By Linda Bladholm
Ice cream in the winter is another thing to love about living in South Florida, and Grandmas French Café and Ice Cream Parlor in Fort Lauderdale is the perfect place to stop in for a cone or crepe. Grandmas combines a French bistro with an all-American ice cream parlor serving sundaes, banana splits and triple-decker cones with fruit, nut and hot fudge or butterscotch toppings.
Grandmas is owned and operated by Robert Grassi with the help of his Dominican wife, Ivelisse, and other family members. Grassi was born in New York but moved to South Florida as a child and frequented Grandmas when it was an ice cream stand. He bought it a year ago, spiffing up the décor and expanding the menu to offer full French meals in a casual space at reasonable prices.
The ice cream parlor is divided from the small dining room by a fish tank and blue curtains covered in tiny fleurs-de-lis. With a vaulted wood ceiling and fresh flowers on every table, the cozy space with just 26 seats resembles a cottage in the south of France. (Reservations are suggested.)
Once you are seated, little tin pails of fresh French bread arrive with pats of butter. Check the blackboard for specials — duck a lOrange, perhaps, or snapper in lemon butter. There are down-home specials of the day, too, from meatloaf on Tuesday to chicken pot pie on Sunday.
Start with coarse country pâté with toast or the richly flavored onion soup blanketed in melted Gruyère. Other French specialties include quiche Lorraine (ham, bacon and Swiss cheese), smoked salmon, crab or tuna tartines (open-face sandwiches on whole-wheat toast), and an open-face croque monsieur (ham, melted Swiss and béchamel sauce).
Big salads and sandwiches on baguettes round out the options along with savory crepes with names like the Miami (ham, Swiss and pineapple) and the Fort Lauderdale (chicken and vegetables in light tomato sauce).
Best of the sweet crepes is the Grand Marnier with candied oranges — ice cream optional.
Grandmas French Café and Ice Cream Parlor, 3354 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-3671.
Hours: Noon-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Prices: Ice cream $2.75-$6.25, appetizers $4.95-$8.95, crepes $8.95-$13.95.
Linda Bladholm’s latest book is Latin and Caribbean Grocery Stores Demystified.