I recently finished reading “The Apprentice,” Jacques Pépin’s stunning autobiography. Among other important lessons he imparts in the novel, I loved how the classically trained Frenchman wrote without fear or arrogance about accepting an American style of dining. Food that tastes good is the objective, rather than strictly following scripted French techniques. Fussing over guests can be overwhelming for them, as well as for the host, but casual American service actually serves to put everyone more at ease.
So it was fitting that just days after putting the book down, I found myself having dinner at The Workshop by Latitude on Roncesvalles. Composed cheese plates are one of the restaurant’s core concepts. Accompanied by charcuterie and a glass of wine (or four — the wine list changes every couple of weeks, so you’ll always have a great variety), Workshop can feel very French and simply refined. But, like Pépin would recommend, the atmosphere is like dining in the home of an old friend. Service is knowledgeable but familiar. The music is soft (typically they play a lot of Beatles) and the candlelit romance of it all makes the place a perfect date or girls night spot. Whatever the occasion, you’re likely to lounge for hours, as I did. Though you may be luckier with the weather and get to enjoy their large, charming back patio. In all, Workshop is host to the kind of food and atmosphere that spurs deep conversation and the sharing of secrets.