St. Jacques - A Tasteful Splurge in North Raleigh

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If fusion confuses you and your ears are still ringing from the noise level of the last restaurant you frequented, St. Jacques could be the answer to your prayers. Religious symbolism seems appropriate to describe the almost reverent atmosphere of St. Jacques, where owner Lil Lacassagne shepherds a flock of devoted customers, intent on keeping the faith alive.

Lacassagne, a native of Provence, smiles at the religious analogy, as he preaches about the superiority of French cooking. Meanwhile the aromas from the pots in the kitchen rise like incense and settle over the elegant and serene dining room. Let the ceremony begin.

The ingredients are seasonally inspired but executed with pure decadence, so stash the calorie counter; this is a splurge, remember?

To balance the richness that’s inevitable in French food, I’d suggest starting with a salad; perhaps Bleu cheese mousse served on a puff croquant with pears poached in port wine. With salads like that, who needs dessert?

You can’t go wrong with the escargot, which the menu refers to as “the beef of Provence,” or the frog legs sautéed in garlic and parsley butter. I told you it was decadent.
Entrees run the gamut; fricassee of guinea fowl, sweetbreads a la corse, wild boar Provencal stew and coq au vin, which Lacassagne describes as requiring an almost godlike quality to prepare (the trick is to properly sear the chicken, so that the meat attaches itself to the bone, resulting in divine tenderness, not mush.) The crusted sea bass, cooked in a thin potato crust is a contender for most tempting entrée but it’s hard to turn down Tournedos Rossini Saint Jacques - filet mignon on a buttery brioche topped with seared foie gras and finished with a Madeira and morel mushroom sauce. Served with potato au gratin and slowly roasted Provencal tomato, it’s the most expensive item on the menu, ($36.95) but you probably haven’t had anything like this since the eighties, so I say go for it.

After a meal this rich, I’d suggest Poire Saint Jacques for dessert; you’ll feel virtuous ordering fruit. The poached pears are filled with almond ice cream, topped with chocolate syrup and finished with whipped cream.

No matter where you live in the Triangle, it’s definitely worth a pilgrimage to North Raleigh to dine at St. Jacques. One meal will make a believer out of you.

(Susan Ely)


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