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.