You know Bacquet's Restaurant in Eagle is a French eatery the moment you step up to the courtyard-style patio. It just looks French, with its vines, flowers and gurgling fountain. Inside, the decor continues, out-Frenching the courtyard by miles—there are colorful paintings and photos crowded into every square inch of wall space; the tables, linens and cutlery are just so, and a rainbow of roses wink and curtsy from their crystal vases.
Then, you meet the owners, Franck and Michele Bacquet. He is so French you'll wish you had subtitles for the chat. She translates. They smile and welcome you. And their "meet cute" story, which sounds like it could be featured in a Wes Anderson film, is nothing if not French.
"We were set up on a blind date," said Michele, "on the day I was learning how to butcher a lamb."
The story goes that Michele had been renting a house in the country and the owners had asked if she could take care of the resident donkeys. So, the how-to-butcher tutorial was payment for a year's worth of donkey duty.
"I rode my bicycle over ... wearing my pink apron," Michele said, "and there was Franck."
After the requisite whirlwind courtship, they got married and today live on a five-acre farm with chickens, horses, three dogs and, yes, a lamb or two.
That's just the backstory, and only one of a number of fantastical tales you might have the privilege of hearing if you decide to stop in. The couple have recently launched the restaurant venture, opening their doors to a throng of fans who have followed this chef—and the dishes he prepares, and the stories, laughter and fun he spins—for years.
Before opening the restaurant in June, Franck was chef of a handful of other restaurants in the Treasure Valley. In Boise, he began in a wine shop/French bistro, Bacquet's, tucked away on the lower level of Boise Towne Square mall, just outside of Macy's.
Le Coq Rouge, a French brasserie, was a delightful surprise nestled in a strip mall along Locust Grove Road. After that venture, Franck did a stint as chef at Angell's at Ninth and Main streets in Boise (now closed) and was the premier chef at Le Coq d'Or at Chateau des Fleurs in Eagle.
The vibe at Bacquet's is, not surprisingly, European, heavy on the French side of things. There is a working garden in the courtyard patio with grafted fruit trees including four varieties of apples, plus cherry tomatoes, leeks, dill, sweet corn, strawberries and oregano. Many of the paintings on the walls inside were painted by Franck, and others came from the couple's personal collection.
"It's all from our house for the most part," Michele said. "There are a lot of nails on the wall at home."
The menu, which Franck said he changes every five to six weeks, features mostly French dishes, such as boeuf forestier (ribeye braised with mushroom bacon sauce, flambed with brandy—"don't ask me to cook your steak well done"), Saint Jacques au Safran (scallops baked in their own shells in saffron sauce) and "escargot from my grandmother."
"We sell so much escargot it's mind-blowing. Almost every table orders it," Michele said.
In addition to the food and the visual ambience, the restaurant also features live music nightly from a variety of local artists like Sally Tibbs, Kevin Kirk and Steve Eaton.
Michele and Franck have taken their relationship from blind-date beginnings to a symbiotic working partnership. She does the books and keeps things ship-shape (she once was a corporate controller and was also in the military) and handles the meet-and-greet in the front of the house—"I get to be the social butterfly," Michele said with a smile. And Franck? Well, he does what he does—and loves—best: He cooks.
Local residents Don Walcher and Kay Brill have frequented the place "at least twice a week" since it opened, Walcher said, adding, "The food—it's just exquisite."
"Sitting here, we could be in Paris," Brill said. "The food is so authentic. ... We've talked to so many people about this place."
Michele said that while people do not have to make a reservation, it might be wise.
"There's been many nights we haven't been able to accommodate everyone. We're already hoping to expand next door for private parties," she said.
"I have a big following from before," Franck said. "Everybody is so excited; it's crazy."
The restaurant, the Bacquets said, is a combination of all of Franck's previous ventures, with a definite twist. "Now, it's the way we want, the way we feel. It's familiar; you feel good," said Franck.
"This restaurant? It's not just an idea—it's who we are," said Michele. "This is our living room."