By Sara Liss
The goods: Francopile food fans rejoice! An outpost of the popular Coral Gables French cafe Le Boudoir just opened downtown. Nestled on the ground floor of Brickell’s Solaris condo building, the classy bistro features pink leather banquettes, retro chandeliers and a shiny dessert case where jewel-like sugary confections reside. Flat screen TVs beam French movies to a steady stream of Edith Piaf-esque patrons. Paris-born restaurateur Vincent Benoliel owns this spot as well as the Gables outpost and plans to open a third location in Aventura this year. "Good pastries are hard to find in Miami," says Benoliel. "I have a passion for food and want to share this with my customers." He plans to introduce a small gourmet market with French products like Mariage Freres tea, Lorina Sparkling Lemonade and the restaurant’s homemade jams. Free WiFi and French roasted coffee make this a sweet spot for laptop-toters.
The grub: Classic casual French fare. Salads, sandwiches, paninis and a colorful array of desserts. Prices are in keeping with the informal surroundings; salads are $7-$13, sandwiches hover at $9-$12 and pastries range from $2-$7. Relive your semester in Paris with bites of the house croque monsieur or a satisfying slurp of escargot. Traditional onion soup, a decadent meal in itself, arrives capped in a blistery blanket of Gruyere cheese. Make sure to order one of the tartines, or open-faced sandwiches. The delicate meals are made with "Pain Poilane," an imported French sourdough bread shipped in from the 70 year-old Paris bakery. Try the artisanal bread topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese, or artichokes and black olive tapenade for a light lunch.
Le Boudior also offers nightly dinner courtesy of chef Alan Dumas (Coral Gables Westin Hotel), which includes entrecote steak, chicken in bourguignon sauce and scallops Provencal. A weekly Wendesday $25 prix-fixe dinner includes three courses and a glass of house wine.
Desserts include pastel-colored French mini-macaroons in vanilla, hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate as well the Allegro, a cake of chocolate mousse, crème brulee and crunchy praline bottom.
Wash it down with a Chateau Minuty Rose or a cold Kronenbourg 1664 beer, a brew that pairs well with the rich cuisine.
The Verdict: French ex-pats have planted their culinary flag in downtown. At this stylish boite you’ll find unfussy dishes common across France but harder to find in the states.
Le Boudoir, 186 SE 12th Terr, Brickell; 305-372-2333.
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