Le Grand claims it offers "everyday French comfort food," but it also prides itself on serving a variety of fresh, raw oysters.
Styled like a Parisian brasserie, Le Grand is a large, roomy restaurant, with numerous tables and booths, and a banquet room in back. The interior is a bit darkly lit, with tile floors and deep-red walls decorated by whimsical farm animal drawings.
We arrived with another couple on a Saturday night, with reservations for 6:30 pm. Their dinner menu was extensive. Diners can choose between six different oyster varieties, numerous other seafood bar options, small plates, large plates, charcuterie, and cheeses. Oh, and desserts.
We started with two each of the Kumamotos ($3.5 each) and Malpeque ($2.5 each) oysters.
|Oysters: Kumamotos and Malpeque|
They were served on the half shell with lemon, horseradish, mignonette sauce, and cocktail sauce. If I were along the coast somewhere, I'd have guessed the oysters were plucked from the ocean earlier that day. But clearly I was actually in Denver, and I just have to marvel at how fresh the oysters tasted that far inland.
We also split three different charcuterie: Head Cheese ($4), Rabbit Rillette ($4), and Foie Gras Mousse ($9).
Cooked from pork cheeks, the head cheese was packed with a multitude of ingredients and flavors. It was flavored with garlic, shallots, and many other herbs and spices, including what tasted like allspice. I am by no means a head cheese expert, but I felt it was just too many flavors in each bite.
The rabbit rillette was made of rabbit confit and duck fat, and flavored with chives and sea salt. It had a texture like a thick gravy, with tiny pieces of the rabbit confit throughout. Spreading it on the toasted bread made for a rich, satisfying bite of saturated fat.
|Foie Gras Mousse|
The Foie Gras mousse was made with Hudson Valley foie gras, Sauturnes (yeah I had to look that up, it's a sweet French wine), and heavy cream. Like the rillete, it was extremely rich, with a smooth, velvety texture. More saturated fat heaven.
We split the Jarret D’agneau Braisé ($25), which basically translated to braised lamb shank.
|Braised Lamb Shank|
The lamb was served alongside parsnip puree, baby carrots, and pearl onions. The meat was cooked perfectly to very tender, and easily fell off the bone with some help from a fork. The lamb was complimented with the flavors of the starchy parsnips and sweet carrots and onions.
Unlike Le Central and Pierre Michel, which both serve giant, American-sized portions, I was pleased that Le Grand stuck to more traditional French serving sizes. The small quantities were perfect for the rich, flavorful food offered.
While the food was very good, service was generally slow and disorganized (I seem to be echoing a million Yelp reviewers on this point). Our waitress was often hard to track down, and we had multiple servers bringing bread, plates, drinks, and food to the table.
We had sat down at 6:30, with plans to head to Comedy Works a couple blocks away for an 8:30 show. Our entrees didn't arrive until about 7:50, and that was after notifying our waitress that we had a dinner deadline. Fortunately the waitstaff kicked into high gear when we told them about the show, and we made it to Comedy Works without issue.
Regretfully, having to rush out for our show meant we couldn't try the intriguing-looking Foie Gras Creme Brulee dessert.
Le Grand was a great spot for authentic French food, but they need to work on the clunky service.
Pros: Excellent food, loved the ambiance and decor. Oysters were extremely fresh.
Cons: Slow, disorganized service