French Food with a Global Accent

Sisters bring culinary compatibility and talent to their Denver kitchen

Photography By Rachel Adams

LE FRENCH IN Belleview Station is a taste nary trip in Brazil, they discovered they were Kir Royale is a staple in international bars of France that has found a home in Colorado. Chef Rougui Dia, who at age 29 was the first African American woman to hold the title of executive chef at a restaurant that has received a Michelin star, Petrossian 144 in Paris, co-owns Le French with her sister, chef Aminata Dia.

Born in Senegal and raised outside of Paris in Neuily-Plaisance, the sisters learned traditional Senegalese and French cooking as well as dishes from a variety of other backgrounds from their mother, who discovered many of her recipes from their neighbors. Their father also played a role by taking them when they were young on early-morning market trips to find the freshest ingredients.

The Dia sisters built their careers separately. While Rougui Dia remained in Paris and was racking up accolades including the French National Medal of Honor, Aminata Dia came to the United States in 2000 with her husband and children. Aminata Dia started in San Francisco, eventually traveling to Denver and attending the Art Institute of Colorado (which has since closed). She then opened a catering business, AmiCuisine.

The sisters had always dreamed of being in business together and on a two-week culinary trip in Brazil, they discovered they were compatible in the kitchen and hatched their plan to open a restaurant. Le French opened in 2019, had to close its doors due to the pandemic in 2020, but reopened in the spring.

The decadent pastries that were a childhood favorite of the Dia sisters are now the highlight of Le French’s offerings, which include breakfast, lunch and dinner choices. Even the happy hour menu offers an opportunity to sample a small plate. The gourmet, casual-chic French bistro touts authentic modern Parisian cuisine with global influences and serves brunch on the weekends, indoors or al fresco. For those on the go, fresh salads, sandwiches, soups and baked goods can be carried away, boulangerie style.

The truly special dishes are on the dinner menu, including fromage, crepes, confit and of course, boeuf bourguignon. The buttery escargot are a rare find and will transport you to the Champs-Elysees. And speaking of authentic, do not skip the crispy frites.

The French are known for excellent libations, and the wine menu at Le French boasts six top Champagne selections. The cocktail menu is a bouquet of cognac, absinthe, St. Germain and crème de cassis alongside fresh juices, spices and wildflower “caviar.” The crisp, light flavor profile of the Kir Royale is a staple in international bars dating back to World War II. It’s named after Catholic priest Felix Kir, who helped 4,000 prisoners of war escape in Dijon, Burgundy. After Nazis confiscated Burgundy’s red wines, Kir began mixing black currant liqueur with Champagne to mimic the color of the beloved red wine and to keep spirits up. Another classic cocktail, the French 75, which was born of Prohibition, has been debated over the decades as to whether it should be made with cognac or gin. Le French settles the score by combining fresh lemon juice, sparkling wine and … gin. À votre sante’!

THE DETAILS

Le French
4901 S. Newport St.
Denver, CO 80237
lefrenchdenver.com

Danielle Yuthas is a Denver native whose byline has appeared in Franchising World magazine and Colorado publications. Yuthas took French classes in high school and college and is fluent in Champagne.

Categories: Sip & Savor