Old World Fare
Two South Florida eateries get classic and creative with European cuisine that will have you believing you’re sailing down the Seine River or suiting up for high tea.
La Fresa Francesa Petit Cafe 59 W. 3rd St., Hialeah, 786-717-6886
South Florida’s rich and growing culinary diversity can feel dizzying at times, with so many kitchen cultures to explore. And while it’s always fun to sample dishes from exotic parts of the world, the timeless flavors of classic Old World fare never grow old. Here are two neighborhood gems that will easily become regular go-to spots for traditional yet creative classic cuisine.
Owned by the dedicated husband and wife team Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat, this bustling, bohemian bistro brings the Left Bank of Paris to the Cuban-American neighborhood of Hialeah. Gracious and warm, Sanchez greets diners and makes it a point to travel from table to table in this colorful, multi-room hotspot—offering Miami-inspired signature cocktails like the guava Bellini, or enthusiastically explaining exquisite daily specials such as rabbit braised with Dijon, bacon, and mushrooms or seared scallops over roasted leeks served with calamander fruit jam, which she describes in her contagious zeal as “a crazy hybrid between orange and lemon.” Sanchez’s husband, a native of Paris, creates the magic in the kitchen, serving up bestselling fusions of his French background and his wife’s South Florida roots, like the starter of foie gras and Redland guava pastelito with pistachios. Order the roasted bone marrow with garlic confit, toast, and celery, and you’ll get just that—a hefty bone sliced in half, bubbling with buttery marrow. The attentive staff offer instructions: take a slice of toast, smear some garlic confit, then spoon marrow on top and sprinkle with the included Maldon salt. One bite and you reach a high note of perfection. “We like to keep it pretty simple,” Sanchez adds with her bright smile, “let the flavors stand out.” The two met in Los Angeles while working at the Michelin-rated Osteria Mozza. Sanchez had headed west in pursuit of an acting career, but along the way fell in love with the wine and restaurant world. La Fresa Francesa oozes with that love. No detail goes unnoticed, from the mismatched tables and exposed beam ceiling, to the dainty dishes and eclectic framed mirrors lining the asparagus green wall. Edith Piaf croons in the background and Benoit—whose kitchen is separated from the rest of the eatery by just a thin burgundy curtain topped by a “Bon Appetit” sign—pops out as eagerly and lovingly as his wife, to greet happy patrons and make sure they save room for dessert. This is a sound piece of advice, given that the salted butter crêpe will have you both swooning and checking your agenda for a much-needed return date.
Vienna Cafe & Bistro 5724 S. Flamingo Rd., Cooper City, 954-680-6599, viennacafeandbistro.com