Gallic comfort food and a comfortable vibe make the meal at Escargot Bistro

Escargots tradition 

French husband and wife hosts, traditional bistro cuisine with a focus on snails, and a cozy dining room make this intimate Oakland Park restaurant a destination

We missed the turn into Escargot Bistro’s parking lot on the way to celebrate our anniversary dinner. After turning around after having traveled a half mile beyond our destination, we spotted it, tucked into a corner of a cramped strip center on the south side of Commercial Boulevard in Oakland Park. (The main attraction in this center is That Spice restaurant.)

It’s been our tradition to mark the day we tied the knot with a French dinner — we honeymooned in Paris and the Loire Valley many years ago. This year, we decided to venture a bit far afield from our usual dining haunts in the Delray Beach environs, making the 30-minute drive to this charming, casual bastion of French comfort food.  Part of our decision to dine at Escargot Bistro was the favorable exposure the restaurant had received in social media. And, despite it’s seemingly out of the way location, dining at Escargot Bistro proved to be a worthwhile effort.

Escargot Bistro’s interior feature 

Escargot Bistro sits in a strip center

Done on the outside in a bright teal, the inside is charming and cozy with ochre-hued walls, bright red chairs; white-clothed tables with black glass; a tall, wooden wine cabinet; a lengthy red-brick bar, and walls decorated with snail-themed knickknacks.

Owners Didier and Andrea Martin, who opened the restaurant with chef Jacques Bagot, in late 2015, are warm hosts, are constantly around, making you feel like family dining in their home.  They are the only servers here and their presence and their French accents just add to the experience.

The couple opened Escargot Bistro after they sold a cafe-patisserie in West Palm Beach, but faced with a non-compete agreement that restricted them  from operating in Palm Beach County,  they turned to Oakland Park. Veteran chef Bagot, who once owned his own restaurant in Boca Raton, joined them.

Our meal was a long, relaxed repast.

I started, naturally, with traditional escargot ($13.50), after listening to Andrea’s explanation of my choices —there are five.  The namesake dish, served in a traditional ceramic escargot plate, packed a garlicky, parsley butter character. So tasty, that I sopped up the remaining sauce with the crisply toasted baguette slices that topped the dish.

My wife’s three-onion soup ($7.50) — made with Spanish white, and Vidalia onion — and served in a traditional ceramic ramekin, was rich with caramelized onions and topped with a thin slice of toast coated with a thin layer of melted Gruyère cheese.

Canard à l’orange

Lemon Sole

For my main, I opted for the daily fish special ($33.50), in this case, Limonde au Citron Confit —lemon sole with a creamy sauce made with preserved lemons, and sides of  cauliflower soufflé, couscous and sautéed mixed veggies (zucchini, carrots and yellow squash). Lemon sole is a rare menu find these days and this flakey version of the delicate fish was just right.

My wife was mostly happy with her crispy skinned Canard à l’orange. a half duck, confit style, with orange sauce ($34.50). A bit tough, to her, It arrived with potatoes and fresh veggies but as she swept aside the accompanying vegetables, Didier took notice and asked if she’s like a second-helping of potatoes instead. She did.

Crepe au chocolat

Gâteau au chocolat

Picking a dessert proved difficult, at least for me. The Crème brûlée ($8.50) beckoned me as did the Chocolate mousse ($7.50), but I succumbed to Andrea’s touts of her own-recipe Gâteau au chocolat ($7.50), a warm dark chocolate cake topped with a  scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It was more brownie than cake. Had it been available with chocolate ice cream, by wife would have opted for it Instead, she jumped for the Crêpe au chocolat ($8.50), a lacy thin pancake topped with  homemade chocolate sauce  and whipped cream.

If I have a quibble it is with the wine carte, where the largely French selections are listed by varietal and origin, but without names or vintages. You’ll have to ask.  All are well-priced, the most expensive was a red Chateaueuf du Pape at $65. We had a German Spätlese Riesling from Fritz Windisch, which Didier warned, would be somewhat sweet. (I didn’t note the exact price, but I recall it was around $30 for the bottle.) Riesling is the only wine my bride will drink and it being our anniversary, we went with it. Riesling, to be sure, even while sweet, is a versatile food wine. You can also bring your own wine with corkage set at $25 a bottle.

As we left, Didier, aware of our anniversary, presented us with hand-painted bottle used to serve water, as gift.  A nice touch to a splendid evening.

Escargot Bistro

1506 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park


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