5Church team reopens La Belle Helene this weekend

5Church team reopens La Belle Helene this weekend
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La Belle Helene is now open with new, familiar owners.

Why it matters: The closure of La Belle Helene last spring was a sign of the challenging path ahead for Uptown amid the pandemic. With offices closed and corporate employees working from home, the diners were gone, and the restaurant closed permanently in October.

  • News of its acquisition in February signaled hope for a center city comeback.

What to expect: The 5th Street Group (5Church, Sophia’s Lounge) refreshed the interiors and added new menu items, but much of the French restaurant’s character remains the same.

  • Chef and partner Jamie Lynch, of Top Chef fame, will retain the French concept and add his own flare. “We are creating a menu steeped in classic French culinary tradition but with a modern sensibility,” he said in a press release.
  • Dishes include French classics like escargot, ratatouille and custom rotisserie chicken. “There is something super romantic about seeing and smelling the roasted meats that help sets the ambience of the room,” Lynch said.

Escargot

Background: Prior to opening 5Church in Charlotte, Lynch worked in a number of French kitchens in New York City like Le Cirque 2000, Café Boulud and Tocqueville in Union Square. He said he’s long wanted to open a traditional French restaurant in Charlotte.

Charlotte is notably deficient in the high-end French restaurant category since the closures of Aix en Provence, Le Cochon D’Or and La Belle. I’m excited to see the tide turning — or the rotisserie spit spinning, you could say.

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What’s next: The return of a street-level, upscale lunch and dinner restaurant like La Belle Helene is a good sign for Uptown’s recovery post-pandemic, but there’s still a long road ahead.

Here’s a look around the refreshed space:

The mirror mural in the bathroom is here to stay.

La Citron dessert looks just like a lemon. Inside there’s a sweet and citrus-y custard.

Boeuf Bourguignon ($38) — braised short ribs, red wine, carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, marble potatoes.

French onion soup, a classic. $14.

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