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Chez Fabrice: gourmet French cuisine PDF Print

 By Valeria Cerezo Mack
For the last few months I have had the idea of writing about places to visit at the Guatemala City, to make your stay more pleasant before going out to explore this exciting country.

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Valeria Cerezo Mack
 
This includes personal reviews of my favorite places to dine. I wish to send you a weekly insight of options for entertainment and dining. (Which I have visited first in order to recommend by experience) Guatemala has more options than fried chicken, which I have to admit is really good. Although being “third world country”, (I wonder which is the second), Guatemala has options of world class dinning and interesting spots to visit. 

After the zoo story, I decided to tell you about one of my favorite spots for dining.  If you and I my dear reader are in the same wavelength, we shall be searching for something not only to fill the tummy, but for something special.  

After all, when you go out to eat, you expect to find something that, one: you definitely cannot cook yourself at home and two: being pampered as a customer … plus, you know the saying… you are what you eat! Forgive me father, for I have sinned … I do like quarter pounders with cheese… but mostly I like to eat things that will pleasantly surprise me.  

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Chef Fabrice

There is this place, in Zone 10, not far from the hotels that I particularly enjoy and wish to share with you, Chez Fabrice, one of the 3 places in Guatemala that cook genuine French cuisine.

From the three, I say this one is the one that serves "gourmet”.
                                                                                          

Restaurant food can get really bad, basic and predictable. Is food made to sell, sell, sell?

The characteristic I find alluring here at CF, (and in other refined dining spots) is the fact that, under my impression, even being a business, the product (the food) has the uniqueness of being cooked for the chef to like, for the chef to be pleased, that automatically makes it stand out from the “average Joe” pasta or steak place that cooks to fill stomachs and not to share a pleasure. 

Well, back to more important issues: you know France has provided the world with a few really good things: great food, outstanding wines and French kisses, three main ingredients for a happy existence. 

French food has the characteristic that no matter what it is, you can eat every day since it is so good, but mostly, because it is usually, apart from the richness in flavor, light. It is so easy to eat and enjoy.  

Well, taking this into account, I have to move on to the next issue: No matter what you eat, it is up to the capability of the chef to present you quality: a rare gem these days when everything is disposable and mass made. You can learn technique, but … you cannot learn good taste, this comes with you as your finger prints when you are born.

Fabrice’s taste for food is like that, very precise and refined. Fabrice has a long history as chef for large five start hotels around the world plus other fine dining spots mainly in France. Image 

All this story started very simple …  have overheard in many conversations that in Guatemala there are no “ nice” places to eat … that you cannot find anything “different”, or “special” to eat.

 Guatemala has options, although there’s only few, of fine dining. Chez Fabrice is one of my favorites for two reasons: one, the obvious, food is fantastic. And two, as soon as you walk in, you feel … good, you feel welcome.  There is a small bar area, with a small and cozy backyard where you can enjoy a good cocktail before dinner.

After all, who is in a rush? I like to take my time to eat and drink.  When you go out for a meal, my motto is, you should enjoy it thoroughly. I comment on this since atmosphere is the complement of a good meal.

Atmosphere can ruin a great meal if it’s not nice.  The environment around you should not be pretentious and overloaded; here, you will find a sober, tasteful and pleasant location that does not distract you from the most important things: the food and the company. 

Fabrice or his wife Claudia will most likely come to greet you at your table and personally, make sure you are satisfied with your meal and drinks. They are an absolutely charming couple.  

All the waiters will make sure your table is taken care of and the drinks are fresh. (yes! there are places here with competent waiters! Hooray!) There is a quite nice selection of wines from France, DUH!, Chile, Spain, Argentina, South Africa … I might be missing another… but in any case, you check it out.  

