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Matter of Taste: Forêt FLG brings easy French to Flagstaff

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Nov 2021 Foret FLG 01 location in historic Anderson Feed Bldg.jpg

Forêt FLG is located in the historic Anderson Feed Building off Beaver Street. 

Consider French cuisine — rich butter and cream seduces us. 

Yet, one can’t help but admire the trim figures of the fashionable French, who dine on it. It might seem contradictory until we examine their habits.

First, there is the lack of snacks. Grazing like un lapin (a rabbit) is discouraged, even for children, and eating while moving — grabbing a burger at a drive-through and the theatrics to pull off the consumption — is strictly non non. Also, though flaky croissants beckon, they are not a daily indulgence.

The larger meal is lunch, enjoyed at a leisurely pace, balanced with a light, late supper. Occasional fine dining is savored in courses with companionable lingering, and portions are half of America’s platters. Desserts contain has less sugar — perhaps even yogurt or cheese — but fats fulfill the satiation factor and flavor. So, while the French invented culinary techniques, such as poaching, flambéing, and braising, their appreciative habits are as understated and tailored as the Dior label.

Such are the aims of Forêt FLG’s owner-chef, Sam Greenhalgh. Free-range eggs, European butter and 18-month-cured jambon are the French framework of his recipes.

“There is room in this town to offer a healthy, fresh, bright breakfast,” he said, adding, “Diners can finish their portion and feel satisfied, not need a nap.”

His business partner and mother, Natasha Greenhalgh, always knew they would open something together. Located in the former Stronghold Coffee Café just off Beaver Street, the space caters to breakfast and lunch. Greenhalgh was welcomed by the neighborly competition, who appreciate another choice for eggs and coffee.

Refreshing the café in the historic Anderson Feed Building was a family affair. Greenhalgh’s uncle and father contributed long days, muscle and woodshop skills for a soft opening in early August. Preserving the character with painted concrete flooring, butcher block counters, art and greenery provide a pared back, light-filled locale. Smooth, upbeat vocals welcome guests.

Nov 2021 Foret FLG 04 Matcha Soda Jambon Beurre Baguette.jpg

The matcha soda and the jambon beurre baguette at Forêt FLG.

“We don’t compromise on quality, but we won’t outprice locals,” Greenhalgh said. “A college student can come in a get a burrito and coffee without breaking the bank.”

Greenhalgh earned his kitchen cred at East Valley Institute of Technology, where instructors helped him secure practical experience at Noca under Chris Curtiss. Over time, he has done every job from dishwasher to line cook to front of house — everything, but barista. So, sister Maddie Greenhalgh moved to Flagstaff to fill that role and operate the savvy equipment acquired in the transition.

The coffee program relies on Portland’s Rose Line, whose advisory rep fine-tuned the set-up to create flawless products. The options are streamlined, but any specialty is available upon request. Two cool standouts include flash ice coffee — brewed with half the usual water and shocked with ice for a softer, better flavor — and affogato — coffee combined with Pizzicletta’s olive oil gelato. Like Forêt’s lattes, it is shaken for a silky, airy texture. The ceremonial-grade matcha drinks appeal in vivid green with round sweetness.

Nov 2021 Foret FLG 11 Handwritten Recipes.jpg

Handwritten recipes at Forêt FLG.

Local tipples, like Stoic Cider and Mother Road’s Tower Station beer, plus Modern Times and natural wines offer simple choices alongside four cocktails:  bloody Mary, greyhound, mimosa and spritz.

Greenhalgh suffered health issues redeemed by a vegan lifestyle, which he implements thoughtfully throughout the food offerings. Most dishes can build on their vegan bases, such as the grain salad. Faro, spicy greens, tart cherries and Marcona almonds are dressed with Negroni-inspired Campari vinaigrette, played up with honey and sweet vermouth. The whole is scattered with puffed amaranth for toasty roastiness. Smoked salmon makes a fabulous addition.

The crispy rice bowl benefits from pistachio pesto — adding a cheesy vibe without animal products — avocado and tomato plus a fried egg or tofu.

Nov 2021 Foret FLG 07 Omelette au Fromage Stoic Cider.jpg

The omlette au fromage at Forêt FLG features light, folded, golden layers of egg alongside cheese and snipped chives. It's served with sweet, compact leaves of Little Gem lettuce and signature dressing.

Hunger and long weekends, working alongside his father drove the creation of the jambon beurre baguette. Classic, premium elements on a handmade baguette beg for a checkered tablecloth.

Forêt’s omelet is telltale classic cooking (see the film The Hundred-Foot Journey) with its light, folded, golden layers, runny inside alongside cheese and snipped chives.

“In a French omelet, the eggs need to shine,” Greenhalgh suggested.

Both items are served with the sweet, compact leaves of Little Gem lettuce and signature dressing. Add roasted mushrooms for an umami upgrade.

The granola boasts pepitas, maple syrup-smoked chia and praline peanut proteins plus peaches, raspberries and lively mint leaves. Presented in a custom cherry bowl, it is paired with a chilled carafe of chamomile almond milk — beneficially beautiful.

Nov 2021 Foret FLG 16 Caneles de Bordeaux Latte.jpg

The canelés de Bordeaux is a tin-shaped treat that seems to channel crème brûlée with its caramelized sugar top and pudding center.

Bakery choices include chocolate chip cookies, croissants and glazed orange rolls, but go françias and delight in delicate mini Madeleines or canelés de Bordeaux. The tin-shaped treat channels crème brûlée in its caramelized sugar top and pudding center.

Lunch options expanded with a fried chicken sandwich and patty melt to address customer desires.

“Everyone is so excited — the feedback has been fantastic,” said Greenhalgh, “and the coffee is outstanding.”

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