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SAGE, 2378 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale,  954-565-2299.

Well-prepared and very good French fare with moderate prices in a cozy and romantic ambiance

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By Jana Soeldner Danger

If a trip to the French countryside isn’t in your budget, you can get some of the flavors and ambience with a visit to Sage in Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant is tucked into a strip shopping center along busy Federal Highway, and you might miss it if you don’t know it’s there. Once you discover it, however, you’ll find a chic, romantic setting, along with memorable French cuisine created by Chef Laurent Tasic. For the non-adventurous, there are also some American comfort foods.

Born in Croatia, Tasic moved to France as a child, and one of his first cooking experiences was on the family farm watching his grandmother bake bread over a wood fire. Later, he helped cook meals at his mother’s bed and breakfast in Grenoble.

He studied architecture for awhile, but his love for food drew him to the restaurant business. After attending the Paris Cordon Bleu, he worked at places such as the Hotel Negresco in Nice, and the Pavilion des Princes at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. He opened his own restaurant in the 1970s just outside of Paris.

When he grew tired of fighting France’s cold weather, he moved to Martinique and opened a restaurant that drew celebrities and glamarati. He arrived in South Florida in the 1980s, and purchased Sage in the mid 1990s. A few years ago, he opened a sister to Sage in Hollywood.

The setting

Sage Fort Lauderdale is divided into two spaces; a narrow, cozy lounge and a wider dining room. Brick-faced walls, planked hardwood floors and soft lighting create a warm, bistro-like feel.  The smaller lounge area, with its intimate black leather banquettes for two and small tables, is a perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous. At one end of the room is a whimsical island illumined with a tower of candles and surrounded by six stools—an interesting spot to gather with friends. Like the lounge, the dining room also has an intimate, cozy feel. On the night we visited, a piano player wove a mellow musical background that spilled into both areas.

Sage is a place where you can feel comfortable if you want to dress up for a special occasion or come very casually attired if that’s what you prefer. The wine list is balanced, with a fair number of selections offered by the glass, and several interesting dessert wines.


The meal began with a basket of warm, crusty French bread served with basil-laced olive oil for dipping. Our first appetizer was a special that evening; small triangles of flavorful, scarlet-hued roasted beets were layered with earthy goat cheese and zesty pesto. Small chunks of fresh tomato and tangy balsamic vinaigrette completed the dish. The vivid colors made it visually arresting, and the combination of flavors and textures complemented each other nicely.

Even better was melted mozzarella wrapped in thin strips of prosciutto. The salty meat and creamy cheese accented with fresh tarragon contrasted beautifully with each other, and roast onions and peppers added a dusky smokiness.

Among the other starters are brie in puff pastry ($8); goat cheese soufflé ($8); escargot ($12); grilled artichoke with sweet peppers ($8); a pear poached in red wine and stuffed with gorgonzola ($9); liver pate ($7); quiche ($9); onion stuffed with veal and provolone ($9); and the obligatory onion soup ($7). There is also a selection of crepes ($10-$12); and a list of salads and salads ($6.50-$12.95).


Roast duck ($23) is a signature dish at Sage, and it was close to perfect. The skin was wonderfully crispy and bursting with flavor, while the inside was moist and delicious.  A honey raspberry glaze had just the right amount of sweetness to serve as an ideal foil for the rich taste of the meat. The accompanying roast potato slices were nicely seasoned.

Frogs legs ($21) were very tender, moist and fresh tasting. Lightly pan fried, they were bathed in butter seasoned with lemon, parsley and, for my taste, not quite enough garlic. Still, I would happily order them again. The generous portion arrived on a bed of saffron rice. Crisp-tender broccoli and half a tomato added color and texture.

Other entrees include bouillabaisse ($32); coq au vin ($16); coquilles St. Jacque en croute ($18); grilled salmon ($19.95; beef casserole ($15) rib eye ($22); filet mignon ($29); and beef tenderloin ($21). In addition to the roast duck, there is leg of duck served with garlic sausage and white beans ($16); or grilled duck breast ($18). Oh, and for those looking for American comfort food, there’s meat loaf with mashed potatoes ($17).


After our server cleared our plates (happily, he waited until we both had finished, a bit of good manners that is often lacking in restaurants today), he delivered warm, moist towels to clean our fingers. This is a nice touch that makes you feel pampered.

Chocolate cake ($6) turned out to be a duet—a strip of cake was chocolate on one side, yellow on the other, sitting on a puddle of sweet raspberry sauce. The cake was topped with warm chocolate sauce, fluffy whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Profiteroles ($9), similar to an eclair, consisted of two lightly toasted, large puff pastries filled with rich vanilla ice cream and topped with dark chocolate sauce, plenty of crunchy toasted almonds, and fresh strawberries and raspberries.

Other desserts include banana pudding ($7); chocolate crepe ($7); bananas Foster crepe ($7)’ cheese cake ($8); crème brulee ($8); apple pie a la mode ($8); and chocolate volcano ($8).

Sage has a cozy, appealing ambience that is ideal for a special occasion, a romantic interlude or a casual night out with friends. French fare is well-prepared and very good, and prices are moderate. Servers are knowledgeable and professional.  It’s a place to which I plan to return.


              SAGE, 2378 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL      


Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Appetizers $5-$14; entrees $14-$29; desserts $7-$9

Ambience: Chic and cozy

Service: Professional

Cards: All major