By Linda Bladholm
When Claude Postel and Callie Bienvenu recently moved from the Beach to Buena Vista East so their big dog could have a back yard, they were frustrated by the lack of neighborhood places to get a good meal. Then a spot became available and they bought it, redid the door and opened four months ago as Buena Vista Bistro, offering reasonably priced fare with a French flair.
The small BYOB (until they get their alcohol license) space is done up in black and cream. One wall is hung with Bienvenu's framed photos of houses in the neighborhood and autographs of famous people who ate at restaurants in Canada where Postel was chef.
Postel shops every morning and plans the menu accordingly, so it changes every day, with offerings written on a large chalkboard. Most days there are escargot, a Provencale (with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil), roast salmon with ratatouille and thick rice pudding.
Another constant is rillette du Mans, potted pork, a specialty of Le Mans, a city in Northeast France near Normandy. The name means "planks," referring to the mixture spread on a slice of bread. To make it, pork shoulder is cooked in fat with salt over low heat until tender enough to rake into shreds. The shreds are blended with warm cooking fat to form a rustic paste, served here chilled and packed into small crocks with French bread, cornichons (pickled gherkins) and Dijon mustard.
To cater to the neighborhood Rastafarians, there's usually vegetable lasagna or another vegetable entree and salads. The love of the owners is expressed in the food and the faith in nurturing a neighborhood through a kitchen that turns out a mean chocolate souffle to cap off a meal here.
Buena Vista Bistro, 4582 NE 2nd Ave, Buena Vista Miami; 305-456-5909; 11 a.m.-midnight, daily (closes later on weekends). Appetizers $6-$8, entrees $8-$18, desserts $4.
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Seared scallops with mashed potatoes and wilted spinach pooled in lime butter as served at Buena Vista Bistro. Photo: Linda Bladholm.