At Café Bastille in downtown Miami, power couple Eloise Garcia and Christian Jouault serve traditional French and Spanish flavors side-by-side. Though the small space previously catered to those looking for a tasty breakfast or lunch, the redesigned and revamped restaurant now features a tempting dinner menu perfect for a romantic night out.
Raised in Normandy, Jouault got his start operating a crepe stand across the street. “I was just making a small living doing what I knew,” he says. But after a lucky break with a vendor, his business grew overnight. Crepe Express had expanded to cover major tennis events, including the Miami Open. “I went from selling 200 crepes a day to selling 100,000, just like that.” Today it's the oldest food vendor still working at the annual Grand Slam tennis tournament.
It was through his crepe business that he met Barcelona-born Eloise Garcia, who was working as a barista. “Coffee and crepes, what could be more perfect?” he says. Nine years ago, they opened Café Bastille (248 SE First St.), where Garcia is the principal chef. Raised in the restaurant business, she creates dishes that blend traditional French cooking styles with Spanish and French flavors. Like Garcia and Jouault, the ingredients exist in tandem without overpowering one another.
In the traditional French way, Café Bastille places a premium on the freshness of its ingredients. All vegetables are sourced from farms in Homestead, and meat and fish are bought from local vendors. Appetizers such as the octopus carpaccio salad ($15) clearly benefit from this tradition, and the terrine de foie gras maison ($21) and pâté de campagne maison ($13) are both made in-house.
Daily specials are written on a chalkboard next to the extensive wine collection, which takes up a large part of the tiny restaurant. Recently, grilled snapper ($23) was served with homemade ratatouille.
Jouault's favorite is the eight-ounce filet mignon de boeuf ($29), served in a green peppercorn sauce with a side of potatoes au gratin. Other entrée options include steak tartare ($27), rack of lamb ($29), and roasted Cornish hen ($15).
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Dessert could very well be the best part of any French meal. As expected from a crepe master, the sweets menu is almost as long as the entrée list. Jouault and Garcia use as little sugar as possible in their desserts, preferring to focus on flavors from the ingredients themselves. Offerings include traditional options such as bread pudding ($8.50), crème brûlée ($7), and homemade crepes. The profiteroles ($8) are made using croissants and are covered in Nutella.
Café Bastille is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.