When you see escargots on a menu, a few things may cross your mind, the first of which might go something like: "Why would anyone willingly eat snails?"
Depending on your familiarity with the mollusk, you may already love — or by the same token have no palate for — the odd-shaped, gray-brown meat of these oversized snails. But whether you are snail novice or you haven't had them prepared the way you'll find them at 2-month-old Escargot Bistro in Oakland Park, consider giving them a(
"We named our bistro escargot because I simply love escargot," says chef-owner Andrea Martin, who opened the small French bistro with her husband, Didier, in a small shopping plaza off Commercial Boulevard in early October. "It has always been one of my favorite foods."
In France — where the couple hail from — escargots are purged from their shells and often cooked in a broth of garlic butter, chicken stock, or wine, then placed back into their shells and with a dollop of butter and sauce for serving. Of course, you can find them prepared in this manner (and several other traditional French renditions) at Escargot Bistro. But it would be a shame to overlook executive chef Jacque Bagot's specialty, a dish he's named Mille Feuilles d'Escargot, a savory twist on the classic French dessert made up of three layers of puff pastry, whipped cream, and jam.
As with all the escargots at Escargot Bistro, the snails in this dish are marinated for 24 hours in the chef's own herb and olive oil concoction, a trick that renders their meat supple and soft. The resulting garlicky sauce in this dish is almost as delicious as the escargots themselves, the perfect contrast to the snails' sweet, woodsy flavor.
Rather than finish the escargots with more butter and garlic, Bagot sandwiches them — along with sautéed mushrooms and spinach —between alternating tufts of his fresh-baked, homemade puff pastry. The dough here is almost as much of a draw as the escargots, a salty-flaky cross between Middle Eastern phyllo and buttery-rich croissant that explodes with flavor as it soaks up the snail, mushroom, and herb marinade.
Although a fork and knife would be the more acceptable way to tackle this dish, you could approach it like a fancy snail sandwich, taking the whole mess between two hands. It's the perfect meal for those days when an oyster
Escargot Bistro is located at 1506 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park. Call 754-206-4116, or visit escargotbistro.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.