French restaurants are thin pickings in Santa Fe, and French restaurants that serve dinner are even thinner.


Soon-to-be-married couple Alain Jorand and Suzanne Eichler will go full-blown French with their Le Pommier, opening in some form on Bastille Day, the big holiday in France on July 14.


They won’t be fortifying the French offerings in Santa Fe proper, instead opening a bistro at La Tienda at Eldorado retail center, 7 Caliente Road. Le Pommier will be in the former La Plancha de Eldorado restaurant space.


“We want people to come here and feel like we’re going to spend two hours in the French countryside,” Eichler said. “It’s not about turning tables. If you want to sit on the patio with your dog, do it.”


Jorand is from Reims in the Champagne province northeast of Paris. He has owned French restaurants in Quebec; Florida; Buffalo, N.Y.; and the non-French Flying Fish Café in Aspen, Colo. He briefly was part of the Palace Restaurant ownership group in 2002 but hasn’t owned a restaurant since then.


“Then he met me,” Eichler said.


She is already using his name on the Alain and Suzanne Jorand business card even though the wedding isn’t until Sept. 18.


“The menu will be in French with English underneath,” Eichler said. “There will be frog legs and paté. It’s a very French menu. One of my favorites is the jambon beurre — baguette with ham and butter.”


There will also be steak frites, steak tartare and lamb stew curry and apples (le pommier translates to apple tree). And the unexpected beef on weck, a nod to the time Jorand lived in Buffalo.

Bouillabaisse and pot-au-feu will make guest appearances on the menu.


One menu item specifically reads Chef Alain’s Salade Niçoise. He said so often salade niçoise strays from the traditional recipe. Among the traditional ingredients are tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies or tuna, dressed with olive oil.


“If you go to Nice, this is what you are going to get,” Jorand said of his eponymous salad niçoise.


Le Pommier will open first for lunch and add dinner about a month later, Jorand said.


Jorand worked for 14 years at Peter Dent‘s Adobo Catering before taking three years off and now getting back into restaurants. He left France in 1976 and made his first stop in Quebec, where he owned La Chaumiere, north of Montreal.


He arrived in the U.S. in 1986, opening Restaurant St. Honoré, Brasserie St. Honoré and Café St. Honoré in Florida.


“I was going nuts,” Jorand recalled. “My blood pressure went up.”


He moved on to Buffalo, opened Restaurant Enchanté and was introduced to the beef on weck sandwich that now defies the very French flavor of Le Pommier’s menu.


While in Aspen, he heard about Palace Restaurant & Saloon being for sale in Santa Fe. He and two partners bought it from Lino Pertusini, who had owned the Palace for 20 years. Jorand stepped away a short while later but stayed in Santa Fe.


Why pick Eldorado for a French restaurant?


“We took a house in Eldorado in the past year,” Eichler said. “We have a little community of friends here already. We were looking to open a breakfast and lunch cafe, and this became available. This is a big place. We can’t just do a little cafe.”


Le Pommier will join the already-eclectic dining options at La Tienda, including Thai Bistro, Santa Fe Brewing Co. and Mami and Papi’s food truck.