A French-American Bistro Called Café Auribeau
By: Skip Sheffield
BOCA RATON — What exactly is the new restaurant Café Auribeau at 209 SE First Ave, Boca Raton?
For one thing, it is unique, like its owner-chef Allan Seiler. For another, it can’t be pigeonholed into any one particular style.
“We say it’s a French-American bistro,” explains Seiler one sunny morning before lunch. “It’s hard to pin down. Stylistically, brunch is pretty much American-inspired. For lunch you have to present things that are easy and fast to eat: sandwiches, hamburgers and so forth. We are still adding and taking things off the dinner menu. I’m not one to shy away from trying anything, but my first love is French.”
“Auribeau” is French for “beautiful surroundings.” It is also the name of a small French village about 10 miles north of Cannes.
“I absolutely fell in love with that beautiful little medieval village,” Seiler declares. “When I was thinking of a name for the restaurant, I thought nobody will have this name.”
On a recent visit for dinner I tried one of the house specialties: Short Ribs Bourguignon. In addition to French and American entrees, you’ll find entries with Moroccan and Algerian influences. Our charming Argentine waitress, Alex, told us the portions were very generous. She was right. I had a second meal of the savory traditional French meal of braised shoulder of beef in burgundy wine sauce with pearl onions and cremimi mushrooms with creamy polenta. It was still delicious the next day. However, it is a highly caloric combo.
My friend ordered Paparadelle with wild mushroom cream sauce and grilled chicken. She too had a second meal from a carry-home container, though she said it was nothing earth-shattering.
Open just since March 3, Café Auribeau is very much a work-in-progress. Chef Seiler told me he offered red snapper Grenoubloise as a special over the weekend and it was a big hit.
“It’s evolving,” offers Seiler. “There is a certain amount of trial and error. We want to deliver what people want.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Alan Seiler was an “Air Force Brat” with an American father and a Scottish mother. As the child of a USAF officer he lived all over the world, including New York City, London, Hong Kong and of course France.
Seiler has had a passion for cooking since he was a teenager. He started working in restaurants while still in high school and continued through college, where he was a dual major in French and Political Science at Wittenberg (Ohio) University. His love for France was sealed when he spent his junior year abroad there.
One of his more notable credits was founding a wholesale bakery in London that delivered baked goods to Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, the oldest retail store in London, established in 1707 and frequented by royalty.
Seiler is a dual citizen of the U.K. and the U.S.A. When he wearied of the damp, dreary weather in London, he sought a complete change and came to South Florida. He first lived at South Beach, but he found it too noisy and frantic. Boca Raton is much more to his liking.
“Boca Raton has an interesting mix of people,” he notes. “I wanted a cozy restaurant that exudes an unpretentious easy chic ambiance. The cuisine is fresh, simple and honest. It is good food prepared with the finest produce.”
Hours are 12-2 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. brunch and 5:30-9 p.m. dinner Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch Sunday. Closed Monday.