French cafe to open in Darien
Published 1:55 pm, Thursday, March 31, 2011
Leave it to a Frenchman to make you hungry.
Recalling his days growing up in the south of France, Regis Saget will sit and tell you about his days in a vineyard, the charming streetside cafes overlooking the ocean, and the wonderful, fresh food that can be found in different regions of France.
"It is a place not to be missed," he said.
His passion for French food is one of the reasons he was hired to be one of the executive chefs at a new restaurant in Darien combining the culinary styles of France and Lebanon.
Café Dazur, scheduled to open April 6 at 980 Post Road, is the creation of longtime restaurateurs Pierre and Myrna Lahoud. Billed as a French bistro, the new restaurant will feature dishes one might find at a sidewalk bistro in Paris, as well as Mediterranean and Greek favorites.
"It's a combining of different cuisines and it should be very refreshing," said Myrna Lahoud.
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Menu items will include traditional French items such as Croque Monsieur, Swiss cheese melted over ham and white bread with slow-cooked Béchamel sauce, or Escargot baked with parsley and garlic butter. On the Mediterranean side, one can find lamb gyros, moussaka or grilled kebabs of chicken, lamb or prawns.
Perhaps what makes the mouth water the most is the huge offering of French crepes, thin batter wraps that are stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients. Think crepes with ham and cheese, or grilled veggies. For dessert, you may opt for a crepe flambéed with orange sauce and Grand Marnier, ice cream or Nutella with bananas or strawberries.
"It's very light, thin, and people love it," said Pierre Lahoud. "There are a lot of families in Darien, and these are very kid-friendly."
The décor of the new restaurant will feature dark wooden floors, tables, and chairs with oil paintings on the walls featuring picturesque scenes from Paris, and a pleasant blue ceiling. On the wall is a sampling of the French wines that will be available for purchase. There will be seating for about 50 diners, plus an outdoor dining area as well.
What you won't find is a menu filled with items loaded with butter, cream, and fat -- all things that French cuisine can be known for. Myrna said everything is made with the health-conscious in mind. Even bread on the tables has been replaced with olives and pickles.
"People expect to come into a restaurant and fill up on bread and butter and then they're not hungry for the meal," she said. "This way they can enjoy dessert as well."
Myrna, who grew up in Greenwich and for 25 years has operated restaurants in Stamford and Greenwich, makes a great team with Pierre, who was born in Lebanon and moved to France as a child. He opened up a Mediterranean restaurant in Paris and came here to the U.S. 12 years ago where he worked as a chef in New York City before coming to Stamford to manage Myrna's Stamford restaurant. Together, the two decided to open up in Darien, while bringing on board Saget and a second executive chef with 55 years of culinary experience, Joseph Jabboud, to oversee the Lebanese side of the menu.
"People who have been to places like Spain, Lebanon, and France -- when they smell the aroma of the food, it reminds them of the area," Pierre said. "The main thing is to enjoy. It should be a pleasure to eat rather than just filling the stomach."