Voila in Skaneateles

Joelle's French Bistro has turned down the lights in Skaneateles

Can you keep a secret? It will be worth your while, as the latest restaurant to rock Skaneateles is the real deal. The much anticipated Joelle's French Bistro quietly opened quietly this month. It is located on that great street, Route 321 between Frietag's Farm Market and Heart and Hand Country Store.

Alain Castel is the maitre d' and his wife Joelle Mollinger is the chef. Their restaurant is reminiscent of the best restaurants dotting the French countryside, where couples split the duties of front and back of the house.

Alain and Joelle met in Manhattan at a restaurant called Pigal. One of their big connections beyond love at first sight is that they were both born in France, but raised in Africa. She lived in French Morocco, while Alain's father, a chef, opened the first French restaurant in Kenya. You will find a bit of Morocco laced into menu, which is classic and also fresh. She said this is perhaps the fifth kitchen she has opened in her lifetime including a restaurant called L'Amatuer in Paris.

There is a room for lounging with comfortable seating around a fireplace and a vast picture window that overlooks a patio and the countryside. The dining room is an intimate rectangle painted sage green with several windows draped handsomely, a wood floor and sparkling tableware.

Alain's staff sparkles too. Fresh faced young women he has trained to be knowledgable, attentive and professional, yet in a comfortable fashion. He is charming, as is the lovely Joelle whose passion for cooking is delivered on every plate.

The menu? Why don't you see for yourself? It is open right now Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Call for reservations 685-3063. Or swing by 4423 State Street Road, three miles outside the village on Route 321.

Joelle's hours of operation:

Tuesday to Thursday dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Friday and Saturday dinner 5:30 to 11 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday brunch/lunch noon to 4 p.m.

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