Friday, December 5, 2008

Duck, Quail & Risotto at Le Petit Cafe

Apparently the new Buttermilk Channel is closed on Mondays, so my boyfriend and I ended up at Le Petit Cafe (502 Court St., between Nelson & Luquer Streets, 718-596-7060) for dinner as we were in the area and too hungry to look for anything else. I've eaten here for breakfast and lunch, but never for dinner, and was pleasantly surprised. Le Petit Cafe is a bit of a weird place though. The front is an unassuming little cafe, with a glass enclosed counter with baked goods and during the holidays, a little train that runs on a track just below the ceiling, high above your head. But walk to the back and you find yourself in a whole other world. There are two huge rooms, set up to look like a grotto, complete with stonework, metal trees and all manner of plants and ivy climbing up the walls. There is also a new, outdoor space utilized in the warmer months. There are candles placed here and there, and the sound of a small stream or fountain adds to the ambiance, but I couldn't find the source. It is lovely, and it's nice to be in such a unique space, but there's something slightly off that I can't quite put my finger on.

Once we had ordered, we were given a basket of slices of crusty French bread and a dish with olives & roasted garlic cloves in oil and vinegar for dipping. The roasted garlic was a nice touch, and always a delicious little treat.

I ordered the salad of Poached Pear, Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts over Mixed Greens in a House Vinaigrette and the Creamy Vegetable Risotto with Crispy Basil. The salad was nice and flavorful, with plenty slices of pear and loads of cheese. The cheese though, was not as good as it could have been and was too cold as well. Lots of crunchy pieces of walnuts were scattered about the the greens were fresh and crisp.

The Risotto however, was amazing. It was creamy and loaded with uniformly-cut pieces of eggplant, carrot, red & green bell pepper, yellow squash and zucchini. It was cooked perfectly and the crispy basil was basil leaves that had been sauteed in butter so that they turned into crispy chip-like entities. This seemed to enhance their flavor and added to the hearty, comforting dish. The portion looks small in the photo, but I ended up taking home half.

My boyfriend got the Duo of Duck and Quail with Red Cabbage & Lentils in a BBQ Glaze. This was fantastic. The duck was served perfectly rare on top of the quail which was deliciously gamey. The red cabbage and lentil combination was delicious and the BBQ glaze, while it sounds weird, totally worked with all the flavors on the plate. This too was generously portioned, and half came home with us.

I really like this quirky little spot, and would definitely go back for any meal of the day.

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