Downtown bistro brings unique french cuisine to Knoxville

Coffee and Chocolate Bistro opened in May 2013.
Ryan McGill/TNJN

 C&C Bistro opened in May 2013 off Clinch Ave in Downtown Knoxville. The restaurant brings a uniqueness that some say was long needed.

 “I walked in thinking something seemed different,” said Caroline McGinnis, a woman eating at C&C Bistro. “I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed everything.”

C&C Bistro is the sister restaurant to Coffee and Chocolate located near Market Square.

Sharif Harb, the owner of C&C, hopes his new location will have the same charm his cafe seems to bring.

“A lot of people want to get away from the large crowds of Market Square,” Harb said. “That’s what I offer. I offer a place away from the large crowds and the long lines. That’s the whole view I wanted – relaxing.”

His new location offers a menu filled with items found in France, but not generally in Knoxville.

“One-hundred percent of the items are made in-house,” Harb said. “From the Rillette, the chocolates, the braised chicken and white wine, the seafood pasta, it’s all scratch. Even the brioche bread for the Brioche French Toast. It’s all from scratch.”

“My intention was to open a restaurant that was simply off the beaten path, that offered some sandwiches and cheese plates, but the chef is so far advanced from that,” Harb said.

Chef David hard at work at C&C Bistro.
Chef David hard at work at C&C Bistro.
Ryan McGill/TNJN

Not just the cuisine has an authentic French theme, but the chef, David Franchuk, actually trained in France for three years.

“It turned out he was brilliant,” Harb said. “I thought it would be a shame not to feature his talent. That’s why we decided to use French cuisine instead of traditional sandwiches.”

Producing items on C&C Bistro’s menu is a time consuming, delicate process, which Harb and Franchuk take pride in.

“The chef will be here for 70 hours a week or more, preparing food for a five-hour dinner service,” Harb said.

They go as far as to pair each item with a wine and chocolate.

“A tremendous amount of thought is put into each item,” Harb said. “What we’re going to have on the menu, what we’re taking off, even what pairs well with what. It takes a long time to figure all that out. The last thing you want to do is serve something that’s unfitting towards the atmosphere.”

The care and thought that goes into each dish can be seen here. The chef explains his process of preparing an appetizer, a seemingly effortless item on the menu that takes multiple days to prepare.

The great, distinct seasons of Knoxville allows the chef to experiment with new dishes that compliment the weather outside.

A gentleman waits as his wine is poured.
A gentleman waits as his wine is poured.
Ryan McGill/TNJN

“We’re very seasonal. We enjoy featuring items that are in season at the time,” Harb said.

Behind all this amazing care for detail, tradition and classic cuisine sits an owner whose love for what he does shows through.

Harb doesn’t seem to take the typical routes in life. After getting a degree in an unrelated field, Harb went to the The Chocolate Academy in Chicago to learn how to make chocolates.

“I thought it looked fun and it turns out that is was,” Harb said.

He opened the Vegan Baking Company, a wholesale business that featured vegan desserts in a time and place veganism hadn’t yet truly taken off.

Later opening Coffee and Chocolate and now C&C Bistro, Harb seems to constantly be inventive and interested in bringing new choices for his local community.

Scratch made Brioche French Toast with blackberry sauce and whipped cream.
Scratch made Brioche French Toast with blackberry sauce and whipped cream.
Ryan McGill/TNJN

His passion and care doesn’t go unnoticed. Joshua Beard, a new employee for Harb said Harb was the best boss he had ever worked for. That same sentiment seems to be shared between all his employees and customers.

When Harb was asked if there was something he could tell each of his customers, he said it would have to be, “Thank You.”

Edited by Jessica Carr