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French cuisine comes to Northshore

Northshore Brasserie brings a fusion of French and Belgian cuisine to Knoxville.

The restaurant, which opened Oct. 20, is located at 9430 Northshore Drive near Pellissippi Parkway. The focus is on European comfort food, referred to as “hearty fare” by owners Brian and Stephanie Balest. The brother-sister team brings years of European living and restaurant experience to Knoxville.

“A ‘brasserie’ is a gathering place with lots of energy,” Stephanie said, “it’s not meant for the quiet at heart.” The term “brasserie” originally meant “brewery,” but now implies a restaurant featuring heavy dishes along with beer and wine.

“People know each other,” added her brother, Brian. “The focus is on food and conversation.”

There are no little nooks for private conversations. The open floor plan allows people to mill around from table to table. The décor is minimal: wood floors, pressed tin ceiling, rattan-backed chairs, white tablecloths. There is no artwork, and that is intentional. All the attention is to be focused on eating and socializing. Since opening in October, Northshore Brasserie has attracted regulars and the noise level goes up in the evening.

The restaurant is equipped with wireless Internet service to cater to business people who need to work, but also boasts a zinc-topped bar, traditional in brasseries, as well. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. Reservations are accepted and take-out is available.

Chef Shane Robertson, a native of Charleston, S.C., loves French cuisine and has been an executive chef for two other restaurants. The food is labor intensive and takes longer to prepare than the average restaurant. The ingredients are fresh rather than frozen, and everything is made from scratch. On the menu are escargot, mussels, frog legs, rabbit, venison, lamb, and duck, along with traditional French dishes. A typical French meal might include onion soup, escargot, bouillabaisse (seafood stewed in garlic and white wine), with profiterole (a fresh pastry with ice cream in the middle covered with warm chocolate sauce).

“A brasserie menu tends to be a certain type of menu,” Stephanie said, citing steak frites (steak and fries) as an example. The French substitute mayonnaise for catsup, and she insists once you’ve tried it, you won’t go back.

Entrees include beef bourguignon, flat iron steak, pan roasted chicken, sautéed walleye pike, fish du jour, macaroni au gratin, monkfish medallion, coq au riesling, roasted duck breast, whole roasted veal rack, linguini aioli, and omelette with fine herbs. Price of entrees varies from $8 to $17 at lunch and from $11 to $24 for dinner.


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