Saturday, March 3, 2012

Checked Off The List - La Petite Grocery

We went to LPG for the first time this past week to celebrate our "second" engagiversary- we got engaged on Leap Day (Feb 29) 2004. I've known Mia Devillier (co-owner, manager, and wife of the Justin, executive chef of LPG) since the Beers Not Bullets Event back in June 2011. The Devilliers are very close friends with Nathanial Zimet and I coordinated with her around Chef Nathanial's appearance at our fundraiser, and volunteered to help with the silent auction at her event, Beasts and Brass, held a few weeks later. They also donated a gift certificate to the RAFA-palooza last fall. So I've had many occasions to admire the Devilliers' dedication to the community, but for whatever crazy reason, we hadn't made it over there to enjoy Chef Justin's food and the warm hospitality of the restaurant.

Having eaten there, I am now kind of kicking myself for not doing so earlier!  Ah, well.

Sadly, my pictures came out too dark for publication.  Damn mood lighting!  Nice for eating and relaxing, though. The dining room is elegant yet warm, with beautiful tortoiseshell-looking chandeliers and pressed tin ceiling and walls in the front room/bar area. The bar itself is beautiful- a huge, dark wood affair that assures you that you are going to find excellent cocktails and hooch there. The conversational noise seems to rise above so that you don't hear your neighbors talking (unless you are trying to, I guess. Which I do not do. Hardly ever.) It was comfortable, yet still elegant enough for a special occasion meal.

It was a relatively short evening- Tom had been feeling under the weather all week, but was able to pull it together long enough to enjoy our anniversary dinner. But it was lovely. Our waiter, Kenneth, recognized me from my beer blog, which was unexpected and kind of cool. (Service was great throughout the meal, by the entire staff, btw) I felt a little guilty ordering a cocktail instead of a beer, but their cocktail list was too tempting to ignore. I got the Puddle Jumper: Bulleit Bourbon, St. Germain Liqueur, Dry Vermouth, Peychauds Bitters and a Brandied Cherry served up. A spin on a Manhattan. Mmmm. Tom had a Fuller's ESB.

Update: I somehow forgot to mention before the amuse bouche of a beautiful, fresh from the fryer blue crab beignet resting in an Old Bay aioli. Since I'd previously pondered getting the beignet as a starter before settling on the special, I was extra pleased! It was very rich and intense. One was the perfect amount.

For our first courses, we both had specials: Tom had a sweet potato bisque with mushrooms and country ham, which was not only objectively excellent, but also perfect for someone feeling a little under the weather. I had another special, a crab and potato dumpling, like a pierogi, with brown butter and "burnt" bread crumbs. God, it was good. I could go on about it, but just look at the list of ingredients, and it's just as good as it promised to be.

For our second course, we ordered off the menu. Tom had risotto with piave vecchio, mustard greens and soft boiled egg, which was, again, perfect upscale sick food! (This is a sincere, and not backhanded compliment, btw) I think a runny egg should be de rigeur for risotto from this point forward. I had the seared duck breast, which was probably the most tender and flavorful duck breast I have ever had. It was like slightly firmer foie gras, almost. I did not really get into the accompaniments of lentils, barley, caramelized fennel and ginger jus, but that was fine, the duck was the star. I had a glass of Rioja to accompany the duck.

Although the desserts looked awesome, Tom had hit the wall, so it was time to leave the party while we were still having fun. We'll be back for sure.

Next up: Magasin Cafe on Magazine Street!

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