In belated celebration of Bastille Day, I figured I ought to finish off my thoughts on Petit Rouge, which we visited for the first time last weekend. I've noted previously how there is something immensely comforting to me about the classic French brasserie menu. Escargot, onion soup gratinée, frisee aux lardons, duck confit, steak & frites, potatoes sardalaise ... it's all good. Even though I have no real personal connection with the country or its food, I know this food, I enjoy it, and it's a true pleasure when executed correctly. Petit Rouge gets it right.
The menu was fairly close to the one linked to above with a few tweaks. We started with a tarte flambée for the kids to split as an appetizer. Tarte flambée is basically an Alsatian pizza, a flatbread topped with crème fraîche, sautéed onions and bacon, with perhaps a slightly crispier crust than the average Neapolitan pie. Petit Rouge's had a nice crispy crust, and a great mix of creamy, salty and sweet from the toppings. Mrs. F and I waited patiently for the kids to have their fill and then ravenously descended on what they left behind.
Though there was much on the regular menu's list of appetizers that was tempting, I was even more tempted by one of the daily specials recited to us - duck rillettes. A generous mound of rich duck confit, pulled and shredded and moistened with some duck fat, served with a nice little salad of frisée and other greens, along with some cornichons and olives and some croutons for shoveling. Nice, simple and delicious. Mrs. F started with a salmon tartare, done with nice fresh fish and all the classic pairings (chopped egg, capers, onions, a bit of crème fraîche).
I followed with another daily special, house-made boudin blanc. Boudin blanc is a light-colored, mildly flavored sausage, usually involving some combination of veal, pork or chicken, along with cream or milk. Petit Rouge's version included two gigantic plump links, served along with some nice mashed potatoes (rich but not overly creamy, and addictive) and braised red cabbage. Very nice boudin blanc, which I'd be prepared to say was possibly every bit as good as the one I had for breakfast at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Las Vegas.
The rest of our dining crew had an assortment of other items - bavette steak in a red wine jus with frites (and good frites they were), Scottish salmon with a provençal tomato sauce, frisée aux lardon topped with an oozy poached egg and a bacon vinaigrette, and a macaroni and cheese with a crispy topping of bread crumbs and golden-brown toasted cheese. All were done properly and hit all the right notes.
For dessert, Frod Jr. was, of course, sucked in by the immense gravitational pull of a flourless chocolate cake, while Little Miss F went with a tarte au citron. The chocolate cake was one of the few items that didn't really impress, striking me as a bit dry and underflavored.
The prices at Petit Rouge are also designed to please, with almost all entrées under $25. It was particularly appreciated that the boudin blanc special I ordered turned out to be only $18, actually less than many of the items on the regular menu. The wine list follows suit - we had a 2007 Jean Descombes Morgon for $35 which, while perhaps not a fantastic bargain from a markup perspective (the wine retails for anywhere between $10-20), was nonetheless a great price point, and there were several other selections in this range.
Petit Rouge is in a tiny shoebox of a space on Biscayne Boulevard just north of 123rd Street which used to house another French restaurant, the short-lived Plein Sud. Based on our visit, I suspect Petit Rouge is going to be there much longer.
12409 Biscayne Boulevard
North Miami, FL 33181