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BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT Phoenix 2005 - Mes Amis Bistro and Bar

What makes a great French meal? Start off with coquilles St. Jacques as an appetizer, along with escargots in a puff pastry à la Normande. Follow with onion soup. A main course of calves' liver with potatoes, coq au vin, or a plate of fat frogs' legs smothered in a garlic butter-Pernod sauce. Wash it back with a bottle of Bordeaux. And end it all with a chocolate soufflé or a plate of cream-filled profiteroles covered in chocolate sauce.

Oh, and very important: Make sure you have all of the above at George Venezia's Mes Amis Bistro and Bar. Owner Venezia hails from the old country. And though he has lived in the Valley for several years and run many a bistro here, he still retains that Gallic bonhomie that is the true hallmark of his countrymen. Venezia's presence, his boisterous singing, and hobnobbing with guests are emblematic of how un-stuffy an evening at a French restaurant can be. And his Provençal-style menu is as accessible as the man himself, whom you'll often find near the bar, in jeans, entertaining everyone with a song. Go, but save some frogs' legs for us.

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