French Spice is the lesser known sibling of Miami Spice. Taking place from November 1st through the 30th, there have been twenty restaurants in Miami-Dade and Broward participating in the lunch ($15 or $22) and dinner ($25 or $35) pre-set menus.
Participating in the promotion is Miami Beach's Otentic. The place is intrinsically French, from the French owner serving tables to the staff, who are very concerned you enjoy their food. What's not to like about them opening up their entire menu, with a choice of appetizer, entree, side, and dessert for just $15?
Here comes the painful part, though: Lunch took two hours to endure because service moved about as slow as an escargot.
Lunch began with toasted slices of French baguette served with an olive tapenade. The appetizers of French onion soup (regularly priced at $5.50) and salad with blue cheese, walnuts, and grilled chicken (regularly priced at $7.55) both met and exceeded expectations. The soup was salted just right and the side of shredded cheese was a nice touch for portion control. The salad was generously sized with an abundance of fresh ingredients.
The "signature" farmer steak with fries, or steak frites, (regularly $12.95) failed to impress. Taking my steak's temperature request of medium rare was ignored when the piece of meat was delivered medium well (perhaps accounting for the twenty-minute gap between the clearing of our apps and delivery of our entrees). The fries were on the soggy side and too dense. The side of blue cheese sauce was a saving grace for both the dried-out, yet quite fatty, piece of meat and the fries.
The roasted fish duo (regularly $12.50) includes tilapia and salmon filets served with olive oil, tomatoes, green beans, lemon, and bell peppers is a fresh dish full of flavor. The presence of two pieces of fish, while overwhelming for lunch with an appetizer, does add bang for your buck.
Picking up slack for lackluster entrees, Otentic's desserts were extraordinary. The vanilla creme brulee (regularly $6.50) was warm throughout with a pudding-like consistency that was especially creamy. It paired nicely with the moelluex au chocolat, or chocolate molten cake (regularly $6.00). With caramel oozing from the inside of the warm, generously-portioned piece of cake, the desserts easily declared Otentic a success and made the two-hour wait to get the check not seem so bad after all.