When Le Café de Paris opened on Las Olas Boulevard in the 1960s, it quickly became the place for fashionable ladies and Fort Lauderdale power brokers to meet over classics like escargot bourguignon, beef Wellington and duck l'orange. In 47 years, the boulevard has shifted from haute to hip, but the café has remained a fixture with its familiar French food, quaint atmosphere and reasonable prices. A pianist plays delightful music to dine by each night, and you can find a bottle of French wine for $22. The café's reign seemed over last summer when longtime owner Louis Flematti sold the Las Olas building, but the café part of the deal fell through, and Swiss native Flematti decided he didn't want to give it up the restaurant business after all. Instead, he and his French-born wife, Janine, closed the 180-seat café from August to late October for needed renovations (new bathrooms, interior painting, pruning to open up the sidewalk patio).
Dining values - and not just for early birders - have long been a part of the appeal here. Dinner for two with a bottle of wine, Caesar salad, a choice of six entrees and dessert from the pastry cart can easily cap out at $88. $24 to $32 three-course menus are also popular.
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Rack of lamb at Cafe de Paris, 715 Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Photo by Joshua Prezant.