Prolific local chef brings French bistro cuisine to St. Augustine


Fresh on the heels of his most recent success, Chef Michael Lugo is switching gears for his next culinary adventure.

His flagship restaurant, Michael’s, showcases fine Spanish cuisine and wine, and his latest offering, Pesca Vilano, reflects the flavors of his homeland, Puerto Rico. His newest venture brings French Bistro dining to Florida’s Historic Coast. La Nouvelle opened Feb. 13 in the historic Jefferson House at 102 Bridge St. in the Lincolnville neighborhood in St. Augustine.

“There’s something so classically seductive about French cuisine,” said Lugo. “The fresh flavors, the contrasting textures of crunch and velvet smoothness, and elegantly simple ingredients – it’s comforting and transformative all at the same time. This new concept will take classic French bistro fare and infuse it with elegance – sumptuous yet approachable. I’m thrilled to experiment with these beloved flavors with a bonafide cuisinier. I’m thrilled to welcome Chef Matthieu Landillon, a talented chef from the coastal town of Marseilles, to the team. Chef Matthieu is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has a decorated career working with many notable chefs, including Gordon Ramsey and Michelin Star Chef Bjorn van der Horst.”

La Nouvelle is in a refurbished Victorian home in the historic Lincolnville neighborhood. Formerly the home of Preserved restaurant, the Jefferson House was home to Marie Jefferson Eppes Shine, the great-granddaughter of President Jefferson and founder of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The home lies within walking distance of no less than eight other historic homes, as Lincolnville played a significant role in the Civil Rights Act. The space features seating in the cozy dining room, the Southern veranda, or the lush garden patio.

The menu showcases classic French ingredients, perfectly prepared under the skillful eye of Lugo. Look no further for simple French perfection than the fresh house-baked baguette with creamy French salted butter, a true testament to “less is more.” Once considered peasant fare, lobster finds its perfect home in the decadent lobster bisque, warm and velvety smooth with buttery brioche croutons, tarte crème fraiche and glossed with roasted herb oil. The traditional Lyonnaise salad is a crave-able salad course with fresh greens, cradling creamy poached eggs and dotted with bacon lardons and a bright vinaigrette.

A quick scan of La Nouvelle’s entrees will prompt the need for multiple return trips. The Jambon Beurre Sandwich, Branzino Almondine, Sole Meuniere, Steak Frites and Duck Confit are just a few of the main courses. The humble potato receives three luxurious preparations – duck fat potatoes, pommes frites and pommes puree.

Irresistible French flavors like lavender, chocolate and orange, and praline are married with foundational confectionaries like eclairs, Paris-Brest, tarts and profiteroles.