Cafe de Paris _____
Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale _____
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Reservations _____
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The café's reign seemed over last summer when longtime owner Louis Flematti sold the Las Olas building, but the café part of the deal fell through, and Swiss native Flematti decided he didn't want to give up the restaurant business after all.

He and his French-born wife, Janine, wound up closing the 180-seat café from August to late October for renovations, including new bathrooms, interior painting and pruning to open up the sidewalk patio. Another big change: The café dropped lunch service due to slow daytime traffic in a down economy. That's not the case after dark, though, when Le Caféde Paris, like the rest of Las Olas, draws a crowd. MORE



Dining values—and not just for early birders—have long been a part of the appeal here. You can order dinner for two with a bottle of wine, Caesar salad, a choice of six entrées and dessert from the pastry cart or baked Alaska for $88. There are also popular three-course prix fixe menus from $24 to $32, including our trout Bretonne. The flavorful fish, served with sautéed shrimp, mushrooms and capers in a shallot butter, included an appetizer and a dessert off the cart for $25.

Servers are cordial but not chatty, and there are some lags when the place is packed, but our servers were quite helpful with recommendations, starting with the mussels meuniere & gravere. The 19 mid-size molluscs were bathed in a lush bath of wine, butter and garlic spiked with shallots and parsley, so good you'll want to sop up the aromatic juices with the crusty French rolls, fresh from the oven.

Starters include paté, vichyssoise, Russian osetra caviar for a big splurge and a comforting coquilles St. Jacques with plump scallops in a bubbling hot bechamel sauce, topped with Swiss cheese and browned under the broiler. Stone crabs may be more Floridian than French but they're a yearly staple, half a pound (generally three) for $16.95 and a pound for (five or six) $32.95, served with a mesclun salad, sliced tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs. I like the crabs' sweet, clean taste on its own, but there's a perky mustard sauce for dipping.

Entrées are as simple as grilled salmon or as elegant as a classic beef Wellington. The puff pastry-encased filet mignon is nestled in a bordelaise sauce, a wine and beef-bone reduction, and the buttery tender meat was properly cooked to medium rare.

The chicken and mushroom crepe was also a winner, with a super creamy bechamel sauce and sides of steamed broccoli and halved tomatoes garnished with herbes de Provence. These accompaniments, along with a staple of sliced Lyonnaise potatoes, were better than the mushy risotto and overcooked snow peas we had on a previous visit.

The dessert cart is temptation on wheels, filled with treats like a creamy-crisp Napoleon, fruit tart and mousse au chocolat. For an extra special splurge, try the cherries jubilee, crepes Suzette or huge baked Alaska. Easily shared by two to four people, the cake is flambéed at the table. How often do you see that anymore? It's one of those traditions worth keeping, like Café de Paris.





 

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Le Cafe de Paris, Fort Lauderdale

Since 1962, a standard of excellence and popularity that has become world famous. After more than four decades of ownership, Le Café de Paris is one of the oldest and most deliciously authentic French restaurants in South Florida.

Le Cafe De Paris

715 Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954.467.2900

 

 

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