A native of La Mure, France, Chef Laurent Tasic's culinary passion began in his grandmother's farm kitchen, where the young Laurent helped her put together homemade country dishes. After honing his cooking and restaurateur skills in Europe, the French Antilles, and the Cayman Islands, Chef Laurent relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where he draws on his homeland's flavors at two Sage Oyster Bar & Restaurant locations. At his Fort Lauderdale eatery, he expands upon the traditional French countryside dishes of his youth by stuffing onions with veal and provolone, coating roasted duck with honey-raspberry sauce, and filling crepes with wilted spinach and goat cheese. Meals take place on a covered outdoor sidewalk or inside a dining area modeled after a romantic European bistro, where tastings of the restaurant's extensive wine collection and flavored floorboards occur every first and third Tuesday of the month. At his Hollywood location, meanwhile, Chef Laurent focuses on French-seafood preparation, serving oysters baked with roquefort cheese and pizza topped with Maine lobster from the kitchen's brick oven. The ambiance draws upon a similarly romantic aura, with soothing, dramatic lighting that illuminates the artfully arranged plates emerging from the kitchen.
Mussels spring open in the steam of Le Comptoir's kitchen, revealing their pearlescent inner shells and tender meat as chefs dapple them with white wine, curry, provençal, and other sophisticated sauces. Across the stove, cooks craft other quintessential Gallic dishes as they brush duck legs with orange-liqueur glaze, crown field greens with seared tuna, and fold crepes around ennui. Imported French wines, such as chardonnay and pinot noir, complement each dish.
Before owner François Delfosse and his wife Lucia even set foot in George's in the Grove, they knew their way around the kitchen. Lucia had operated three restaurants in their native France, and upon taking over the Coconut Grove hot spot, they opted to keep the space as they found it on the theory that you shouldn't mess with success. The previous owner had placed Buddha statues all around to counterbalance his excitable personality. Now the statues remain to complement the soothing zen music that plays in the background and only stops when birthday celebrations transform the relaxed lounge into a dark nightclub. In this latter scene, patrons show off dance moves while Top 40 hits play and the birthday diner chows down on a sparkler-accented dessert.
A long glass pane stretches across one side of the dining room, giving patrons a look at chefs hard at work arranging French cuisine. François and Lucia's menu spotlights delicate dishes such as steamed mussels with white wine, garlic, and shallots, and rich morel-mushroom risotto with shaved foie gras and truffle oil. Hearty steak tartare—very rare meat with capers, onions, and spices—or lamb shank braised for three hours delight palates and imbue patrons with the strength to climb the Arc de Triomphe. As diners sip wine, they admire paintings along a café au lait-colored wall or take in sunlight on a sidewalk patio.
With the deft hands of a veteran baker, Vincent Benoliel keenly measures almonds, eggs, and sugar, because accuracy is essential when making macarons. The ephemeral sweets come in a rainbow of colors and might taste of chocolate, rose petal, or lemon, but every single one has that je ne sais quoi of a macaron made by a native Frenchman. Vincent grew up in France's ubiquitous restaurant industry, ascending to the rank of sous chef in a Parisian brasserie when he was only 18. In 2005, he brought the richness of French cuisine to South Florida by importing the Eiffel Tower in 3-pound chunks and by opening Le Boudoir in Miami. His handiwork includes delicacies such as escargot, steak tartare, and fresh pastries.
It's not just the ingredients that make a great cr?pe. It's also the method and materials. At Cr?pe Connection Caf?, a chef ladles the thin batter onto one of the traditional French irons, then methodically sweeps the batter in a graceful, exacting swirl to create a large, flat, and incredibly thin cr?pe. The result wraps around a variety of savory and sweet fillings?including a number of showy treats, such as the flamb?ed strawberries-and-Nutella cr?pe, doused in Grand Marnier and set aflame. Visitors can also enjoy coffee, espresso, beer, and wine in the cafe's charming and quaint interior, complete with sparkling lights and French artwork adorning the walls.
The elegant db Bistro Moderne is part of award-winning French chef Daniel Boulud's international culinary empire. This outpost, located in the sophisticated JW Marriott Marquis Miami, touts a menu of French American cuisine that incorporates the ingredients of South Florida. Executive Chef Matthieu Godard, who trained under Boulud, oversees the preparation of escargots and coq au vin as well as market-fresh red snapper with saffron risotto and ceviche with plantain chips. The cellar is stocked full of both French and South American wines to complement the kitchen’s offerings. Guests can nibble charcuterie and artisanal cheese beneath the dining room's lofty 16-foot ceilings and then retire to the bar and lounge for nightcaps. A street-level terrace with views of the Miami River is the perfect place to mingle in the fresh air or recall rafting adventures with Huckleberry Finn.