Sunday, February 15, 2009

Le Petit Marché

Natalie is a classy ol' broad from Brooklyn Heights who's been a dear friend for years. She claims Kentucky roots, but is actually a Park Avenue deb with hillbilly affectations. She's never set a foot in Kentucky that wasn't draped in a Prada shoe. But she's a woman of a certain age, and I defer to her in all things. We have an outing every couple of months. She's become a loyal fan of the Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show and Kiku exhibits. We always dine at Enzo's afterwards. I make the trek down to Brooklyn on the 2 Express whenever summoned and am always guaranteed a civilized cocktail hour and a good dinner. We split our time evenly between her beautiful apartment and some of the neighborhood eateries. Last night, it was Le Petit Marché on Henry Street.
I don't know myself at all. I'm always declaring Mexican as my favorite food, but I've spent more time and money in French bistros than all the taco joints and comensales in the world. Paris is my favorite city. Not Mexico City, not Zihuatanejo, not Guadalajara. I'm an enigma, or maybe just confused. In any event, I love Le Petit Marché. I'm always insisting that we eat there. You'd think I'd be surprised that the old girl obliges me as often as she does, but I happen to know she's just as fanatical about the place as I.
Eating out with Natalie is always a fun house sort of ride, but endearing. She'll get fixated on something and, just like a dog with a bone, there'll be no reckoning with her. For some reason she always orders a kir cocktail (crème de cassis and white wine) at Le Petit Marché. I've never seen her order it anywhere else. It's as adorable as it is inexplicable.
Wild mushroom pizzetaButternut squash soup
The regular menu at Le Petit is fairly straightforward, but Chef Dyner's (isn't that the perfect name for a chef?) execution is what sets the dishes apart. His French onion soup is perfection: molten hot Gruyère and tangy, smoky, almost sugary onions in a beautifully balanced broth. Damn. Dyner also does a Mac & cheese with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda and chorizo that just blows the competition away. But I was in the mood for something earthy, so went with the wild mushroom pizzeta - lots of tasty fungi, roasted red pepper and Gruyere cheese on a crispy flatbread dough. It's got a dash or two of white truffle oil, and you just expect your next words to come out in a heavy "old world" accent.  Natalie had the butternut squash soup, because Natalie always has the butternut squash soup. I like it very much, but it has all the spices that one associates with Thanksgiving and was therefore a little out of season for me.
MusselsHerbed fries
When we arrived at the restaurant, Natalie caught sight of a couple tucked into moules et pommes frites (mussels and fries) and wouldn't even look at the menu after that, so that was settled. The goat cheese-stuffed chicken medallions with ratatouille in a richly reduced herbed chicken jus sounded too delicious to pass up. To understate the fact, it was not a disappointment. I couldn't get Chef to reveal what exactly was in the jus, but it was intensely good. The skin on the breast was nicely crisped and the meat not too dry. It gave my two favorites off the menu: a huge and heartbreakingly tender lamb shank and the roasted duck breast a real run for the money. I won't think twice about ordering a special in the future.
Goat cheese-stuffed chicken medallions
One of Natalie's charms is her effortless ability to attract people, like moths to a flame. She's the perfect blend of impeccable manners and joie de vivre, and the old girl sure can draw a crowd. Our neighbors to my right started the evening eavesdropping on her chit chat and by the end of the meal were enthusiastic contributors to the conversation. All I had to was sit back and enjoy.
Leave it to me, the original creature of habit, to write up a two-year old restaurant. I can't help it though. I know what I like and know when others are gonna like it too. Make the trip to the Heights. It'll be worth it.
Le Petit Marché
46 Henry Street (between Cranberry and Middagh)
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11205

Open nightly form 5:30 - 11:00, until 10:00pm on Sundays.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food


Jeff (UK) said...

Damn you write well. Really. Perhaps because I can picture you both, and because I can feel the love you have for that old broad (hey Lal) coming through every sentence, verb, adjective, and vignette - bad order and structure there, sorry. Can picture you laughing, whispering conspiratorially, moaning over something delicious. I'll cherish this, along with Carol Festival nights, trips to Maine, 'losbert' sammichs, in my memory as if it were mine to share - like we were peeping in through the window at Le Petit Marche. Thank you -

Matt said...

So hungry... and I'm not even hungry!!! Those mussels just look to die for, and that's not my favorite bivalve. Oh, and I am currently hankerin' for some crisped chicken skin.