BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Francophiles looking to indulge in French food and culture without the large city crowds can trade the Arc de Triomphe for the iconic Sunnyside Arch and celebrate Bastille weekend (July 11-12) in the heart of Queens.
Several Queens restaurants are holding early celebrations of Bastille Day, the holiday marking the start of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789.
One such location is the Tournesol Bistro Francais (50-12 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City, off the Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave. 7 train station). Tournesol (French for “sunflower”) serves up French favorites like quiche Lorraine ($9), salade Nicoise ($12), brie panini with apples ($9.50) and croque monsieur ($9.50), a decadent grilled ham and cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce.
Adventurous eaters can try the escargots l’estragon ($9.50), a dish of sauteed snails in tarragon sauce. The magret de canard ($22) features succulent duck breast with celery puree in honey sauce.
Tournesol boasts an extensive wine list categorized by region in France. The Cotes de Provence Cuvee du Cep d’Or, a refreshing rose wine, is perfect for summer afternoons ($8/glass).
To celebrate Bastille Weekend, Tournesol will host a free petanque tournament on Saturday, July 11, from noon to 8 p.m. Petanque is similar to horseshoes but is played with metal “boules,” or balls.
Francophiles can also head over to Sunnyside and celebrate Bastille Day at the Bliss 46 Bistro (43-45 46th St. off the 46th St. and Bliss St. station). Bliss 46 was voted Best French Restaurant in Queens for 2015 by Courier readers in the Best of the Boro competition. The family-owned establishment is run by owner Deodoro Monge and his daughter, Melissa.
Bastille Weekend revelers will want to try their classic coq au vin ($15), a savory chicken stew with red wine, bacon and mashed potatoes, or the steak d’onglet ($19) with garlic butter, vegetables and fries.
Those seeking classic French crepes can find them at Cafe Triskell (33-04 36th Ave. in Astoria off the 36th Ave. N/Q station).
Founded in 2007 by chef, owner and Bretange native Phillipe Fallait, Cafe Triskell offers several varieties of both sweet and savory crepes. Standouts include the French aged goat cheese and herbs crepes ($9), banana with chocolate jam ($6) and the poached pear with homemade chocolate sauce, toasted almonds and whipped cream ($8).
The final stop on the Queens Bastille weekend journey is Aperitif Bistro (213-41 39th Ave. in Bayside). Black and gold pinstripe banquets and vintage globe lanterns give this Queens eatery a French flea market flair.
At Aperitif, patrons can indulge on filet mignon sliders ($14), steak tartare ($17) and prosciutto and figs with blue cheese and pears in a balsamic reduction ($7). Mascarpone crepes with fresh fruit ($16) provide a sweet finish to this French feast.