2.5 stars for French charm in Brickell
The Brickell crowd gets a little ooh-la-la with the new Lou Lou Le Petit Bistro sandwiched between The River Oyster Bar and Tobacco Road in the former Indochine space. "We realize, my daughter and I, that a new French bistro with an organic flair would be a good idea. Especially regarding we were born in Nice," says charming Jacques Ardisson, owner of Lou Lou and its predecessor, who named the new spot for daughter Carla Lou. The pair makes all the difference, with one or the other always on hand to greet guests.
Three-course lunch specials are just $15, and dinner is also very reasonably priced. There's a full bar, but don't miss the super-friendly wine list designed by Sebastian Verrier, a friend of Ardisson and sommelier extraordinaire formerly of the Biltmore. About two-thirds of the 30 bottles are French, and there are lots of good by-the-glass picks.
Ambience: The long, skinny slice of a dining room has a big personality, with walls as shiny and red as a new summer pedicure. Bright red chairs and straight-back booths are more welcoming than they look. So, too, the quirky staffers who greet each guest with a flute of cold champagne and a smile.
- Moules frites - an abundant pot of steamed mussels with ribbons of sweet shallots and herbs served with thick, crisp and well-salted fries
- A satisfying, simple omelet stuffed with organic ratatouille served with a tangle of fresh greens
- A nicely-composed lunchtime nicoise salad with its tiny, briny olives, crisp haricots vert, batons of red and yellow peppers and a classic vinaigrette
- Octopus with tentacles as tender as chicken flavored with bits of carrot, onion and thyme over more greens
- Classic garlicky escargot
- Ratatouille with medallions of organic zucchini, bits of pepper and zingy onions suspended in a meltingly tender mash of tomato and eggplant
- Roasted salmon fillet with a nice, crispy crust
- Utterly spa-like tea service -a small wooden box filled with loose leaves and flowers including a passion fruit infusion
- Classic crème brulee with a shatteringly crisp pane of crystallized sugar over delightfully rich custard
- House-made whipped cream and a fan of fresh sliced strawberries
- A complimentary digestif from a jug of house-made ginger liqueur
- A selection of fine sauterne, reserve ports and spiked coffee drinks.
What Didn’t Work
- Gristly steak frites cooked medium
- Unauthentic bread (soft and white) and butter (in foil-covered packets)