BEST BISTRO Miami 2005 - Brasserie Les Halles
www.leshalles.net Brasserie Les Halles isn't that much better than other bistros, just a whole lot more ambitious -- and we don't mean ambitious in a "let's try escargots, peaches, and truffles together" way. Rather owner Philippe Lajaunie is dedicated to reproducing what Chef Anthony Bourdain creates at the flagship Les Halles in New York: working-class renditions of almost any dish you might encounter at a full-service bistro in Paris. Yeah, you can have your onion soup, escargots, country pâté, roast chicken, and steak frites (the last of these made with hangar steak and fresh potatoes for a thrifty $15.50). But you can also delve into smoked herring imported from Normandy, warm leeks with cornichons and shallot vinaigrette, or shredded pork rillettes -- and that's just for starters. Main courses, almost all under twenty dollars, include a number of grilled steaks (either Angus or prime, and organic feed only), cassoulet, rabbit in mustard sauce, crisp duck confit, and blood sausages with caramelized apples (we forgot to mention: the kitchen crew here really knows how to cook). Tempting, homemade desserts have names like girls from the Moulin Rouge: Mousse, Brùlée, Suzette, and Tatin. Les Halles also offers a cheese plate, which is harder to find in Miami restaurants than American cheese in Paris, and stocks an exceptional number of French regional wines priced a bit below most local lists. Last but perhaps most, dining in this long room with its dark wood and tin roof is closer to an authentic Parisian bistro experience than anything else in South Florida.