La Nouvelle Maison in Boca Raton, where elegance is found on and off the menu

The view from Palmetto Park Road

Fine French cuisine in an opulent setting make la différence


Dining room mural

La Nouvelle Maison is the quintessential Boca Raton restaurant.

Swanky, opulently decorated with well-spaced tables, staffed by attentive professionals, a list of top wines — even by the glass, well-made French cuisine, and yes, expensive.

It’s the kind of place to dine elegantly if you have a platinum credit card, or are celebrating a special occasion. For us, it was the latter, a milestone birthday.

An evening of fine dining starts as you enter under a porte-cochere, where a valet opens your car door. Inside the restaurant’s small vestibule a host, a gentleman in a gray suit, who sits at a small table, greets you. On a recent week night we were shown to our table immediately and soon were greeted by our waiter, our glasses were filled with water, and a plate of butter and a white paper bag filled with crunchy, yeasty rolls was placed on the table.

The restaurant, which pays homage to the late Le Vielle Maison, which thrived across the street for many years until about a dozen years ago, features an elegant interior with an oversize mural by New York artist Mark Kostabi as its centerpiece. The bar and another dining room equally provoke awe. However, we reserved just an hour before dining, so we were seated in a small, side dining room. No complaints

Our experience was not flawless, but satisfying nonetheless.

Except for a businessman holding court at an adjacent table, noise was a non-factor. And I was annoyed that our waiter pressed me a bit too often to choose a wine prior even reviewing the menu.

Roquefort salad

Lobster bisque

I started with Langoustine Bisque ($16, which needed a stir to bring up warmth from the bottom of the bowl where a whole langoustine tail rested. The rich flavor of the crustacean and that of the many shells that no doubt went into the soup’s preparation permeated the velvety broth. Langoustines also make an appearance in another appetizer, Langoustine au gratin a/k/a mac ’n cheese.

 A salad here is more than a bowl of lettuce leaves, my wife discovered. Her Baby Iceberg Lettuce Roquefort Salad ($16) was a creation bound by cucumber ribbons that included honey apple, Roquefort cheese, crispy bits of duck prosciutto and blue-cheese yogurt dressing. Sadly, consumption required deconstructing this tasty and tasteful work of culinary art.

Selecting an entree presented a predicament. Did I want seafood to go with white wine or red meat with a vin rouge?

Wines from premium wineries populate the wine list and the pricing is as might be expected, about 3.5 times retail. This being a special occasion, I splurged on two glasses, a crisp Vocoret Les Florets Premier Cru Chablis 2017 ($30), and later, a flavorful, buttery, spicy Xavier Monneot Meursault “Les Chevalières” 2014 ($40). (By the way for BYOBers, the restaurant’s $40 a bottle corkage fee is waived on Wednesdays.)

Roast Duck

Pan-seared snapper

With my wine choice made, I ordered the Pan-Seared Yellowtail Snapper ($38) served with a rock-shrimp lemon sauce, butternut squash puree (actually a large dab) and a medley of vegetables. This, IMO, is where the kitchen tripped up. The fish arrived a bit dry, but was rescued by a squeeze of lemon. (Our waiter offered a replacement after inquiring how our meal was going, but having already half finished the dish, I demurred.)

Meanwhile, Twice-Cooked Jurgelewicz Farms Duckling or Canard Rôti à L’Orange ($38), proved to be a bit of a surprise with its deeply colored, sharply tart Valencia orange sauce, instead of the cloyingly sweet sauce most of us have come to expect. The skin, nevertheless, was crisp as parchment with the underlying layer of fat melted away. The meat was tender. The kitchen, on request, substituted buttery mashed potatoes for the listed sides, red cabbage and black barley.

Chocolate souffle

Grand Marnier souffle

Dessert was an easy decision. For me, the Grand Marnier Soufflé ($18) made for an elegant finish with a tiny ewer of creme anglaise poured down the middle. The dessert was light and ethereal, yet rich and fragrant with orange flavor. My soufflé was served with a lit candle stuck into a strawberry on the side and “Happy Birthday” inscribed in chocolate on the serving plate. Chocolate Soufflé ($18), my wife’s selection (not a surprise given that she eats chocolate for breakfast daily) was equally decadent.

Soufflés are not easily found on restaurant menus these days. For that matter, French restaurants are not found that easily outside of South Florida, where it seems they appeal to an older, wealthier generation. I’m glad I found La Nouvelle Maison.

La Nouvelle Maison

455 E. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton



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