MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Settled inside a corner of a strip mall off in Hialeah is an unlikely piece of Paris – a fabulous French bistro named “La Fresa Francesa.”
The story of this charming eatery is as delightful as the owners themselves.
Sandy Sanchez is a self-described Cuban foodie who met her French prince charming, Chef Ben, while they were both working in Los Angeles. Then Sandy decided she wanted to come home and open a restaurant right in the city in which she grew up.
“I love that you brought it home and I love that you helped her bring it home,” CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo said to Sandy and Ben.
“Yeah, I dragged him here from California and he said yes. I told him we are right across the river and park in a corner. He was like ok let’s do it,” said Sandy.
“Yes, there’s a canal over there like in Venice,” Ben said laughing.
What they’ve created in the past two years has become a bit of a phenomenon. On the rainy day Petrillo visited, it was a packed house and the feel is a throwback in time.
“We were really just trying to make it a piece of who we were and that was going to a lot of thrift shops, going to get this and that from mom’s house. We have mismatched silverware. Everyone always says they feel like they’ve left Miami or feel like they’re not in Hialeah,” said Sandy.
“For sure!” said Petrillo laughing.
While Sandy runs the front of the house, Chef Ben created home-cooked French food he calls, “Grandmas country style.”
“I describe my food as Grandmas food because it always hits the spot, always pleases everybody. People are very happy about the food and it’s really grandmas food,” said Chef Ben.
There’s French-Cuban influences like his goose liver pate with fresh guava and pistachios.
“The pastry with a guava and the crunch is like a dessert/appetizer,” said Petrillo after tasting.
Next up was the braised rabbit with Dijon, bacon, mushrooms and rosemary – a dish created by Chef Ben’s Mom.
“It’s not gamey. I was worried about it being gamey and with the sauce and the mushrooms make it heaven on a plate,” said Petrillo.
Next up was the “Quack Madam”, a play on the French sandwich Croque Madam but with confit duck inside.
“This has a little something extra. The confit duck is moist, wonderful, the egg is a surprise and the gooey Gruyere, a cheese, is something,” said Petrillo.
For dessert, it was all about the sweet and savory salted butter crepe.
“Who would think salted butter and powdered sugar would be magic? This is magic,” said Petrillo
La Fresa Francesa where the magic is in the air as well as on the plate. It’s open 6 days a week Tuesday through Sunday lunch and dinner and brunch Saturday and Sunday 10-4 p.m. Click here for more info.