La Boucherie

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Boucherie exterior

In the 15 or so times I’ve been to France, I’ve never once come across La Boucherie, which, on the website for the chain’s first U.S. location, now open in Orlando, claims to be “France’s most popular steakhouse.”

So I can’t attest to how the experience of the Orlando restaurant compares to one in Paris. Or Morocco, Russia or Thailand for that matter. I wonder if they use the same ridiculously flimsy napkins, and if so why. Or if their menus have garish photographs like you’d see in a 24-hour diner. Or trite phrases in menu descriptions like “Need ‘oui’ say more?”, which doesn’t really make sense.

Boucherie interior 1

They do seem similar decors from what I can glean from online photos. Red banquettes; some chairs upholstered in a cowhide motif; red and white striped paper placemats (to go with those napkins); white tiles like you’d find in a butcher (or boucherie); guernsey-like gewgaws gathered about.

But I certainly hope La Boucherie in Chelyabinsk, Russia, has the same good food as the one in Orlando.

The menu is quite French, at least in content if not in graphic design. It is definitely not haute cuisine but more milieu. Its name is a clue that it is meat centric and steaks do have a heavy presence.

But there are also classic dishes such as Pot-Au-Feu and Blanquette de Veau.

Boucherie veal

My companion ordered the latter, a white ragout with a creamy sauce, mushrooms, onions, carrots and big hunks of stewed veal that pulled apart easily. The sauce was hot but some of the meat was cool in the middle, but it eventually evened out. The dish, served in a cocotte branded with the restaurant’s name, came with a side of white rice, which was nice with the rich sauce.

Boucherie frites

I went the stereotypical French steakhouse route with Steak Frites and was not disappointed. Although the sirloin steak was thin it was nevertheless cooked to the requested medium rare and had a nice peppery seasoning. The fries were chunky but crispy, and I ate a few more than I intended to. I must say I wasn’t impressed with the bearnaise that was served with the steak. It was a bit too thickened and lacked any flavor.

Boucherie snails

For starters we had Escargot, prepared a la Bourguignon, with several chewy nubs — out of the shells, thank you — simmered in well garlicked butter with enough parsley to make you think they’d just slithered out of the garden.

Boucherie marrow

We also had Bone Marrow, a tall shank served, properly, with bread and a spill of sea salt to sprinkle over the meat butter. Besides as an appetizer, bone marrow is included in the pot-au-feu and as a side with the Ribeye steak, as is customary in many French steakhouses.

Boucherie island

For dessert there was Floating Island, an ethereal cloud of meringue in a puddle of creme anglais topped with slivered almonds. Light and rich at the same time.

Servers follow proper protocol. They are made to wear oddly wrapped aprons that sling over one shoulder, Flintstone fashioned, and tied in such a way as to make you think that no one had ever worn an apron before. Looks really uncomfortable.

But it’s probably just part of the franchise’s branding, just like the logo featuring the head of a smiling steer, its tongue in full lick.

La Boucherie makes some odd design choices, but the food is sur le point.

La Boucherie is at 7625 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-930-1708.