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Bon App-alachia: French food and wine find home in WV



White linens drape the tables, and champagne-filled flutes line the bar. Soft classical music plays in the background. The featured menu item of the day is escargot - cocoa and chamomile cure, plum compote, chamomile sauternes jelly and toasted brioche.

 

But this isn't Paris. Or Marseille. Or Nice.

 

It is The French Goat in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

 

This small, French-style bistro is located in a historic mountain town of about 4,000 people and serves a menu of classic French dishes - that originated some 4,000 miles across the Atlantic - with a twist.

 

"I love classic dishes and flavor combinations, and I try to pay homage to the classics by recreating them with available local ingredients and my own spin," said Hannah Reid, chef at The French Goat.

 

"Trying to keep in mind that simple food is often my favorite, I seek to balance being true to the ingredients and concepts while still having a bit of fun."

 

Take, for example, the restaurant's Crisp Duck Confit, accompanied by barbecue sea island red peas, cauliflower whipped potatoes, charbroiled carrots, and winter cress in warm maple-bourbon vinaigrette.

 

"We feel that Duck Confit is one of the classic French dishes that should be on a bistro menu, and this recipe is a classic confit preparation of the duck and a playful and tasty use of vegetables for the accompaniments," she said.

 

Other classic dishes include Foie Gras Torchon with onion marmalade, cornichon, toasted brioche and sauternes gelee; Croque Madame with griddled farmhouse bread, country ham, gruyere cheese, mornay sauce, fresh hen egg and frites; and Tuna Nicoise with seared ahi tuna, haricot verts, hard egg, fingerling potatoes, olives, baby greens and balsamic vinaigrette.

 

Delectable desserts include the chef's daily creme brulee, chocolate mousse with whipped cream, and an apple and almond cake with butterscotch sauce, calvados, and whipped creme fraiche.

 

"Whenever I get a chance to travel, I try cuisines, restaurants, and ingredients that are new to me, and I get an urge to replicate some of these things in my kitchen," Reid said.

 

"It's not that I copy exact dishes, but I get excited to try and recreate some of the flavor combinations and techniques that really stand out to me. I want to reproduce for our diners the same sense of euphoria that I experience when I have a truly memorable meal."

 

At a young age, Reid enjoyed her first life-changing bites that would ultimately feed her life's passion.

 

"I was a dishwasher at a French bistro when I was a teenager, and the chefs were always feeding me 'exotic' dishes and ingredients that I assumed I wouldn't like," Reid, who grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Albemarle County, said.

 

"However, I did not want to be rude and turn down food, and I realized that I loved everything I tried. Between this epiphany and a newfound love of the frenetic atmosphere of the kitchen, I was hooked!"

 

After years of ascending the ranks across kitchens in Appalachia, Reid began leading the culinary team at The French Goat fairly in recent years - though the restaurant itself has been open for nearly a decade.

 

In 2015, The French Goat proprietors Debbie Porter and Arthur Forgette pursued their lifelong passion for French food and wine. They realized their dream of opening a restaurant after leaving the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., in favor of returning to family roots in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

 

"Arthur and Debbie combine his vast knowledge and 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry with Debbie's New York marketing and sales background to open The French Goat," according to the restaurant's website.

 

Today, Porter and Forgette's vision pairs perfectly with Reid's culinary execution - like Bordeaux and Camembert. Chablis and oysters. Sauvignon Blanc and chevre.

 

"An excellent mentor and teacher, Chef Hannah Reid sets the tone for excellence and consistency within her team. She brings a wealth of culinary knowledge and experience to The French Goat, and her creativity and talent have positively impacted the culinary team," according to the website.

 

It is a match made in almost heaven. Or France.

 

The French Goat is at 290 Lafayette Street, Lewisburg, West Virginia, 24901. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is open for brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The phone number is 304-647-1052. For more information, visit https://www.thefrenchgoat.com

 

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