Le Val de Loire is a quaint, unassuming French restaurant and creperie at the Cove Shopping Center in Deerfield Beach. Reminiscent of the casual brasseries in France where the dishes taste as fresh and familiar as home cooked meals, Le Val de Loire’s clients are sure to call the chef and owner, Fabrice, a few days in advance to request a bouillabaisse or a special dish that they may want. If it’s a bouillabase that is requested, then it will surely be one of the specials on the menu that day. Simple and traditional in its style and preparation, Fabrice’s dishes are undemanding on one’s wallet. And I would assume that it’s by word of mouth that a thirty years-old restaurant has survived all these years in a strip mall.
One could imagine Le Val de Loire situated at a discreet, neighborhood street in the Left Bank of Paris. It would be a place where the locals dine, where the servers would be on a first name basis with the customers. It would be where you would go to get good French bourgeois cuisine in a comfortable ambience without too much fanfare. And although Le Val de Loire is not in one of the charming streets of Paris, it does have a certain charm that only French restaurants always seem to have. Just as a French woman with a pair of jeans, stilettos, and a red scarf wrapped around her neck seems naturally stylish and mysterious without trying too hard, Le Val has an understated charm in its simplicity. A large chandelier, hardwood floors, warm wood paneling with framed French motif posters line the walls, a lit Eiffel Tower greets the entranceway and bottle of red wine sits on each table.
Although unplanned, it was a propos that we came on Bastille Day, one of the big French holidays. Diane, a blond waitress who has been working there for twelve years, seemed to be able to serve multiple tables without missing a beat. With her no nonsense, direct demeanor, I watched her greet the customers with a kiss on each cheek and a warm bonjour as they entered the restaurant.
After being seated, we met Nadine, the owner, an attractive blonde with a mellifluous voice. She told us that she met Fabrice in Switzerland where they were neighbors, fell in love, got married and moved to Miami. “My dream was to live here,” Nadine said. “And I found out that it was also his dream to come to the United States.”
When the mad rush was over, Fabrice finally came out to talk to us. In a gentle, soft voice, he spoke to us in French about his life and how he knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue a career in the culinary field. He studied at a cooking school in Dijon at fifteen years old and worked many years in Paris and Switzerland until he came to the U.S. “Cooking was my passion I discovered when I was young,” said Fabrice. “It gives me pleasure to give others pleasure with my cooking.” He worked as a chef at Les Halles, the French Brasserie in Coral Gables, then four years ago bought Le Val de Loire and moved to Deerfield Beach. “Miami was too crazy for us. I love it here,” said Nadine. Unlike many chefs, Fabrice cooks whenever he’s at home. “I think that he cooks because he doesn’t trust me! If he doesn’t want me to poison the family, he better cook! she added.”
And then the feast began with a beautiful endive salad ($6.95) of endives and arugula, blue cheese, walnuts and a side of dijonaise dressing that was light and delicious and a generous portion enough for two people. The homemade pate maison ($7.95), served with cornichons, was just like the pates in France and heavenly on the crunchy French bread! We shared two main courses—the Salmon au Beurre Blanc ($18.95) and the Filet Mignon au Poivre ($24.95.) The salmon was perfectly cooked, with lemon and white wine sauce, served with rice, spinach and a stuffed tomato provencale. Not too seasoned, yet not bland, the dish reminded me of a homemade meal you would have at someone’s house in France. The filet mignon was served with a brandy, demi-glace and peppercorn sauce, fried eggplant, and mashed sweet potatoes. It was a treat to have a variety of vegetables, as well as nice size portions.
Everything in this restaurant is homemade including the French fries which they hand cut fresh everyday. Nadine says that some people come just to have the fries! “We have never seen so many tables order French fries in one restaurant. They must be worth trying!” she exclaimed.
The desserts are also all homemade, and I must say that the Napoleon ($4.95) was one of the best that I’ve ever had! The pastry was light and flaky and the cream was sweet without being overpowering. Aside from adding a variety of crepes to the menu, Fabrice basically kept the original menu to satisfy the loyal clientele of many years.
The menu consists of the traditional French dishes such as beef bourguignon, filet of sole meuniere, and roast duckling a l’orange, as well as other dishes that most French cuisine lovers would enjoy, such as chicken, seafood, and vegetables crepes and other dessert crepes. All the entrée items can be ordered a la carte or as a complete dinner for a few dollars more which include dessert, tea or coffee.
For those hungry early birds, there is a sunset menu served from 4:45pm to 5:45pm for a very reasonable price. The menu can be viewed at http://le-val-de-loire.com. The restaurant is open every evening except for Sundays during the summer and open for lunch every week day for crepes, sandwiches, salads as well as hot entrees.
Le Val de Loire is located on 1576 SE 3rd Court, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. Tel: (954) 427-5354
(This article is for promotional purpose only)