Ooh La La! These 10 Local French Restaurants Are 'Tres Magnifique'
By Priscilla Blossom
Miami Local Expert
For many, French dining is considered to be "haute cuisine". Many master chefs were either trained in France or are highly knowledgeable about French cuisine and it's true that much of Western gastronomy has been profoundly influenced by it.
Miami, being the cultural hub of chefs and foodies in the southeast, holds its own by being the home of numerous French and French-inspired eateries and their purveyors.
While some may believe that French dining is reserved for those with deep pockets, that's not necessarily true. In the Grove, you can easily step into Le Bouchon du Grove and spend a mere $20 for a filling and flavorful meal.
Popular spots like La Sandwicherie also offer casual French cuisine for just a few dollars.
That being said, some of Miami's greatest French restaurants do come with a higher price tag--though totally worth it, in our opinion.
The Setai Grill, while not exclusively French, doles out some of the most delectable dishes this side of Paris, and Le Provencal will set you back a few depending on what you order. But again, completely worth every penny.
And then of course there's Palme d'Or, whose reputation as the place for French gourmet cuisine precedes it.
The name sums up the offerings quite nicely -- the atmosphere is pure diner, but the cuisine is pure gourmet. The French favorites are skillfully prepared but low-priced, including classic dishes such as buttery escargot, châteaubriand, loin of lamb in herb crust, and creamy seafood au gratin. At lunchtime, the vinaigrette-topped salads are a customer favorite, and the special listed on the blackboard is sure to please. Whether you're by yourself or with a crowd, you'll enjoy the atmosphere, which recreates a dining car experience from the 1950s. Excellent wines and desserts like the custard fruit tart make this a first-class dining experience without the high prices. (305-947-2255)
After a hard night of clubbing or bar-hopping, nothing's better than a hefty sandwich from this walk-up counter right off Collins Avenue. Crusty French bread is piled high with your choice of meats (from turkey and prosciutto to pate and smoked salmon), cheeses (fresh mozzarella, swiss, brie) and condiments (never skip the cornichons). If you need a veggie fix, opt for a salad, like the French Riviera (lettuce, tomatos, green and hot peppers, black olives, onions, cucumbers, cornichons, carrots, and egg); all are generous, fresh and tasty. Smoothies and frozen yogurt satisfy sweet-tooth urgings, and prices are more than affordable. Expect a line, though, because the place attracts a crowd all day long. (305-532-8934)
Le Bouchon Du Grove
Restaurant critics, Grove-dwellers, and first time visitors always agree about Le Bouchon Du Grove, the cozy bistro in the heart of Coconut Grove. the atmosphere is great, the food is superb,and the service is outstanding. The restaurant offers a casual atmosphere that is perfect for dining with friends, co-workers, or family members. The creative menu features a wide array of great selections, always made from the highest quality ingredients. Be sure to ask your server about daily specials and other notable menu selections. The staff at Le Bouchon Du Grove are friendly and professional and will ensure that your dining experience is a pleasant one. (3054486060)
La Gloutonnerie Vintage Kitchen is the perfect place for patrons to experience rustic French home cooking in the heart of Miami Beach. Guests can enjoy dining al-fresco on the restaurant's gorgeous patio or inside in the cozy, French-vintage inspired dining room. The menu has an array of delicious French fair with an assortment of seafood, poultry and meat options that speak to any pallet. Compliment your meal with one of La Gloutonnerie's signature cocktails or a glass of wine. But save some room for dessert. Patrons can enjoy a traditional Black Forest Cake or opt for a Warm Apple Tart with vanilla ice cream and salty caramel sauce. Bon appétit! ((305) 503-3811)
Cena by Michy
