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Best French Restaurant Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2007 - Café Claude

Café Claude comes as a blessed relief: Both atmosphere and menu are stubbornly, willfully oblivious to trends — it's like meeting a lost tribe of French people who've been living undiscovered in Deerfield since the end of the Second World War. The décor hasn't changed a thread since Mary and Claude Pottier opened the place in 1989, and enough time has passed that the drop ceilings, weird carpet, and silk plants exert a wry charm. By the time the cheerful French servers (all of them well-preserved ladies of a certain age in cashmere sweaters, knee-length skirts, and sensible shoes) get through with you, you'll be thoroughly won over. Delights are many, in a very classic French bistro vein: homemade duck confit with du Puy lentils ($12.95), saumon mariné with caviar, asparagus tips, and dill sauce ($12.95), or even a simple green salad dressed in luscious, creamy tarragon dressing (gratis, with your entrée). Outstanding specials might include a creamy, melting yellowtail snapper poached in lobster sauce with sides of skinny green beans and pommes Duchesse; or a slow-cooked cassoulet of white beans that have absorbed all the wild, unfamiliar flavors of sausage, smoked pork rinds, lamb, and preserved duck — and you'll be taking at least half of it home ("Eeets even bettair tomorrow"). Entrées can get pricey (roasted rack of lamb with ratatouille is $31.50), but prix fixe and early-bird menus are good value. A dessert cart wheeled around at the end is irresistible — pear tart with almonds, raspberry tart with custard, chocolate torte, cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries — and a porcelain pitcher of sweet cream tipped over your plate as the grande finale.
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