Bastille Day at Brand New Fabien's Bistro

Fabien's Bistro, which quietly opened last month on Brickell Key, will be celebrating Bastille Day this Saturday with a $35 prix fixe menu that includes complimentary Kanon Organic Vodka cocktails. The special dinner (from 5 pm until close) starts with a charcuterie and cheese platter, segues into a choice of coq au vin or bouillabaisse, and finishes with a special "la bastille" dessert.

So what is this Fabien's Bistro? Who is Fabien? What's The Twenty-Minute Menu for $20 all about? You can probably figure out that last one, but the other info follows.

Fabien's Bistro is owned by Amyr Restaurants, which operates some 20 dining establishments worldwide. The spacious bistro includes a main dining room, a bar with four flat-screen TVs, and a private dining room that seats up to 20. It used to be Senses Brasserie.

Executive chef Fabien Micard was the chef at Senses; I never dined there, so I don't know how similar (or not) this new place is. Micard hails from Champagne, where he operated two restaurants, and brings 25 years of industry experience to the table. His menu is classic French, with regional representation from his home town as well as from Bourgogne, Lyon, Perigord, Paris, and points beyond.

Appetizers ($9 to $22), include quiche; a salad of grapes, apple, watermelon, feta cheese, grilled shrimp, walnuts, and citrus vinaigrette; and a Perigord salad of smoked duck breast, foie gras, and truffle vinaigrette.

Sandwiches served on French baguette come with mixed greens and truffle fries, but the main courses ($19 to $38) are more distinctive. Veal shoulder, which I have written of in the past as being a woefully underutilized meat, is here served with hanger steak, poached egg, veal reduction and mashed potatoes (hachis parmentier). Veal also comes in a blanquete (white stew) with pearl onions, button mushrooms, carrots and rice pilaf (this was on Senses' menu too). Angus steak with pepper sauce and ratatouille sounds good too, as does the chicken fricasse.

Desserts ($9) bring pear créme brûlée, strawberry Napoleon, and the cream-filled Paris-Brest -- another traditional treat not seen on enough menus.

Fabien's features over 80 wines: 35% from France, 35% from the U.S., and the rest from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Italy and Spain. There are 17 wines sold by the glass.

The Twenty-Minute Menu for $20: Salad or soup du jour, steak frites or catch of the day, and dessert. You're in and out in twenty minutes. Plus there's a daily happy hour from 4 pm to 7 pm (all drinks 2-for-1). Nice thing about new places is that they are often generous with welcoming gestures.

It all looks good; I'll make it over there in the not-too-distant future and let you know what I think. But Bastille Day is closing in fast, and the menu looks promising; if you're interested, reservations can be made by phone or via Open Table.

Fabien's is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Parking is complimentary for two hours, so don't dawdle too much over dinner.

Fabien's Bistro
605 Brickell Key Dr., Miami

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein

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