By Peter Jovanovich

When the American “brunch” comes to mind, one often thinks of doughy bagels, weak coffee, and watery Bloody Mary’s.

<Vive la France!> La Panetière, Rye’s noble French restaurant has come to the rescue with a Sunday brunch menu. Owner Jacques Loupiac, who comes from a long line of bakers from the south of France, moved here in 1986 to open La Panetière – a taste of the French countryside in Rye. His new menu offers a number of culinary surprises and a uniquely French take on “le brunch.”

For an appetizer, one might start with a Duet of Red Beet Roots and Granny Smith Apples, Carpaccio of Sea Scallops, Fennel Seeds, or a Caramelized Cheese Soufflé, Parmesan Lace, before launching into the main course.

<Naturellement,> you can have an Omelet of Young Spinach and Button Mushrooms, but why not branch out at brunch? Try the Croquette of Maryland Crabmeat, the Sautéed Halibut Layered with a Basil Crust, the Sautéed Veal Medallions and Crayfish Tails (with a display of farm vegetables), or the Maine Lobster and Fideua of Assorted Seafood (that’s Catalan for a paella made with noodles).

And there’s more! Panetière desserts are world famous, or they should be. Save room for Napoleon of Arlette Biscuit, Raspberries, Chiboust Cream or the Hazelnut Dacquoise Chocorange, Butterscotch Sauce. (Hurrah for whomever writes the menus for Jacques: you can almost taste the words.)

A glass of wine or Prosecco is included in the $45 prix fixe menu, as is, if you insist, a Bloody Mary — strong enough to stand the celery stalk upright. À votre santé.

Brunch is served from 11:30-2. Reserve a seat by calling 967-8140.