Le Refuge, the intimate French restaurant at 127 North Washington Street, is 20 years old and still preparing country cuisine just the way its customers want.
Jean Francois Chaufour has owned Le Refuge since the beginning in 1983. “I have always worked in restaurants,” Chaufour said. “First in France and then here in the United States. When I decided to open my own restaurant, Old Town Alexandria seemed like the perfect place and this location has been good for us.”
The restaurant's location is a perfect place for both neighborhood destination diners. “People come from the [surrounding] neighborhood and from other parts of the area,” Chaufour said. “They keep coming back because our menu is consistent.”
Consistently filled with fresh fish and vegetables. “We cook what is fresh and available in any given season,” Chaufour said. “We use fresh fish and fresh vegetables and make everything individually.”
Now, shad roe is in season. “It’s only available for about a month each year and we always serve it,” Chaufour said. “This year, the season has been a bit longer than usual because of the cold weather.”
Shad roe is a hard roe or female fish eggs. They are found in fresh water and shad roe dinners are a traditional rite of spring.
ACCORDING TO the American Shad Restoration in the Susquehanna River Watershed Project, “The American shad played an important part in the history of the United States. It is said that General George Washington’s troops subsisted on salted shad from the Delaware River during that long, cold Valley Forge winter in 1776…”
Shad roe will be available for another week or two and Le Refuge chef, Jean Claude Lelan, will prepare it for diners as long as it is available.