Local Eats Thursday – Francine Bistro
Francine Bistro – 55 Chestnut St., Camden
It’s not on Elm St (Route 1 through town), so you have to know it’s there. And you have to know it’s there well in advance as it’s often hard to make a last minute reservation. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 – 9. Semi-finalist for the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast and restaurant owner Brian Hill describes the fare, “We try to be really unpretentious. I love to just take these little tricks and apply them to simple, comforting food, and hopefully that comes across as providing a really extraordinary experience.” The menu changes daily and is available only on their website.
Here’s a Frommer’s review that does Francine’s justice: “This place feels more like a French brasserie in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District than a coastal seafood joint — and that’s a good thing. A meal from chef Brian Hill might begin with fish, onion, or lentil soup; a sevicheof halibut, Serrano chiles, and red onions; mussels in Bordeaux and shallots; or skewers of grilled lamb served with white pesto, orange, and endive. What a refreshing wakeup call in a section of coast dominated by fried/baked cod/haddock and lobsters. The night’s entrees might run to roast chicken with a chèvre gratin or a cauliflower-cheese hash; duck a l’orange; a crispy skate wing with Jerusalem artichokes; a roasted sea bass in caramelized garlic sauce; seared halibut with shrimp; a haddock stuffed with scallops; or reliable steak frites. Eat at simple tables from church-pew-like seating.”