The carmine-colored awning, illuminated by the Edison-style string lights that welcomed customers to Julien’s Cafe, now covers the restaurant’s next chapter. Recently opened Bord’ô offers wine tastings and a new tapas menu, but don’t be surprised to find some of your favorite Julien’s dishes in the spiffed up dining room, and the familiar faces of the Lacaze family behind the generously stocked bar.
You will most certainly see Julien, the son of Françoise and Jean Michel Lacaze and namesake of Julien’s Café. He has taken the lead roll in re-envisioning the space and managing the new restaurant with support from his family.
He implemented the shift from Julien’s Café to Bord’ô in a matter of days, transforming the cozy French bistro into his vision of a sleek wine and tapas bar, perhaps inspired by mix of his French ancestry and time spent in Spain. “The construction I did little by little on the two days that Julien’s was closed. I’d come in on those days and do the floors here and the floors there,” Julien says, motioning to the pristine wood running from the dining room to the bar. He continues, “We closed just for a couple days to do the painting and the real decorative take over.”
Artistically arranged slats of wine barrel wood accent saffron-shaded walls and stone planters made from roof tiles line the bar. Each white marble table is simply yet elegantly dressed with earth-toned runners and its own unique succulent. Though the decorative enhancements happened relatively quickly, other revisions required more time, lengthy family discussion or customer approval.
Choosing a name was, as Julien remembers with a laugh, “a constant battle” within the expansive Lacaze family. Julien continues, “It’s a pretty big family, between my sisters, significant others and everyone else. It was a lot of back and forth.” The family chose Bord’ô, a play on words, representing the space’s new focus on wine and a nod to his dad Jean Michel’s upbringing. “Bord’ô was my dad’s idea, something catchy and simple,” Julien says. Mom Francoise adds, “And the concept of doing a wine bar—Bord’ô is associated with that, and it’s where Jean Michel was born.”
Menu modifications took time and the blessing of longtime regulars. Loyal Julien’s Café customers were unwilling to see their favorite dishes disappear. Julien explains, “That was the first question from everybody, ‘are you going to have the same onion soup or not?’ So we kept a lot of the original things that they wanted.” Classics like the onion soup, Croque Madam, and Chicken Dulany are still available and still popular. But now, in addition, to favorites preserved from Julien’s Café, Bord’ô offers small plates to be enjoyed with their more geographically expansive wine list.
The tapas were inspired by Julien’s time spent running a beachside eatery in Costa Blanca, Spain. He recalls, “In Spain you have a lot of tapas oriented places. I always loved that style of eating dinner at ten or eleven o’clock at night and not necessarily having one main dish, but a bunch of different things.” And Bord’ô is not short on small plate selection. If you are feeling generous, fresh Foie Gras, nestled on top of sweet roasted apples and caramelized onions, is perfect to split with a glass, or two, of Virginia wine. The rich Foie Gras melts in your mouth almost instantly and is nicely contrasted by the slight crunch of the apples. Or dunk a crusty baguette into the Curry Steamed Mussels, flavored with basil sitting in a pool of spicy broth you won’t want to waste. The Carpaccio of Bresaolo is fun to share, too. The thinly sliced aged beef is dressed simply in oil and tastes wonderful with a sharp cocktail.
Spanish influence found its way into brunch as well. The Patata Bowl with Serrano, Fried Egg, Cheddar and Spicy Brava Sauce works nicely with an ice cold Bloody Mary.
With their various dining experiences, including the tasting menu with wine pairings, the small plate-centric happy hour and an expanded brunch menu, Bord’ô is certainly exciting and new. But it isn’t a total departure from Julien’s Café. The space is still warm, welcoming and focused on family. Françoise and Jean Michel still greet customers as friends, and many of them are. Julien’s sisters, Michelle, Natalie and Megan, frequently buzz in and out helping as they always have. Jessica, a veteran server, kindly makes recommendations from long-time chef Matt’s list of temptations. At Bord’ô, family is a part of everything they do. And as you enjoy their refined food and sincere hospitality, they’ll make sure you feel like family too.
Story and photos by Kaitlin Hill
This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue.