BEST RESTAURANT IN COCONUT GROVE - 2005
Le Bouchon du Grove
305-448-6060 This relaxed bistro has been around since only 1994 but nevertheless stands as one of the last vestiges-in-spirit to the bohemian Grove of the Seventies. The Parisian street-corner ambiance, with open floor-to-ceiling French doors, encourages patrons to casually sip glasses of Beaujolais or Burgundy at the bar and stare at soccer matches on TV screens, or sit at tables with bottles of red or white and gaze at the goldenrod walls covered with Pastis posters, license plates, soccer jerseys, flags, and all manner of Gallic wall garnish. Managers, owners, and personable chef/partner Georges Eric Farge mingle freely with the diners, while waiters lean on chairs and recite daily specials, some speaking in a hybrid French-English dialect that is nearly indecipherable -- sort of what a very stoned Grove café waiter 30 years ago must have sounded like. The cuisine dates back further than that, the menu reflecting traditional French bistro fare, starting, where else, with a gratinée lyonnaise thickly crusted with Gruyre (which you know as onion soup). Pâté de campagne on freshly sliced baguette, and a humongous heap of steamed mussels are other great beginnings, but save room for knockout main courses like duck confit, chicken fricassee, and roasted rack of lamb imbued with "herbs de Provence" -- and more room still for tarte Tatin pooled in cream, raspberry tart, and pear mille-feuilles. Le Bouchon du Grove is a warm anachronism in cold CocoWalk land, and we profoundly thank them for being so.
Readers´ Choice: Caf´ Tu Tu Tango and Greenstreet Caf´ (tie)