Brush up on your French, Los Gatos, because Chez Phillipe will soon enter its soft opening phase. The new French bistro should be open by June 21 for lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch.
“I want this concept to be authentic French,” says chef/owner Phillip Leroy, a native of France and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, who lived in Palo Alto for 30 years. There, he opened several restaurants, including Pastis and La Boheme, before moving to Los Gatos five years ago. “Living in Palo Alto, we thought it was the best. But then we came to Los Gatos, and I thought, ‘This is where I belong.’”
He and his partner Deena had been looking for the right spot in downtown Los Gatos to open a restaurant that focused on classic French food. In 2021, while walking their son’s dog, they noticed a sublease notice at The Maid’s Quarters adjacent to the Jennifer Croll Little Black Dress Shop. Et voila!
Although it’s been a bit of work to gut and remodel two spaces that had not been touched in decades, he’s really pleased with the results. The decor is light blue and airy, with a French country cottage feel.
“We want guests to feel like they are walking into our home and not into a restaurant,” says Leroy. “The ambiance is designed specifically to feel as if you have accepted a personal invitation to dine at our house. It will be very informal, with rustic tables and classic white plates. There will be a blackboard with specials—very French.”
Leroy is particularly excited about the big courtyard out back that used to be part of The Maid’s Quarters. “It’s covered with grapevines and is so cool!”
He praises the town of Los Gatos for adopting the parklet concept early on in the pandemic, and is thrilled to have his own outdoor dining space going in out front.
As for the menu, expect classics like coq au vin, moules frites, steak tartare and escargot. He’ll serve salmon, even though that’s not big in France.
“People in Los Gatos love their salmon,” he notes. “I want to add things like monkfish—maybe monkfish meuniere. I love calf’s liver, but we will see what the audience wants.”
Asked if he will serve rabbit, he laughs, recalling the reaction he got when he served lapin on Easter at La Boheme in Palo Alto. His humor was lost on his customers.
The wine list will be completely French, and will offer 12 well-priced wines by the glass. They do not have a full liquor license.
“Don’t ask about Sancerre,” he says of the wine appellation from the Loire Valley. “French people are not so fond of it. This is an American thing. But we will have Chablis; it’s perfect with moules frites.”
Guests will enjoy fresh-baked French bread from a source in San Francisco. Leroy describes it as so light and airy that you have to eat the whole thing right away. Twist our arm.
The menu will include different kinds of paté, charcuterie and exclusively French cheeses. What, no Sonoma or Monterey selections? Non.
“This gig is French all the way! From A to Z!” says Leroy. “We’ll have three different kinds of French imported cheeses weekly.”
Save room for the tarte tatin; he promises it’s epic.
On the brunch menu will be fresh-baked croissants and pastries, as well as French toast, a variety of Benedicts, including duck confit, plus Croques Monsieur et Madame, and both sweet and savory crêpes.
What about Champagne? “It is not my thing,” Leroy says. “But I do like Veuve Cliquot; that’s my go-to, even though my wine friends think it is gauche.”
Chez Philippe, located at at 34 N. Santa Cruz Ave., will be open for lunch Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with brunch from 9 a.m. -2:30 p.m. on weekends and dinner Tuesday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m., and Friday-Saturday, 5-9:30 p.m.
Reservations are suggested to 408-442-5353. For more information, visit www.chezphilippelosgatos.com.