Joie de vivre, meaning joy of eating.

I went to French 75 expecting a simple lunch, but it was much more than that! It was a gastronomic experience. This spot has been open for a year now — located just one block off 16th Street Mall — and is owned by local restaurateur, Frank Bonnano who spent time in some of the best French restaurants in America, The French Laundry in California and Daniel in New York.

I started my meal off with their namesake drink, French 75 (aka 75 Cocktail or Soixante Quinze), which is a cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. And fun fact: it dates back to World War I!

My friendly server, Jordan, welcomed me with a warm, crispy baguette with truffle butter that immediately transported me back to Paris. Then, my first course was St. Jacques diver scallops with pea puree, roasted baby carrot puree with pea shoots, and radish. The colors leaped off the plate and the scallops were cooked to perfection.

I can’t go to a French bistro and not have the Brie En Croute, and French 75’s did not disappoint. All the elements were there — the gooey brie cheese housed in pastry dough and a homemade black pepper orange marmalade. And the next course, the lobster bisque, was velvety smooth and poured piping hot at the table.

Now onto the main event, Canard a l’orange — medium rare duck breast with crispy skin on top of a cassoulet which is a rich, slow-cooked casserole containing meat pork skin and white beans. As if that wasn’t enough, they serve it with a confit duck leg with an orange fennel glaze. This dish is a triumph of classic French cooking techniques.

I know, I know. You’d think I’d be done by now, but I couldn’t resist their vanilla-chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, and lemon macarons. And let’s be honest, no trip to French 75 is complete without them!

Also, instead of a happy hour, they have a ‘green hour’ that runs from 3-6, Monday through Friday. “Since the 1870’s, the French have been celebrating, l’heure verte, a toast to the end of the workday and beginning of the evening. The tradition calls for one or more glasses of Absinthe before dinner.”

This amazing gastronomic experience can be enjoyed for 20 percent less this month on the Feast locally card and put in code DENVERNOW to receive $10 off the card.

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