A craving for bouillabaisse led to an epiphany for Harald Neuweg. The Austrian-born owner of Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables was expanding to a 12,000-square-foot, two-story building in Fort Lauderdale that he wanted to divide into three distinct venues. One would be a rendition of the German-themed Fritz & Franz, and the upstairs would be a 250-seat jazz and blues club called Satchmo. The small third space was a question mark, maybe a pizzeria — until Neuweg was in the mood for the classic seafood stew and realized there weren’t many French restaurants in the area.
Ambience: On Nov. 15, Neuweg opened the 45-seat Bouillabaisse, a still under-the-radar charmer. The setting is lovely, with all the requisite romantic touches: flickering candlelight, crisp white linens and fresh flowers at each table. There’s also a small bar, dark wood furniture and colorful art work. With seductive French music in the background, the place is perfect for couples but also works for friends looking for a cozy spot and quiet conversation. Charming maitre d’ Rudy Tachen sets the tone for attentive but not hovering service, doting on the ladies, naturally.
- Warm mini baguettes
- An 80-selection wine list starting with a $28 2009 Beau Rivage Borie-Manoux Bordeaux
- Rich French country pâté
- A refreshing salad of hearts of palm, slivers of red onions and artichoke hearts dressed in a simple vinaigrette
- A bold dipping sauce spiked with cayenne and finished with a splash of cognac brightens small bites of jumbo lump crab
- Bouillabaisse – a bowl of glistening white grouper, shrimp, a Maine lobster tail, mussels and scallops and local tomatoes in an out of the sea-salty broth, aromatic of saffron, garlic and fennel, accompanied by rouille, a traditional garlicky paste spread on toasted croutons
- A special of fresh yellowtail – a large slab of snapper in a delicate sauce of lemon butter, white wine and capers, plated with delicious au gratin potatoes, a slice of winter melon and baby carrots
- Perfectly cooked New York steak Madagascar flambéed with cognac and served with a nicely done, peppery crust,, rich green peppercorn cream sauce, potatoes and carrots
- Scrumptious puff pastry tart made with cinnamon-scented D’Anjou pears topped with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream on a plate drizzled with caramel sauce
- Classic chocolate mousse and crème brûlée
What Didn’t Work
- Chewy veal in a Française sauce