tous celebres ici!

Having just emerged from MOMA and taking in Monet’s water lilies, I suppose we were predisposed to find a restaurant called La Petite Maison.

My favorite french place in the city is a little place in Chelsea called Gascogne. I mostly like it because everyone working there is actually French. And most of the people sitting at the bar are French ex-pats come in for a taste of home.

While our waiter may have been Croatian and the art was decidedly American (come on, Michael Jackson’s shoes bedazzled with Swarovski crystals?) that didn’t take away from feeling like I was in France. Despite their indifference, the French like kitsch too. And that is thanks to owner Nicole Rubi who recently opened her latest location of La Petite Maison in the previous Aquavit space.

Despite the fact that we were the first to arrive for the early bird special (we had theatre tickets that night) we were welcomed in and given the right amount of attention. They weren’t hovering over their only customers but weren’t ignoring us either. They have a decent selection of wines by the glass (but curiously not French) at reasonable prices. While the restaurant has the initial feel of traditional French fine dining, that perception disappeared when they brought the bread to the table in a paper bag. I love a restaurant that can have fun with itself!

The appetizer menu (or entree, if we’re really in France) was a smorgasbord of opportunity. Literally, there are two options of an array of apps featuring items from the South of France and, more specifically, Nice. The a la carte menu presents a variety of salads, carpaccio’s, fried dishes and cheese. We decided on the bone marrow with toast, much to our delight. It was served with two condiments; fresh whole grain mustard and a tomato “salsa”. It was delicious with either, with both and on it’s own!

My favorite part of the menu was the selection of dishes for two. We shared a whole chicken. While the menu states that will take 45 minutes of preparation time, it seemed to be much quicker. Maybe that’s because we were enjoying our appetizers and wine so much! The chicken was brought to our table just lightly browned for our approval before carving it up. The potato puree was as creamy as it gets (even gives Joel Robuchon a run for his money) although I have to go back to try the Rosemary Fries.

We finished off the evening with our complimentary glass of limoncello. Nothing screams Mediterranean to me more than that. Do yourself a favor, step into La Petite Maison one evening, and even for just a few hours, take yourself away from New York.

Vital Stats:
13 W. 54th St (between Fifth and Sixth Aves.)