Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Schenectady getting upscale French-inspired restaurant

Chez Nous (inset)and its main dining room.
SCHENECTADY -- Chez Nous, a French-inspired restaurant created in a former residence built circa 1875, will open Tuesday at 707 Union Street.

The 95-seat venture by the husband-wife team of Heather and Andy Chestnut, natives of the Capital Region who lived in France for several years.

They have created separate dining spaces on two floors of the Victorian-style building. The first floor has a 38-seat dining room. The bar room, with a traditional French zinc bar top, and second-floor library lounge both feature functioning fireplaces in-season. Much of the decor is reclaimed items sourced from through the Mohawk and Hudson valleys.

Rob Gavel
Rob Gavel is the chef de cuisine. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America after years as a professional artist, and in 2005 moved to the Capital Region to become the proprietor of Café 1795 in Schenectady, then was executive chef at The Winedown Lounge. After The Winedown closed, he became a private chef before returning to restaurants as general manager of the Guilderland restaurant Athos.

He is overseeing a menu featuring dishes from France and the adjacent portion of Switzerland, with entrees in the $20 to $45 range. "We've been working on this project for over a year. It's like no place else in the Capital Region," Gavel says, "French comfort food created from mostly regional farm products." Among examples are a Filet of Turbot Meuniere (fish pan-fried in housemade goat’s milk butter, accompanied by lemon and parsley pan sauce and roasted honey glazed heirloom carrots), Lapin a la Moutarde (braised brown rabbit with Dijon mustard, Chablis, shallots, double cream, and tarragon leaves, with Canadian rice), and Howard Thermidor (shelled fresh Maine lobster with chardonnay, sherry, shallots, mustard, double cream, and chervil and tarragon, with fresh pappardelle).

Heather, who holds a culinary degree from Schenectady County Community College, said such items as bread, butter, mayonnaise and chevre goat's cheese will be made in-house. Andy is in charge of the restaurant's wine and spirits collection.

Chez Nous, which translates into English roughly as "our house," will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner, light fare and cocktails. Phone: 344-6393.

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