean Hellyar, recommends the 2015 Domaine Bertagna Hautes Cotes de Nuits with its “natural, funky, barnyardy nose” balanced by crisp grapefruit acidity. The other 20 percent of the wine menu is selected from local regions, such as California, where the vintner utilized traditional French varietals. I adored the Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot.
Of course, one would be remiss to visit French 75 and not order the champagne cocktail of the same name. The restaurant adopted the gin-based version, whose origin dates back to Harry’s Bar in Paris in the 1920s. The cocktail takes its name after World War I artillery because it is served in a stemless champagne flute that resembles the weapon’s cannon barrel.
In addition to our delectable drinks, we enjoyed a rich sampling of the Torchon foie gras, the steak tartare, the brie en croute and the burgundian escargot gratinee. The foie gras melted smoothly on our tongues, creamy yet not too gamey. The escargot enticed us as the basil-fed snails were also covered in copious, buttery cheese.
The rest of the French 75 menu perked our culinary curiosity and mandated a return visit. And, because the bistro is conveniently located in the central business district, such a rendezvous is certain. À votre santé. D
Kaelyn Gustafson is a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Rebecca Freyre on the Colorado Court of Appeals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.