Monday, January 10, 2011
if the palmist says you have green hands, you may end up on Isla Mujeres
If you have to eat on Isla Mujeres…one place not to miss in Diane and Victor’s Le Bistro Francais. Established in December of 1995, decorated with bright and vibrant colored tiles from Cancun, the restaurant was one of the first to point towards the future of the hike upwards in level of income of the average Island tourist. I remember going to Le Bistro Francais, with the excitement of the French restaurant opening years ago, for the baked potatoes. Diane was the first to serve them on the island. This year I popped in on Dec.26 right after my cold set in craving her delicious French onion soup, served with as many plates of fresh cooked hot rolls as the waiters can bring. For the budget traveler, definitely a meal in itself.
The trick to a good restaurant, Diane explains, is not the food, but the person waiting tables. She reports that many people have come to Le Bistro Francais over the years due to the charms of her husband Victor, who is also the chef. He learned everything from his wife, Diane, who had studied French cooking since she was seven years old. The people like Victor’s work and his food. According to Diane, lots of people come every year to see Victor. He always comes to the table to greet them with a smile and friendly words. This year my daughter wanted Diane’s French toast for our special New Years brunch. I had the delicious bagel with cream cheese, green pepper and garlic spread.
Le Bistro Francais has been written up in the New York Times (Jan. 21,2007, Patrick O’Gilfoil Healy)—the only restaurant covered in this NYT visit, according to the Minister of Tourists in Cancun who came over to congratulate her for being one of the two restaurants chosen to be written up in all of Quintanaroo. Her dreams right now include selling the restaurant with a mini three-apartment hotel upstairs so she can retire and write her cookbook. Years ago, a palmist read her fortune and said she had green hands and would live by the sea surrounded by water, so you bet she did.
Lonely Planet, the French tourist book Routeur, four stars in the Brooklyn Journal of Food for both breakfast and dinner—many experts have noticed this pleasant vibrant hideaway at Avenida Matamoros 29, catty cornered off the hustle and bustle of Calle Hidalgo’s nightclubs.
And no wonder. The food is always fresh and the vegetables always disinfected. You can come for the very popular breakfast from 8 am to noon, when the restaurant is always crowded in wintertime, customers even forming lines, according to Diane, waiting for the restaurant to open at 6 am, and for dinner from 6 to 10 pm. The unique fare includes flamed filet mignon, the garlic bread, the portabello salad. All has original sauce, such as the very popular mix of lemon and caper dripping on fish and the Caesar salad, which I tasted myself. Ditto the coq au vin, the special French cooked chicken, the recipe for which came from a famous French chef. You can find the most fresh lobster and shrimp brought by the same man who buys direct from the fisherman every day at the best price on the island.
Victor’s art on the menu, walls and ceilings shows he hails from Merida, with the primitivistic colors shapes—lobsters and fish look at you from the walls. He has been on the island since he was 16, when he came here in the Navy. Diane preferred his art to that of the professional she hired at first. Diane is French Canadian; they both know three languages.
Come to see for yourself and check out the affordable prices. You will not be disappointed. The unusual drink list is a draw too—imported French and Chilean wine, brandy, cognac, kahlua. Try the crepe suzettes, pastas and ravioli too. . Five caracols…the highest.