La Belle Helene executive chef Michael Rouleau is finalizing menu plans for that roughly 7,000-square-foot restaurant at 300 South Tryon.
Rouleau shared a peek inside the menu this week and talked about his inspiration. His culinary training — including a project where he dreamed up his own French brasserie — and experience at top-notch restaurants has prepared him for this step.
“French cuisine was always the base of everything,” Rouleau says. “This is something that I’ve been in love with my whole life.”
The brasserie is targeting a mid-summer soft opening.
That venture will be operated by Starr Catering Group, which also operated Parliament Coffee in the same building.
Starr is part of the Elior North America umbrella — also housed at 300 South Tryon.
Rouleau traveled to Paris to train with Ducasse Conseil in preparation for La Belle Helene’s opening. Ducasse is designing La Belle Helene’s floor plan, menu and will create its overall look and feel.
Rouleau says to expect a traditional bistro menu but an expanded selection along with other French-based cuisine, such as simple steak and frites and signature desserts.
“It’s very, very relatable,” he says.
Dishes will include Poulet Roti served with roasted baby potatoes with rosemary and garlic and roasted duck breast a l’orange with turnips.
Soups such as onion soup gratinée and Salade Lyonnaise with frisée, poached free-range egg and country bacon will be on the menu.
“There’s nothing to hide behind with this food,” he says. “It’s got to be cooked perfectly.”
His personal favorite dish is the steak tartare, but he expects the restaurant favorite will be food prepared with the rotisserie oven — chicken, lamb or roasted pig.
Seasonally based dishes will also be a fixture, he says.
The 166-seat restaurant aims to cater to families as well as business clientele with four private dining spaces. Guests should expect a casual and relaxed environment with impeccable service.
Adam Williams with Legacy Real Estate Advisors represented the landlord.