Nothing says brunch in French like galette de sarrasin au jambon et fromage. Translation: buckwheat crepes with ham, Gruyère cheese, and béchamel. The authentically French dish comes from a small fishing village in Brittany, where they refer to the crepes (made from white wheat flour and pancakes from buckwheat flour) as cakes. You can get said cakes — along with house-made country pâté, bottomless mimosas, and a floating island that will have you thinking about it days later — at Brasserie Central's weekend brunch.
The Parisian-style brasserie, which opened in late November in the swank outdoor mall Merrick Park and is helmed by Pascal Oudin, has been delighting diners looking for unpretentious yet refined French fare.
And brunch is no different. With a deal that's hard to beat ($37 for a choice of appetizer, main, and dessert, along with bottomless mimosas), you'd be hard-pressed to find anything similar in terms of offerings and value not just nearby, but in all of Miami.
Why sit inside when there's a beautiful courtyard that makes you feel as if you're dining at a sidewalk café in Paris? OK, maybe because of Miami's scorching summer heat. Luckily, the inside dining area has the feel of a bistro.
The only problem with Brasserie Central's brunch menu is choosing only one item from each category (we want them all). Appetizers cater to all types of palates, with everything from a parfait (made with sheep's milk yogurt, house-made granola, and berries) and steel-cut Irish oatmeal with raisins and bananas for those trying to keep it on the light side, to the über-traditional vichyssoise (cold leek-and-potato soup) and classic country-style pâté with cornichons (served in a bucket) and Dijon mustard for those who prefer a bit of decadence.
There's also a Lyonnaise salad with frisée, a soft-poached egg, bacon lardon, and croutons, and smoked salmon with tomato, capers, and crème fraîche. You won't even miss the Americanized bagel.
Mains get really brunchy. Think brioche French toast or a Belgian waffle with seasonal fruit and maple syrup, as well as the king of French sandwiches: the croque-monsieur. To make your monsieur a madame, simply ask to put an egg on it.
Eggs don't stop there. There's a three-cheese omelet with potatoes, herbs, and Gruyère cheese, as well as eggs Florentine. The poached wonders ooze brightly over ham and spinach, their runny yolks mingling beautifully with a dense but not overpowering hollandaise sauce. Use the toasted baguette to scoop up what your fork and even spoon can't.
And though steak 'n' eggs fail to make an appearance, Brasserie Central proffers hanger steak-frites with shallot sauce. Another meat-and-egg option is duck confit with sarladaise potatoes topped with a soft-poached egg.
But you'll want to try the buckwheat crepes, which are stuffed with ham and Gruyère and practically hidden beneath a blanket of near-perfect béchamel.
If you want your savory crepes followed by sweet ones, an orange-infused variety is one of six dessert options. There's also bittersweet chocolate mousse, peach melba, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and bread pudding worth every calorie.
But don't miss the floating island, which gets it name from the dollop of meringue hovering effortlessly over a pool of crème anglaise. Might as well be nirvana.