Palme d’Or, The Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables

1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, 305.913.3200



left: Pastry chef  Olivier Rodriguez, right: Chef Grégory Pugin 


Palme d’Or, inside The Biltmore Hotel

1200 Anastasia Avenue in Coral Gables.

call 305.913.3200 for reservations.

Hours of operation: Open for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday from 6 to 10:30 p.m.

For more information:  visit http://www.biltmorehotel.com/dining/palme_dor.php     



























by Simone Zarmati Diament

photos: SFG

The beautifully decorated restaurant Palme d’Or at the Biltmore hotel, one of the loveliest settings in Coral Gables, overlooks one of the grandest pools in the world where, for those of us old enough to remember, Esther Williams staged her famous aquatic ballets and where Olympic gold winner, the  champion swimmer and movie star Johnny Weissmüller (Tarzan in films of the 1930s and 1940s) used to be a life guard.

However, what makes it the perfect spot for a well-dressed, romantic evening is Chef Grégory Pugin’s cuisine which he offers in prix-fixe tasting menus, one of which we sampled last week. ( For more information on the tasting menus log on to:  http://www.biltmorehotel.com/dining/palme_dor.php)

Chef Pugin’s dishes are meant to deliver a slice of France on lovely tableware.  His cooking with a twist on the French rustic country recipes  can be so delicate and refined that it could veer towards the coquettish were it not for his judicious use of ingredients and the impeccable techniques he applied at Joêl Robuchon’s l’Atelier in New York City and at Le Cirque in The Bellagio in Las Vegas, two star restaurants where he worked as the Executive Chef.  


Nothing could be simpler or more lovely than Kumamoto Oyster over lemon gelée and fennel purée served in a porcelain oyster and  paired with a refreshing  flute of Champagne, except the following dish.

Kumamoto Oyster over lemon gelée

The Salade Tiède de Pomme de Terres; a warm new potato salad with smoked salmon, lemon cream and golden Osetra caviar, a simple yet great dish that respects the natural taste of each item on the plate, could only be as good as the ingredients that compose it.

Salade Tiède de Pomme de Terres

Another engaging starter is the suave La Saint-Jacques, a single, sweet, delicately cooked scallop arriving in a nage of corn and drops of beets and lemon sauce.

La Saint-Jacques, scallop and corn degustation 

Chef Pugin’s  delightful “garbure à la truffe noire” is a far cry from the hearty stew of meat, bean and cabbage soup, a tradition in the South of France.  Clean cut and simple, it is a tender green, perfectly cooked cabbage leaf stuffed with foie gras, black truffle, carrots and celery, set over an unctuous Tarbais bean purée (the ultra-creamy Tarbais beans are the quintessential ingredient in a hearty cassoulet).  At once rich and satisfying, it definitely called for a Meursault.

garbure à la truffe noire

The menu continued with an uninspired dish of Spanish origins, pulpo con chorizo, a less exciting octopus-wrapped fillet of Dover sole roll stuffed with spicy chorizo set alongside a slice of plump potato topped with tomato confit and paprika aioli.  Thenfollows Le Boeuf Kobe du Japon A5+ with carrots, accompanied by a little crock of parmentier,  a potato mousseline layered with  pulled braised Kobe beef cheeks in a delicious daube sauce sparked with old balsamic.

To top the gastronomic pleasure, pastry chef Olivier Rodriguez, another Frenchman from Annecy in Haute Savoie, in the North East of France, concocts elaborate and unique constructions like Le Citron Vert au Basilic or La Framboise, a raspberry consommé with strawberry poppy seed sorbet.

Click here for the different tasting menu prices and options as well as for more information. http://www.southfloridagourmet.com/index.php/component/tags/tag/11-gregory-pugin.html

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