Back to the food… While sipping on my wine I was asking the chef, Fabrice, how he would define the food in his restaurant and he said something interesting, “I use world ingredients and follow a French procedure for preparation.” One of the most accurate answers I have heard to be honest … 

So I asked him, would this qualify as fusion? He said yes, in some cases, but he remains faithful to French taste and though he likes to innovate using fresh product from the market,  he emphasizes that you must be very prudent in this process.

I like that word, prudence. Is a synonym of wisdom. He was born close to Monte Carlo and Italy, so he has a preference for provencial flavors which he defined like this: they taste like the sun, they taste fresh like the ocean. Olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary and tomatoes add the finishing warm touch.

That’s why you might find hints and traces of French –Italian influence in many dishes; the place where his heart comes from. Also, he has specials every day.  Last time I was there I was lucky to find deer pate and another dish (I don’t remember the name) which was made with lamb and eggplants.

This second one, had a lovely sauce that reminded me of lasagna sauce, but of course it wasn’t.  The ingredients blend in such a way, I kid you not and I might sound exaggerated, but it was masterful; they both were. In my humble opinion, ingredients should never hide or mask the taste of the main one, but enhance it; bring out the best in it once prepared.

The seasoning and garnish on the dish should smooth down the edges of the different flavors and bring them out gently until they show in all their magnificence. Such was the case of the deer pate for example.  

At Fabrice’s, always ask your waiter, or better yet, ask Fabrice himself, about the daily special or the chef’s suggestion, which is mostly based on the season’s best representative ingredient, I promise you will not regret it. My salutes to this wonderful chef, It does take a skill to handle the delicate world of flavor. 

According to the chef, the sauces are the most important, along with the way you cut the meat, cooking time and procedure. Which he says has to be nothing less than … perfect. Main accompaniments that are used in the Bistro’s cuisine are fresh, home made pasta, fresh home made mashed potatoes, Ratatouille, spinach in butter, potato casserole with “panceta” (pork belly, bacon), Risotto and cheeses. 

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Tuna with sauté gnocchi

The menu is not a very large one, but certainly well picked out. My favorite main course is the tuna: A big chunk of fresh tuna in a lovely capers sauce (now I know what he meant about the sauces). The sauce in the tuna is very light and tangy, but never masking the meat.

The garnish is sauté gnocchi with olive oil, herbs, pesto and other ingredients, flambéed with vodka. Sounds complicated and elaborated, but the art is that it will never show up; it boils down (literally) to a very delicate dish where nothing is overdone or out of place.  Every bite will reveal notes of aromatic herbs, tender consistency and silky sauces.  I’m starting to lick my whiskers here …  

Another main dish I really enjoy is the tenderloin with olives and potatoes with the three special sauces from the chef …  hey, if it says three sauces somewhere in the menu, order it.  Portions are generous, so make sure to have plenty of room in that tummy.  

Right before dinner you won’t regret asking for the cheese platter. A nice combination of pretty darn good cheeses and garnish that go fantastic with cocktails and conversation.  Along with your first drink you will get a nice little complementary appetizer such as a chicken mousse that will leave you craving for more. Either to celebrate a special occasion or should I say, create one, this restaurant would be my first suggestion for a nice intimate dinner.  

There is no strict dress code, a pair of jeans and a nice top should do it. Mostly what you will need is appetite and crave for fine dinning.

Price range for a main course is between Q.85.00 for a fine Risotto up to Q.160.00 for a nice shrimp brochette or a lovely New York steak. Appetizers, go from Q60 to Q70 (enough to share) for a nice salmon, carpaccio or a fantastic chicken salad.  

Soups have a set price of Q48.00 (get the onion soup with gruyere cheese), it’s superb, plus other quick three course menus that include dessert for 155Q. cabernet sauvignon, je ne se qui, petite fromage monsieur avec merci…    which means, I don’t know how to speak French but the food rules!!!! 

Coming from a spoiled palate, yours truly, V. 

Chez Fabrice is located at 3 Ave. 10-44 Zone 10, Guatemala City. Phone: 2331-7287.

 
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