Daniel Boulud's Miami outpost of DB Bistro Moderne captured the distinction of most fabulous French restaurant in our Best Of Miami 2011 issue, beating out oldies but goodies who have been serving up escargots for ages. Here's a round-up of our other favorites who remain heralded, even without the official badge of honor.
5. A La Folie's location on Española Way, truly evokes a tiny cafe nestled in Le Marais. Sure, it can get hot in there, but that only adds to the charm of Parisian authenticity. Sweet and savory crêpes are made to order, we really, really like the salty creaminess of the "Norvégienne" (salmon with brie and mushrooms, $12.50) and the apple goodness of the "Normande" (Apples cooked in a Calavados-based cream sauce, $8). Classic French staples like pâté, quiche Lorraine ($9) and duck rillettes ($10) are all reasonably priced.You'll get everything from grog to a latte, along with the surrounding flow of French conversation.
4. Buena Vista Bistro reminds us of a West Bank hangout, where all types fill the tables -- from local cops to Design District creative types to very, very old French men (the true indicator of whether a French restaurant is très magnifique, or a flop). The escargot, rillettes and ratatouille are delicious every time, and the menu rotates depending on what is freshly available in the kitchen. If the bakery masquerading as a "deli" next door is still open after dinner, get some croissants for the morning after. You'll need it after drinking all that gently priced Côtes du Rhône.
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3. Pascals On Ponce has a well rounded menu consistently executed with love by Chef Pascal Oudin. The country duck terrine ($17.95) is perfection, as is that rack of lamb ($39.95), always served rosé. An apple tarte tatin ($12) finishes the meal with a satisfying sigh. It's a comfortable restaurant, nothing flashy, but you will feel transported to the French countryside. Regulars fill the tables, so make a reservation.
2. Petit Rouge is a neighborhood favorite in North Miami; it's also our 2010 winner for Best French Bistro. The chicken liver mousse ($10) is a silky wonder, and their "land lobsters" really are indeed "bathed in herbed garlic butter" as the menu indicates (Wild Burgundy escargots, $12). The duck leg confit ($19), poulet rouge ($21) and macaroni au gratin ($7) are fabulous renditions of traditional bistro fare. The service is always spot on; bring friends and family, this is an ideal meal to consume with those you love.
1. Palme d'Or at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables still continues to win praise for Executive Chef Philippe Ruiz's beautiful modern French cuisine, which earned him a Beard nomination last year (and was our choice for Best Last Meal On Earth. This continues to be the area's most outstanding high-end French restaurant. The prix-fixe, seasonal menu continually evolves, and although some may say it's a little stuffy, most will cite it as the ultimate meal for a special celebration. Take advantage of the Miami Spice menu, which includes a main course choice of lobster and corn ragu, or beef tenderloin with a potato and leek galette.