La Petite Maison is a very attractive, stylish place. It also ranks up there on eye candy, as in people watching, and quality of food. So when I heard about a new Dejeuner D’Affaires (business) lunch special for $29 that included two starters, an entree, and an enticing selection of menu items, I was off and running. I enlisted a good friend who’s French, and whose uncle headed up the prestigious Cordon Bleu school to be my lunch companion. We both agreed the lunch was outstanding.
First, the decor as it deserves special mention. High ceilings, walls graced by art, a light color palette, “Belle Epoque” accessories, perfectly starched white tablecloths: I had a flashback to the glamour days of New York in the 80’s.That being said, today at the top restaurants you see the “ladies who lunch crowd” and well suited business people along with those who come in jeans, sneakers, and a t shirt or blouse.
The original La Petite Maison was founded in Nice, France in 1988 and has attracted a “who’s who” ever since. After Nice followed London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Miami and most recently Hong Kong.
Unlike many lunch specials, here there’s a wide selection of choices— seven starters no less and five entrees. The cuisine under the direction of Chef Patron Raphael Duntoye, leans to fresh and light French Mediterranean and Nicoise inspired food.
When you sit down at the table you’re served several ripe red tomatoes, a lemon and a bottle of olive oil to make sliced tomatoes as a before meal appetizer. For starters we chose the petits farcis nicois, veal stuffed Mediterranean vegetables; a classic ratatouille with a welcome addition of feta cheese; tasty and tender green lentils with a creative addition of small chunks of pink lady apples; and melt in your mouth red and yellow sweet peppers in a fine olive oil with with white balsamic vinegar. Everything was of the highest quality and prepared with a deft touch, which we found throughout the meal. Other options included salmon carpaccio with guacamole and fried squid.
For the main course I couldn’t resist the salt baked redfish filet with artichokes and tomatoes. The fish was uber fresh and flaky, and seemed to melt in my mouth.My friend opted for the rigatoni with cherry tomato, garlic and parmesan. It was perfectly al dente,and had just the right amount of sauce, which was obviously freshly made. Next time I’d like to try the roasted baby chicken marinated in lemon. For a supplement of $4.50 you can choose a side dish of vegetables or french fries.
We imagined the pastry would be equally excellent, especially since we heard there’s a five person pastry team in house so everything is made right there, including the crusty bread which we enjoyed. The dessert option for $8 includes ice cream, sorbet and cheesecake. But mais oui we opted for the tarte tatin, French apple tart with vanilla ice cream. OMG. The pastry was so buttery and flaky and the apples were perfectly caramelized. We oohed and aahed.
One can order a glass of wine for a reasonable starting price of $12. I chose the Sancerre, one of my favorites, which was $6 more, but a perfect accompaniment to my meal selections.
The Dejeuner D’affaires menu is available Monday through Friday from 12 to 2:30 p.m. There’s outdoor seating and valet parking, $5 at lunch. The special menu price is plus tip and tax. There are also additional menu items that come with a supplement.
La Petite Maison, 1300 Brickell Bay Drive; (T.305-403-9133).