This snug little French-Med charmer on Biscayne is owned by Michelle Bernstein (she formerly headed Azul at the Mandarin Oriental). The space itself sports a certain sense of whimsey -- the bold blue and orange hues of the walls, the Capiz-shell chandeliers, the kicky orange banquettes, and the assorted chairs, many of which look like they came from thrift stores or yard sales. The cuisine, meanwhile, reflects Bernstein's rich background, from her classical French training to her affinity for Southern, Latin, Italian and even Asian nuances. As you might expect, the results are simply magical. The place sits around 60, so reservations are a must. (305-759-2001)
Pascal's on Ponce
Nouvelle French cuisine served in a cozy, unpretentious setting -- this is the forte of chef-owner Pascal Oudin's friendly little eatery, where Coral Gables sophisticates scramble to secure one of the handful of tables or, if nothing else, a stool at the small bar area. While decor may not dazzle, the menu sure will, especially when one factors in such delightful dishes as lobster bisque, crispy sea bass in a red wine reduction, veal rib-eye with endive, and steamed salmon with shrimp and scallops. Of course, desserts at such a place are always in order, and Pascal's clafoutis with fresh, dark cherries is nothing short of divine. Reservations are suggested, especially on the weekends. (305-444-2024)
db Bistro Moderne
Located within the JW Marriott Marquis in Downtown Miami, db Bistro can only be described as a modern take on the classic French bistro. The restaurant is named after famed French Chef Daniel Boulud, whose career has led him to open restaurants the world over, from Vegas and Toronto to London and Singapore. Aside from its breathtaking interiors, db Bistro also specializes in cuisine that will leave you speechless--in a good way, because you won't be able to stop eating once you taste how amazing it is. Start your meal with an alsatian tarte flambe (the French answer to pizza), sink your teeth into their steak frites or coq au vin, indulge with a scoop of toasted marshmallow ice cream, and wash it all down with any of their exceptional wines. ((305) 421-8800)
For a pleasing midday meal with all-out French flair, this pleasant bistro in Coral Gables fits the bill. Le Provencal has brought delicious southern French cuisine to diners since 1988, but moved to its current location in 2009. Meet friends or business associates for the fixed price lunch, which offers three fabulous courses for one reasonable price. The authentic French soups are a specialty, and fresh seafood is frequently featured as a special. Look for the fresh catch prepared with leeks, tomato, and garlic-infused olive oil. Exceptional wines and a romantic dining room sweep you away to the Champs-Elysees. Business casual attire. (305-448-8984)
The Setai Grill
Take a luxury hotel known for its Asian glam (The Setai); a French executive chef (Executive Chef Mathias Gervais, along with Chef de Cuisine Thomas Griese); a lauded Italian-American butcher family (Pat LaFrieda & Son) and Latino and Russian purveyors (Marky's International Food Emporium, Cinco Jotas, Fernando Pensato), and you have The Setai Grill, open since December 2012. The treats begin when you're seated with a glass of rose Champagne, a loaf of brioche and a plate of prosciutto di San Daniele. They continue when you order items like langoustine encased in papillote to a 30-day prime aged strip sirloin carved table-side by eminently efficient Restaurant Manager Hakan Balkuvvar. The Grill is set off the lobby and resembles a posh, romantic club. Indeed this is prime steak-slicing, date-night dining, with a terrific wine list, a dessert cart and the most perfect cappuccino on the beach to finish things off right. (305-520-6400, 305-520-6800)
Surround yourself in luxury at this upscale French restaurant, housed inside the even more luxurious Biltmore Hotel. First, soak up the glittering ambiance, full of polished crystal, crisp linens and gilt-lined mirrors. Then dive into the rich cuisine, which may include dishes such as lobster fricassee over linguine or chicken stuffed with foie gras. Michelin starred and James Beard "Rising Star" nominee Chef Gregory Pugin prepares his French fare with a modern twist, always using fresh, sustainable, and local ingredients to ensure his dishes go beyond expectations. Wonderful wines and impeccable desserts complete this sophisticated yet unpretentious dining experience. Reservations required. (305-913-3201)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
Read more about Priscilla Blossom here.