Saturday, July 4, 2015

Finding My French Connection in Miami at Downtown Bistro

Having a French boyfriend has its perks. For one, there’s the romance. For two, there’s the accent. For three there’s… all those other things that the French are known for!

The one thing I never would have guessed about dating a french guy in Miami, is how difficult it would be to find a French restaurant of his liking.

“This one is not good.”
“That one is a tourist trap.”
“This one is overpriced.”
“I don’t like their baguettes.”
“Non, non, non!”

After many failed attempts at French dining together, I was starting to give up on the whole idea, until one of his Parisian friends told me about a wonderful little gem called Downtown Bistro.

Could this be true? A French restaurant in Miami that could be approved by mon amour?
We decided to give it a try.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the lovely Ilona, one of the owners, who welcomed us with a cute “bonsoir, comment ca va?”. The place was charming, with a lively bar filled with locals, and bistro tables all around. At the bar, you could see a nice selection of wines, including French favorites like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and several choices of Rose and Champagne.

As we sat at our table, Ilona gave us the history of this adorable little bistro, which she opened together with her French-American boyfriend, Jonathan, last year.

The pair met in the South of France several years ago, and upon realizing that they shared the dream of opening a bistro, they decided to make it happen together, right here in our city.

"But, with the abundance of French restaurants in Miami, why open another one?", I asked Ilona.

The thing that's different (and special) about Downtown Bistro, is that their menu is French Fusion. This allows them to serve the traditional French fare that you would come to expect at a bistro (think steak tartare and ratatouille), as well as some dishes from the Mediterranean (think short rib ravioli with four cheese sauce), and unexpected additions, like fried Oreos. 

As a result, you can always have a different dining experience no matter how many times you come. And the fact that their dishes are very reasonably priced, makes it a favorite that you can come back to over and over without breaking the bank. 

And speaking about the food, did I mention it was divine? Ahead, I’m sharing my top recommendations of the night.
Off to a great start with these escargots in creamy sauce (the traditional garlic butter sauce is also available, but I recommend going for this one if you are looking to try something a bit different!)
Happiness: melted‎ goat cheese & truffle honey on crispy bread with mixed greens
Tiny bites of heaven: steamed‎ mussels in white wine, shallots & parsley 
The incredibly creamy and tender short rib ravioli with four cheese sauce, topped with poached shrimp & asparagus
Rack of Lamb with Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms & Truffle Oil (make sure to squeeze some lemon on the lamb for an unexpected change of flavors!)

You can never go wrong with this dish: fried dates filled with goat cheese, wrapped with maplewood bacon

My favorite of the night: raw filet mignon cut by hand with capers, anchovies, dijon mustard, and served with a quail egg. Who knew raw meat could taste so delicious?
Dessert Platter: macaroons, chocolate mousse, creme brûlée, fried Oreo & vanilla ice cream

As you can imagine by now, our experience at Downtown Bistro was on point. From the ambiance, to the classic french dishes, to the quirky additions, everything about this hidden gem was exquisite and done with impeccable taste. 

Want to know the best part is? My Frenchie loved it! This is great news for me, as I will now have an excuse to have French date night on a regular basis, right here in the Magic City. 

Thanks, Downtown Bistro! ;)

Downtown Bistro is located at 114 SE 1st Street, Miami.

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