La Goulue - First Visit
We got to La Goulue for the first time tonight. This spot in Bal Harbour has been the site of some very good, but unfortunately short-lived, restaurants (Petrossian, Elia come to mind). There was a nice crowd there and I'm optimistic the same fate won't visit La Goulue.
It's done up in very typically French brasserie style - the black and white wicker chairs outside, a little more elegant inside, same zinc bar that's been there at least since the Petrossian days. Since it cooled off today, we ate outside. Service was a little shaky to start - we got bread and butter immediately, but then waited close to 10 minutes before anyone came by with water or to take an order - but quickly improved once the waiter got to our table and was excellent from that point on. The waiter said they've been open for about a month and it was his first time doing dinner (rather than lunch).
It's a fairly short and very much standard French brasserie menu. A few soups, including an onion soup and a potato leek, about a half dozen apps including escargot, charcuterie, some raw bar items, scallop w/ celery root and remoulade, an "onion tart" which I think is like a tarte flambe (sort of an Alsatian white pizza w/ bacon & onion) a few salads including a frisee lardon and a couple others, and maybe 9-10 mains, which include a salmon, moules & frites, duck a la orange, a roasted chicken w/ ratatouille, strip steak, hanger steak, steak tartare.
We went very old school: escargot, onion soup, frisee lardon, hanger steak w/ bearnaise and frites. The onion soup was good, very cheesy, nice broth, but nothing that would get me really excited. The escargot were nice, lots of fresh garlic and butter, nice touch that they were each topped with a little puff pastry round (convenient built-in dunker for the garlic butter). Somehow I missed trying my wife's frisee salad, but it looked nice with big hunks of bacon and a poached egg on top of it. The hanger steak was excellent - a really rich tasting cut, nicely done medium rare, good bearnaise on the side, pretty good frites (were a little less crispy than I like, and needed some salt).
Also a pretty nice wine list. We got a 2003 Chateau Gloria for about $50. That's a very good wine from a great vintage for probably less than 2X markup from retail. Pretty nice selection of Bordeaux and Rhone wines. Also a good number of California choices although I wasn't paying much attention (I usually drink American, but when in Rome...)
We had a chocolate souffle w/ a pistachio creme anglaise for dessert, also very good.
Very nice place, much better than average French bistro style food, will definitely go back, probably often. By comparison to other US French bistros I've tried, I would say definitely better than Les Halles in the Gables, better than Bouchon du Grove, not quite as good but close to the old Brasserie le Coze in Coconut Grove (I am dating myself with that reference), not in same league as Tom Keller's Bouchon (tried the Vegas one, not the Napa one).
Hooray! A nice addition to Miami restauarant scene.
I got tell you, the lack of French food in this town amazes me. Talk about dating your self, the last good French restaurant I went to was uh-oh, wow, you got to help me out here, it was in the Gables long ago, quite famous actually, I want to say Festival??? I don't remember...sorry.
Anyway, from the sounds of it, this place is now the one French place to try of the ones you mentioned? I notice you didn't mention Pascals? I have been to none of them, so I am really fishing for the one good place to try. I fondly remember French food, but with the lack of SOFLA proliferation, the closest I've come is La Sandwicherie and A La Folia...certainly not sophisticated choices, but they are in the Hood!
I like Pascal's very much, I just put it in a different, higher-end category than the places I mentioned, which are more casual bistro/brasserie style. And yes, I remember Le Festival too!
For more casual, hearty bistro-style French, La Goulue is probably the best I've had down here (that's still open), although both Les Halles and Bouchon du Grove are decent. Les Halles has a somewhat broader menu - in addition to the moules & frites, steak & frites, etc., they also have a great cassoulet, and I think there's always a choucroute on the menu too. They also have a really nice salad with a duck leg confit and truffled fried potatoes (my idea of a salad).
- The original comment has been removed
That's quite a teaser...
I like Gourmet Diner and it used to be a regular rotation place for us, especially with the kids. Haven't been for several months. They do a great roast duck, steaks are usually very nice, great caesar salad - the best, though, are the vegetables souffles that come as sides for the entrees.
I went a couple of weeks ago and had the hanger steak for lunch. Service was adequate if a little ill-informed. I assumed it was due to the newness of the restaurant. When my waiter arrived with the steak there was no bearnaise sauce. When I asked him about it he just looked confused and said "This is the HANGER steak" and I gently reminded him that the menu says it comes with bearnaise. When the bearnaise arrived it was a gloppy, lumpy mess. Not at all the true texture of the sauce but the flavor was fine. The steak was delicious.
The fries were salted appropriately and might have once been crisp but they appeared to have been sitting too long and were a bit limp.
The worst part of the meal was that the restaurant put through a tip on my credit card higher that what I wrote on the slip. I didn't realize it until the charge went through on my online statement several days later but I left a generous tip of $8 on a $39 tab, $14 of which was wine. They ran it through with a $10 tip... I was flabbergasted.
Yomiss, check your statement again after a few days -- lots of restos typically put in a charge more than what you tipped, because they run the card before you fill out the slip. Your credit card puts a temporary hold on the amount, and then when the banking magic happens and the resto reports your actual total, it should readjust. I got this sermon yesterday from my bank when a local pizza joint accidentally charged me $71 instead of $17, but the hold amount was for $80 or so. *shrug*