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Nov 3, 2008 08:22 AM

Why no good (or any?) French food in Brookline?

My wife and I were wondering about this recently. Years ago some of my favorite French restaurants were in Brookline (Veronique when it was in Coolidge Corner, and the place whose name I can't recall that used to be in Brookline Village next to the old Checker Taxi showroom), but nowadays there seems to be nothing at all in the area - the closest I can think of is Petit Robert Bistro in Kenmore, and we're not big fans of that.

Are we missing something? I know French food has gone somewhat out of style, but you'd think Brookline could manage to support at least one place serving a classic French menu.

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  1. When one spends all their money on over-valued mortgage payments and parking spaces, one can only afford cut-rate Thai or the occasional burrito.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      And cue the rim shot! But seriously, Brookline may not be the South End (or even Somerville), but we have Lineage, Taberna de Haro, Shiki, Gari, Fugakyu, Khao Sarn, and La Morra, to name just a few - tasty all, but none of them French.

      1. re: BobB


        To be on topic, I think maybe it is a generational thing - not sure who all is going to the French restaurants in other parts of the city, but I feel like a lot of folks who you'll see at the above-listed restaurants tend to be in their 20s-30s and thus more concerned about their waistlines, so eschew the richness typical of French food. My best guess.

        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Maybe - but the crowd I've seen at Petit Robert doesn't look any different to me than at the others I mentioned.

          1. re: BobB

            I'm surprised you make such a distinction between Boston and Brookline. It's unfortunate you don't like PRB. Gaslight isn't that far in one direction or Aquitaine Bis in the other. Those restaurants you mention haven't been around for for years so you hopefully have found some other places you like.

            1. re: Joanie

              I've had mixed experiences at PRB - sometimes very good food, but sometimes real clinkers, like burnt sweetbreads or underdone beans in a cassoulet, so it's come off our regular rotation.

              I should add that my wife and I also like to be able to walk to dinner, which we can with all the current ones I mentioned, or at least take the T (we're off Harvard St. between the B and C lines). I'm not familiar with either Gaslight or Aquitaine Bis, are they T-accessible?

              1. re: BobB

                Did anyone else have a dyslexic moment and think this discussion about liking PRB was really PBR, Pabst Blue Ribbon...I re-read these posts several times wondering why PBR was served at French restaurants ;)

                1. re: BobB

                  AB is on the D line Chestnut Hill stop or the 60 bus (best mussels in town). Gaslight is not right on the T. I'd either take the T to Coplely or 39 bus to Back Bay Station and walk over to Harrison Ave. from there. Or the #1 down Mass Ave. Or maybe the 66 bus on Harvard St. to Dudley then the silver line down Washington St. It has a parking lot but that sounds like it doesn't matter to you guys.

                  I forgot about Bouchee and La Voile, both on Newbury St. in the Copley Sq. vicinity.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    Newbury is certainly easier to get to (for us) than the others, we'll have to check them out, thanks.

                    Oh, and I remembered the name of that place in Brookline Village, it was Chez Rainier. That and Veronique were my go-to first date places back in the day.

                    1. re: BobB

                      They were both good places; service at Rainier was especially good--I was a waiter/bartender @ Colorado Public Library around the corner and loved to go there.
                      Aquitaine Bis in Chestnut Hill I went to for brunch and was unimpressed. It's a chain but I think Brasserie Jo does a nice job.

                      1. re: ShelT54

                        If Brasserie Jo is a chain, it's only a two-link one; there's the original in Chicago, and the Boston one. It's not like it's a franchise operation.

                  2. re: BobB

                    Aquitaine Bis is about a 5 minute walk from the D branch of the greenline...In the same strip as Rosie's and Star market. The mall at Chestnut Hill, as opposed to the Chestnut Hill Mall

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      Aquitaine Bis is the only French restaurant I know of in Brookline (Chestnut Hill.) I've been several times (to both locations - South End and Chestnut Hill) and it's always been good yet pricey. Petit Bistro Robert is far better IMHO.

                    2. re: BobB

                      Gaslight might be a pain. From Bookline, you'd need to take a bus to Dudley Square (CT2 or 3?) and then the Silver Bus inbound to Waltham St., or go all the way to Boylston Station on the Green Line and then Silver Bus outbound.

                      Aquitaine is in the middle of "Restaurant Row" in the South End, and isn't too far a walk from either Copley or Arlington on the Green Line.

                    3. re: Joanie

                      I'm with Joanie. Is there some aversion to crossing the boarder to another town? Have you allowed your passport to expire? There's plenty of French in the vicinity of Brookline. Why none right in Brookline? Who knows. Maybe the current Board of Health is comprised of Francophobes.

                      1. re: Blumie

                        I guess I titled this badly. It's not a Brookline vs Boston thing, it's that we like to walk to dinner (and especially to walk back after dinner), that's part of why we live in the city. We're avid walkers, a mile or more is no problem, and we can (and do) walk to all the Brookline places I mentioned above, as well as to plenty more in Allston. But while I would not expect Allston to support a serious French restaurant, I would expect it of Brookline, and in the past it was true, so I was wondering why it isn't any more.

                        A rhetorical question, really, but I didn't figure that would stop people out here from trying to answer it.

            2. If you're considering Petit Robert in Kenmore as close enough, why not head to Eastern Standard?

              1. Cafe Veronique in Coolidge Corner: that takes me back! I really enjoyed it back then; it was hardly the same once it moved to Longwood Towers.

                Another option, though "walkable from Brookline" might depend on where you live, is Jasmine Bistro in Brighton Center. A big chunk of their menu is bistro French (which is very nicely done), though I tend to gravitate more to their Hungarian dishes (since no one else seems to bother with that cuisine in Boston anymore) and their occasional Baluchistani specials. Cute little family-run place, overlooked, and the wine list has a few bargains on it, too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Yeah, Veronique lost its magic when it moved to Longwood - it had been a warm, romantic space with some of the most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in - after the move it felt like a stuffy function room (which it basically was). My favorite was their roast duck with cognac/black pepper sauce, which I've tried in vain to replicate at home.

                  Jasmine Bistro does sound interesting - I love Hungarian food! We'll definitely check it out.

                  What's Baluchistani food like?

                  1. re: BobB

                    I describe Baluchistani as being like a cross between Pakistani and Persian food; some folks compare it to Afghan food, too: they're all neighbors, there are commonalities in ingredients and techniques. Some dishes are more Middle Eastern, akin to Syrian or Lebanese food.

                2. Not sure if this would interest you, but the Elephant Walk at St. Mary's Street has a French side of the menu: