Friday, July 6, 2007

Restaurant Review: French Kiss, Coconut Grove

The French have brought 2 great things to America - French cuisine and French kissing. So, its only fitting that an ambitious restaurateur attempt to combine the two for an unforgettable experience. OK, so we aren't talking about making out with your escargot in a bed of pommes frites, but we are talking about French Kiss - a relatively new restaurant hidden away in Coconut Grove that specializes in French cuisine.

French Kiss is located on 2779 Bird Road right next to Flanagan's in Coconut Grove. The restaurant is set back a ways, which allows for a decent little outdoor area for dining. There is also seating inside and a small bar that contains a nice variety of wine and beer. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a lovely woman who was the wife of the owner. She welcomed us and gave us our choice of seating, and we opted for the screened in outdoor deck. As we looked over the menu, our waiter came by and offered us complimentary champagne with a very thick French accent that my female companion loved. Its always nice to go to a restaurant where the people are from the country where the cuisine originates. In this case, we were being served by some legit Frenchies, so I knew we were in for some good food served with some great sauces.

Our waiter brought out some menus along with some french bread that was fresh from the oven and served with a creamy tarragon butter that I could not get enough of. The menu has a variety of appetizers, salads, and entrees. I opted for the escargot - my all-time favorite - while she ordered the french onion soup. I was blown away by the portion of escargot. Usually, escargot comes in a dish with 5 to 6 divots around the edge and one in the middle, with each containing 1 escargot. This one was LOADED with escargot and had 2-3 per divot! I was in heaven and took down another loaf of bread by dipping it into the garlicky pesto juice. My lady friend said the french onion soup was great as well, especially with the crusted cheese and large croutons on top.

One of my favorite things about eating out is finding out the specials for the day. I get bored with menus pretty easily as most of them are similar to other restaurants in some way, shape, or form, so having the option to order off-menu items based on availability is appealing to me. Today, I was in luck. Not only did they have some special entrees that sounded great, but one happened to involved scallops, another one of my all-time favorites. The scallops were offered with creamed leeks and came in a lobster bisque broth and, seeing that I had already devoured almost 2 loaves of bread, I thought it would be a nice light course. Now, I cook a lot at home and if there is one thing Im great at its cooking scallops to perfection. Well, the chef at French Kiss must have that talent too because these scallops were spot-on perfectly cooked. Nicely seared outside, tender as all heck on the inside. The leeks and lobster bisque complimented the dish perfectly and I was able to resist mopping up the little remains of the bisque with another piece of bread even though it took a lot of willpower to do so. She had the salmon which came with pan-roasted potatoes and some crispy green beans with a nice butter sauce. The salmon was cooked perfectly as well and the beans and potatoes had a great crunch to them that contrasted the smoothness of the salmon.

My willpower was on a roll, so we resisted the chance to sample some dessert. Id had their creme brulee on a previous visit and it was a nice, creamy vanilla that hit the spot just right. Instead, we opted for the check and spent a few minutes enjoying conversation over a glass of savignon blanc. My date was happy to see that our meal only came to $90, including a 20% tip, and mentioned . Not bad for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 4 glasses of wine, not to mention the free champagne and killer bread and butter. With a polite, friendly, and welcoming staff to compliment great food, French Kiss definitely earns a "highly recommended" rating.