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Gambit's 2012 Winter Restaurant Guide: French 

CAFE DEGAS 3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635; www.cafedegas.com This casual cafe serves refined French cuisine. Classic dishes include French onion soup, escargots and mussels steamed with white wine, fennel and herbs. Seared hanger steak is served with pommes frites. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Sat., dinner Wed.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

CHATEAU DU LAC BISTRO 2037 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-3773; www.chateaudulacbistro.com Pan-roasted sea scallops are wrapped in a crisp crepe and topped with vanilla-butter sauce. Roasted red and gold beets are paired with seared foie gras and finished with arugula, toasted walnuts, sun-dried cranberries and sherry vinaigrette. Reservations accepted. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards.  $$$

CIRO'S COTE SUD 7918 Maple St., 866-9551; www.cotesudrestaurant.com Blanquette de veau is veal simmered in broth with carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms. It's served with wild rice. Moules Provencal is a large bowl of steamed mussels served with pommes frites. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Cash and checks. $$

FLAMING TORCH RESTAURANT 737 Octavia St., 895-0900; www.flamingtorchnola.com Moules frites features mussels sauteed with bacon, garlic cream, and topped with fried potatoes. Redfish Oscar combines pan-seared redfish with jumbo lump crabmeat, grilled asparagus and Creole lemon beurre blanc. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$$

HERBSAINT BAR AND RESTAURANT 701 St. Charles Ave., 524-4114; www.herbsaint.com Chef Donald Link's restaurant combines refined and rustic French and Louisiana cuisine. Small plates include beef short ribs with a potato rosti and salsa verde. Slow-cooked lamb neck is served with seasonal greens, pepperonata and local Ryals yogurt. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

LA BOULANGERIE 4600 Magazine St., 269-3777La galette des rois is a French king cake with puff pastry layers filled with frangipane (almond cream). Flaky, buttery croissants are available plain or filled with chocolate or almonds. No reservations. Breakfast daily, lunch Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $

LA CREPE NANOU 1410 Robert St., 899-2670; www.lacrepenanou.comLa fondue is Swiss Emmentaler melted with white wine and Kirsch cherry liqueur, then served with bread and fresh fruit. Moules marinieres is a bowl of steamed mussels with garlic-white wine cream sauce served with pommes frites. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

LA PROVENCE 25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, (985) 626-7662; www.-laprovencerestaurant.comThe rustic French cooking of Provence is the focus at this John Besh restaurant. "Chef Chris' quail gumbo" is an appetizer of dirty rice-stuffed whole quail with gumbo jus. The oyster and orecchiette pasta is served with spicy garlic butter and heirloom tomato sauce and Covey Rise Farm vegetables. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wed.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

LILETTE RESTAURANT 3637 Magazine St., 895-1636; www.liletterestau- rant.comWhite truffle Parmesan toast is a rich appetizer combining wild mushrooms, marrow and veal glace. Roasted Muscovy duck breast is served with Tuscan kale, butternut squash, sage and satsuma coriander jus. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

LUKE 333 St. Charles Ave., 378-2840; www.lukenew-orleans.comChef John Besh focuses on local seafood and French and German influences at this brasserie. The etouffee of blue crab and brown shrimp is served with hand-made garganelli pasta. The shrimp and grits are made with andouille sausage and peppers in seafood stock. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily, brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

MARTINIQUE BISTRO 5908 Magazine St., 891-8495; www.martiniquebistro.com Sauteed Gulf shrimp and Maine lobster are served with winter spinach and sauce Americaine, a smoked tomato-based shrimp stock with a hint of curry. Cast iron-seared hanger steak is served with foie gras compound butter and smoked shallot demi-glace. Reservations recommended. Lunch Fri., dinner Tue.-Sun, brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards.   $$$

PATRICK'S BAR VIN 730 Bienville St., 200-3180; www.patricksbarvin.comFamiliar as both a sommelier and restaurant manager, Patrick Van Hoorebeek opened his wine bar in the St. Louis Hotel. The focus is on wine — and the list of offerings is long — and there's a small selection of cheese and charcuterie plates and olives. No reservations. Dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $

STE. MARIE 930 Poydras St., Suite 101, 304-6988; www.stemarie-nola.comThis modern bistro offers French-inspired fare and a long list of Champagnes. Handmade gnocchi are served with pancetta, cauliflower and butternut squash. The lobster mac and cheese is tossed with lobster meat, snow peas and Gruyere, fontina and Parmesan cheese sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun, dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$

TARTINE 7217 Perrier St., 866-4860; www.tartineneworleans.comThis quaint French-style neighborhood cafe serves pork rillette with a toasted baguette, onion marmalade and cornichons. Tuna nicoise salad is topped with olives, potatoes, boiled eggs, hearts of palm, roasted tomatoes, anchovies and vinaigrette. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

TOMAS BISTRO 755 Tchoupitoulas St., 527-0942; www.tomasbistro.comRoasted venison loin is served with juniper berry and black peppercorn burgundy reduction, gratineed potatoes, roasted chipolini onions and steamed asparagus. Bouillabaise Marseilles combines mussels, shrimp, lobster red snapper in saffron broth and is served with a garlic rouille crouton. Reservations accepted. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

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