They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. For Andrew Garbarino, chef and partner of the Twisted Frenchman, it was staring at different light fixtures, eating from dozens of sets of silverware, and sitting in countless chairs before he could have his dream restaurant.
The popular East Liberty eatery announced in March that they were moving around the corner, and expanding into two separate restaurants (with two separate kitchens) under the same roof.
Previously located on Highland Avenue, the Twisted Frenchman now occupies the former Royal York Auction Gallery on Baum Boulevard. Built in 1895, the building was previously home to a Hudson car dealership.
At street level is Bar Frenchman, a casual French brasserie and cocktail bar. The upstairs will be the dining room for the more formal Twisted Frenchman restaurant. The Twisted Frenchman will be tasting menu only, with three, eight and 14 course options available at any time.
Bar Frenchman is now open Monday through Saturday, and the Twisted Frenchman plans to begin service in early October.
Although Bar Frenchman will be more informal than the Twisted Frenchman, the same level of thought and care is still served with every dish.
“My biggest challenge downstairs was uncomplicating things,” laughs Garbarino. “I have never had to be uncomplicated. I am always like, ‘How can I set something on fire in the middle of the table? How do I engulf something in a scent?’ That won’t work for Bar Frenchman. It is a modern bistro.”
Bar Frenchman’s menu currently includes dishes like coq au vin, smoked duck, ratatouille, and escargot and grits. There is also an entire chilled seafood bar, with options like oysters, lobster, and prawns.
However, because it’s still Garbarino, dishes are never as simple as just “coq au vin.” Garbarino’s dish is prepared with imported French roosters that have been marinated in red wine for 24 hours, and then braised for an additional eight hours.
To further elevate the experience, guests can choose to order freshly-grated white or black truffles over their dish.
“I wanted to take things that were inaccessible, or for special occasions, and make them available on a daily basis,” says Garbarino.
Being named Bar Frenchman, guests shouldn’t be surprised that the space is also offering an innovative drink menu.
“Our cocktail manager, Greta, is working on a modernist cocktail menu. She is working to reinvent some of the classics, serving drinks people recognize, but with her own twist. Everything will be a little unique.”
At the time of print, Bar Frenchman is still waiting for their liquor license to transfer from their previous location. Because of this, Garbarino is paying for the cocktails out of pocket, and there is no corkage fee for those who bring their own wine.
Bar Frenchman is now open on Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Garbarino also notes that the menu is extremely vegetarian and gluten-free friendly.
“People should expect rich comfort food. I want people to feel like they are in their French Grandma’s kitchen,” says Garbarino.
Bar Frenchman (5925 Baum Boulevard)