Maison Gourmet's culinary artists channel French cooking techniques to craft cuisine cataloged on an extensive menu. Saturday and Sunday brunch rewards early-rising appetites with delectables such as Maison's omelet stuffed with ham, mushrooms, and swiss cheese ($7). Limber chomping muscles with sweet and savory crêpes, or munch on meal-prefacing portions of ham and cheese croissants ($3.95). A glass of Cotes de Rhone red wine from France pairs well with escargots en persillade ($10.95)—snails under a blanket of garlic-parsley sauce—and hearty helpings of beef bourguignon ($15.95) erase hunger pangs faster than the speed of light: 28 mph. Postmeal cool downs begin with crème brûlée, rich custard cream cloaked in a layer of crispy, warm caramel that sneaks into mouths to goose unsuspecting sweet teeth ($6.95).
Enjoy a meal on the go at BannaStrow's, where the chefs work their magic in front of your anticipatory pupils and breakfast is served all day. Start by selecting a crepe, wrep (wrapped crepe), or salad as your edible canvas. Then, throw down your choice of four fresh veggies, a refreshing dressing, and one highly pleasing cheese to complete your creation ($5.95). If for some reason you hit a creperie block, feel free to enjoy any signature item, including good morning breakfast crepes (eggs, mozzarella, cheese, and ham; $3.99), a sweet crepe (strudel supreme with cinnamon apples, caramel sauce, and vanilla ice cream; $6.15), or classic California salads (spring mixed lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, raisins, parmesan, and olive oil; $4.35). By the time your food's prepped, your eyes will have already basted your face in tears of joy and hunger.
Daniel Gonzalez has a wealth of culinary knowledge. After working in a continental restaurant, he managed the argentinean steak house Rinc?n Argentino. He brings that know-how to French Bistro, a casual eatery offering French, continental, and steak-house cuisine. The menu is filled with French dishes, including escargot swimming in garlic butter and chicken normandy drizzled with a rich asparagus sauce. Myriad cuts of steak and seafood meals are available, and other European-influenced dishes dot the menu, such as gnocchi in a red sauce and chicken parmigiana served with an Italian flag as a napkin.
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.