French restaurant debuts in Craig
For Craig residents craving a taste of France, they needn’t travel far.
Belgian-born Florence and Didier Fraikin opened a French restaurant last week in the old Mom and Pop’s B.B.Q. building.
After the couple moved to the U.S. in June 2013 and had restaurants in Idaho and Indiana, they heard the West calling. Didier said he and Florence always have enjoyed this part of the country.
The family previously vacationed in Western America because of the couple’s love for horses and Western movies.
The Fraikins brought three of their eight children to America to help run the family’s restaurant business. The other five children are still in France, Didier said, also working in restaurants.
“We really like this area,” Didier said. “We like the people, the landscape and the wildlife.”
The restaurant, called The French Bistro, serves homemade dishes with le poulet (chicken), le boeuf (beef) and les fruits de mer (seafood), among other specialty French cuisine.
For non-francophones, or those who don’t speak French, the menu has English descriptions of food.
Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, The French Bistro has a separate breakfast/lunch menu and dinner menu.
The breakfast/lunch menu is available from open until 3:30 p.m., and people still can order from the dinner menu during those hours, as well. The breakfast/lunch menu has a selection of croissants, quiche, omelets, warm sandwiches, cold sandwiches and salads.
Dinner begins at 5 p.m. and will be served until close. Customers cannot order from the breakfast/lunch menu after 3:30 p.m. The dinner menu contains a variety of cold starters, warm starters, and seafood and meat dishes.
Anyone who stops in between 3:30 and 5 p.m. can order from the dinner menu, though the Fraikins said business often slows during these hours, allowing them to prepare for dinner.
Any item on the menu also can be ordered for take-out. Didier said they plan to serve alcohol in the future but do not have a liquor license yet.
The French Bistro also offers a catering menu and plans to have special dishes prepared for holidays, such as lobster bisque or prepared duck.
Didier describes the food as stick-to-your-bones comfort food.
“It’s like grandma-style cuisine,” Didier said. “Like your grandma made 50 years ago.”
He also said they hope to expand in the future.
“We would like to eventually buy the building and add on to it,” Didier said. “We’d also like to remodel the kitchen.”
Craig resident of 22 years Peggie Lawton said she’s happy to see a new type of food in town.
“I’ve never seen a French restaurant here,” Lawton said. “I don’t think they even have one in Steamboat.”
Lawton ordered French onion soup and the carbonnades de boeuf, a traditional, sweet French beef stew.
Virginia Elliott and her son Ken Bergstrom, both Craig residents for 35 years, stopped into The French Bistro for lunch and echoed Lawton’s thoughts.
“We heard we had a new place in town,” Elliott said. “And a French restaurant, you don’t usually find that in Craig. We don’t have a lot of interesting restaurants in this town, so it’s nice to try something new.”
Elliott ordered the cuisse de poulet Champignons crème, or a “chicken leg with delicious, homemade creamy mushroom sauce” that comes with stuffed potatoes.
“We like it when something new comes to Craig,” Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom tried the scampis et Saint Jacques sambre and meuse, or “big shrimps (black tiger) and scallops with a fine creamy tomato and tarragon sauce.”
Before coming to America, the Fraikins owned and operated restaurants and catering businesses south of Paris. Florence and Didier met nearly 25 years ago in Belgium.
Florence hopes to bring her history and passion to Craig through food.
“I cook with my heart and my French and Belgian heritage,” Florence said. “I want everyone to enjoy the taste of every item on the plate.”
Local land managers have proposed allowing the public to rent out Sarvis Cabin on the banks of the Yampa River just below Stagecoach Reservoir.