Where: 8293 Main St., Ellicott City.
Hours: Open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 5 p.m to 9:30 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Credit Cards: AE, MC, V.
Features: French cuisine.
Non-smoking section: Four of the five dining rooms are for non-smokers.
*** Tersiguel's is a homecoming for Fernand Tersiguel -- in more ways than one.
With this new restaurant, he returns to the town that knew and loved his Chez Fernand before its relocation to downtown Baltimore. And the place he's chosen for his new venture couldn't be more home-like.
Tersiguel's is a beautifully restored white house at the top of Main Street, with welcoming old-fashioned lamps at the front door, white lace curtains at the windows, and a cluster of cozy dining rooms, each with a different theme relating to the family and its homeland. We dined in a room decorated with pictures of Bretagne, and the front hall proudly displays portraits of several generations of Tersiguels dressed in their wedding finery.
The management is a family affair, too; chef Michel Tersiguel, the restaurateur's son, has remained at Chez Fernand (now under new ownership), but Fernand himself is here greeting customers, and his wife Odette oversees the kitchen.
The menu, while not as varied or posh as Chez Fernand's, concentrates on traditional country French food, with ample portions and bold, assertive flavors. It is gourmet dining without the gourmet attitude, and shouldn't intimidate even good ol' boys.
We began with a seafood appetizer for two, featuring stuffed clams, cheese-filled stuffed mushrooms, scallops and shrimp, lightly sauteed in butter and garlic. The dish was simple, fresh and flavorful, but came with a sticker-shock price of $15.90. Specials are recited without prices, and in these intimate rooms you have to listen to the spiel over and over and over. . . .
Vichyssoise ($3.25), a cold soup, was perhaps not the most orthodox choice for a November night, but I was glad I ordered it. The white-velvet soup, flavored with potatoes and leek but tasting mostly of fresh cream, was quietly superb.
The large and abundant shrimp in the Crevettes Provencal bTC ($16.95) were sauced not with fresh tomato -- probably impossible at this time of the year, anyway -- but with a dark, spiced tomato sauce that seemed to owe a lot to Southern Italy. Much more intriguing was the sauce that accompanied my friend's duck ($18.95); incorporating Beaujolais, olives and peppercorns, this unique sauce had bite, but invited us to come back for more. Our waiter admired how well both of us managed to clean our plates.
If you are tempted to skip dessert, consider this: Tersiguel's has its own pastry chef. The creme brulee is the most sophisticated custard around, and the chocolate cake is the closest you can come to heaven without dying.