Brasserie Central is French, and that’s it. That's why we love it—and what makes it so different from many of Miami's other French options—which range from conceptual post-modern food that looks like an art major’s thesis to Cuban fusion. But you’re coming to Brasserie Central to slice into a perfectly cooked entrecôte with a haystack of frites and a boat of glistening béarnaise.
The interior of the Gables spot nails the brasserie aesthetic: a marble bar counter, charcuterie station, and narrow open kitchen. Specials and the rotating prix fixe menu are written on chalkboards, and nothing on the menu strays much from tradition either. This is where you go for huge portions of French favorites, like boeuf bourguignon or steak tartare—finely hand-chopped and seasoned with just enough of a kick.
But even if you’re not in the mood for a bottle of wine and a three-hour multi-course lunch break because your boss is très Américain, there are other ways to have a great meal at Brasserie Central.
Sit at the bar and order an apéritif, like la mauresque with Ricard, orgeat, Campari, and soda. If you need something to snack on with your drink, get the mousse de foie de volaille—the smoothest chicken liver mousse we’ve ever tasted—or an order of escargot in bright green parsley butter. Need something a little less heavy for a solo lunch? Order the salade lyonnaise, which has just the right proportion of lardons, poached egg, and vinaigrette. Or if you want to reward a young shopper for not throwing an absolute tantrum in the middle of Nordstrom, few things say “you’ve earned this” better than a plate of ice cream-filled profiteroles you get to drizzle with your own little dish of warm chocolate sauce.
Miami needs a place like Brasserie Central. It’s a nearly flawless example of not only traditional French cooking but the whole brasserie experience. And if it weren't for the unmistakable cadence of a nearby Miami accent, Brasserie Central does a wonderful job of convincing you you're in Paris instead of an outdoor mall in Coral Gables.
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Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
This is a standard but excellent French onion soup with enough melted gruyère to fill the Venetian Pool. It’s the perfect comfort food and so satisfying to run a spoon through.
Mousse de Foie de Volaille
This chicken liver mousse is unbelievably rich, smooth, and velvety. It’s served in a glass jar with a side of gherkins, pickled vegetables, and marinated beets. Just ask for more bread as soon as this dish arrives. You’re going to need it.
Escargots de Bourgogne
These are prepared in a classic Burgundy style: garlic, finely chopped parsley, and lots and lots of butter. The super tender snails soak up the flavors really well. Just make sure there’s a healthy pile of bread on the table for dipping.
Brasserie Central does this classic salad better than anywhere else in Miami. It’s in the appetizer section but makes a great entrée too. The frisée is crisp and slightly bitter. The thick, salty lardons and perfectly runny poached egg add richness while a mildly tart vinaigrette brings everything together beautifully. It’s one of those rare salads that feels light and indulgent all at once.
Brasserie Central’s entrecôte (AKA steak frites) is perfectly cooked to order with a nice crust. The fries are so good you may accidentally finish them before you’re done with the steak. But the crowning glory in all of this is the béarnaise, which is a textbook version of this tarragon-infused sauce.
Le Tartare Parisien
We like to think of this as summertime steak because it’s light, cold, and gives us the French equivalent of what Miami loves about ceviche: raw meat with spicy, bold, and refreshing flavors. The beef is finely minced and the accompanying matchstick fries are simple but exactly what you want in an order of frites: thin, crispy, and hot.
Boeuf Bourguignon Braisées
We’re glad Brasserie Central stuck to tradition with this, because this classic dish of braised beef in a red wine sauce is already perfect on its own. Brasserie Central’s version has a very rich sauce that is full of beefy flavor with just the right amount of red wine. The one modification they make is they serve it with a side dish of buttered orecchiette, which works really well.
BC Profiteroles Glacées
There’s just something special about cream puffs stuffed with scoops of vanilla cream and served with a side of warm chocolate sauce for drizzling. It makes us feel like a kid finishing a meal with a sundae—but in a way that says “you’re a sophisticated adult now.”