Editor’s Note: After nearly two years of restaurant reviews, Art Huckabee has decided to put down his fork. We appreciate Art for the diligence, humor and care he put into his reviews every month. We’ll keep a space open if you find a restaurant you simply can’t let pass without comment.
By Art Huckabee
Frequent readers might be aware that I have been on a quest for Atlanta’s quintessential French bistro for quite some time. Friends recommended La Petite Maison.
We visited most recently on a Tuesday, one of the slowest nights of the week for restaurants, but were surprised to find a good-sized crowd. They take reservations, which earns high marks from me.
The space is configured in such a way such that it can easily accommodate couples, large parties and business diners with its assortment of seating arrangements. There’s even a covered outdoor patio where you can pretend you’re dining in Paris on the Champs-Élysées; admittedly a stretch for Roswell Road.
There’s a small bar that “greets” you when you first walk-in that also does double duty as a hostess stand. The owner and hostess extraordinaire was not on-premises this night, but the front of the house was expertly manned by two gents right of out of central casting for John Turturro’s butler role in Mr. Deeds. These two were everywhere at every time; one was a magician at pouring water which was quite entertaining to watch. Neither asked if they could change our socks; watch the movie.
Monday thru Thursday the restaurant offers a prix fixe menu featuring choice of a soup or salad, entree and dessert for $32. Not necessarily cheap, but the portion sizes guarantee leftovers for lunch the next day.
Only wine and beer are served. There’s a decent selection of French wines that are reasonably priced by the glass or bottle.
A plate of crisp French bread slices, a good olive tapenade and whole pitted olives are waiting at each table. Individually sized French bread loaves quickly appear and disappear just as quickly.
We ordered mussels in white wine. They were juicy, firm and plump but the sauce lacked seasoning. Our plan for sopping up this seafood “potlikker” was spoiled by its lackluster flavor.
The French onion soup (is it just onion soup when ordered in a French bistro?) was quite good with a cheesy crouton topping.
The salads are large dinner-sized portions that could easily stand-in for an entrée. In fact, on future visits, my plan will be to split a salad and split an entrée; there is that much food. The ingredients were fresh and the dressings were well made. Both the salad Verdi and the warm goat cheese salad were excellent.
The veal Normandy was the highlight dish. The veal was tender and the mushroom cream sauce, while rich, would make a shoe taste good. A side of stewed tomatoes and sautéed green beans was the perfect contrast. The “Gratin Dauphinois” was also crusty, creamy, “potatoey” good.
The sole “Chez Nous” was fried sole paired with arugula, Parmigianino cheese, tomatoes, basil and olive oil served with a side of fries. It’s an example of how those sneaky French can make you think you’re eating something healthy when it’s really just fish and chips; a good dish.
The steak frites “Parisien” was the single biggest disappointment of the meal. This simple dish can rival the best of beef. This version was “Plain Jane” and forlorn-looking lacking the juiciness and seasoning that usually makes this dish shine. The sauce on the side could not resuscitate the poor fella; it was DOA.
Ending on a sweet note, everyone enjoyed the Crème Brulée and the Profiterolles.
La Petit Maison, or “LPM” as the regulars call it, is a very good rendition of its Provencal cousins with just a minor hiccup or two. The restaurant is located at 6510 Roswell Road, NE. Call (404) 303-6600 or visit lapetitemaisonbistro.com.
Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot and food lover. Send feedback to TastingIntown@AtlantaINtownPaper.com.