Since 1983, the vintage box on Biscayne Boulevard appeared from the outside as if it offered little more than burgers and shakes. But inside Gourmet Diner, a meal could begin with a half-dozen tender escargots roasted in fragrant garlic butter ($7.95) or poached asparagus with a hefty vinaigrette for dipping ($8.95). Then it mysteriously disappeared, only to reopen in May 2014 about a mile up the road as Petit Gourmet Diner. The lunch crowd packs in for more bistro-like items such as salad topped with skewers of grilled shrimp, and churrasco alongside a mound of white rice. But the French fare, like the half roast duck ($19.99), hints at why the diner sticks with safe options. The bird's lower quarter was roasted into near-oblivion. It was all but impossible to pull the skin off the thigh, and whatever meat remained was in chalky threads. Things got better higher up, but mostly because the rich, fatty skin cloaking the breast helped return some of the lost moisture. If you must go, don't miss the unctuous vegetable soufflé.
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