I can’t quite figure out why Indy has so few French Bistros. It seems to me that simple, French food would be something that Midwesterners could get behind. Honestly, the only place I know of that is doing it is Petite Chou, which is one of the branches of the Patachou brand of restaurants. And it seems like it would be a perfect match really, being that Patachou excels at simple, homey, comfort food. Why not just put a French twist on it and add wine?
So we went to the Petite Chou in Broad Ripple (there is also one in Clay Terrace) for dinner the other night with friends. They have a lovely outside dining area with some ceiling fans that cut the heat a little. I like that if you sit along the side of the building, you are not staring at the street, the tables are nicely spaced and there are some curtains and there is greenery. Feels very bistro-esque.
We started with a couple of appetizers—the duck fat frites and the pate. Wow, the frites were outstanding (one dining companion described them as “spectacular”). They were perfectly crispy, the thin kind, and nicely seasoned with salt (You have to salt these things BEFORE they come out of the kitchen or it doesn’t stick). They had a slight richness from the duck fat and we pretty much ate a large order in record time. They were served with an aioli and Dijon mayo sauce. I couldn’t decide which I liked better. The aioli had the tanginess I like, but was a little bland. The Dijon sauce has maybe just a teeny bit too much kick. I ended up mixing them together on my plate and was very happy. The pate was also good—served with very toasted sliced of bread that was also seasoned and some whole grain local mustard. The crunchiness of the bread was a nice accompaniment to the rich, cold, smoothness of the pate. Maybe not the best pate ever, not as smooth and spreadable as I might have liked, but still nice.
The bread they serve with meals is also quite nice—thinly sliced French bread served with nice soft, salty butter. They had this right on. Hubby and I also split a salad, the mixed greens with warmed goat cheese on top of toasted bread. It was served with blackberry pear vinaigrette. I appreciated that they split the salad for us, and the sweetness of the dressing was great with the goat cheese. It was properly dressed and enjoyable. Our friends shared the caprese which looked nice, although I love a really gooey mozzarella on this type of salad. I didn’t try this though.
At this point in the meal, we were thoroughly enjoying everything we had—the food was very good, the atmosphere was great, the wine (a nice white Burgundy) was perfect and the service was professional. Unfortunately, this is where things took a slight turn for the worse. We got our entrées, and we had all ordered different things. I ordered the scallops which were simply pan seared, served over what they call “pommes puree,” (which are whipped potatoes) with a caper wine sauce. The scallops seemed to be good quality and I liked the sauce—right up my alley with the salty kick from the capers and a nice wine and butter flavor. But they weren’t really seared enough. They weren’t crispy enough on the edges. I like pan seared scallops to be nice and caramelized—the crunch of the sear giving way to the creaminess of the interior of the scallop. These were just not seared enough. And honestly, I could have done without the potatoes—whipped potatoes are served with many of Petite Chou’s dishes. I think I would have preferred something else—maybe just some nice greens or something.
Hubby had the pan seared salmon and asked it to be prepared medium rare. Our server informed us it is usually prepared well done, but that we could order it however we wanted. Unfortunately, I think they just went ahead a cooked it as they usually do as the fish was very cooked all the way through. It had a nice crispy edge and he was given the choice of the potatoes or greens with his and chose the greens. He was happy with that, but wished they had cooked the fish the way he had ordered.
I also had a bite our one of our friend’s paillard, which are listed as specialties of the house. A paillard is a pounded chicken breast that is then pan seared. They serve them with several accompaniments, and he went with the pommes puree (more of the whipped potatoes) as well as arugula and a lemon pan sauce. I have to say, this sounds really good. But when you are pounding a chicken breast this thin (it was quite thin), you have to be really careful not to overcook it and make it tough. They cooked it a bit too long based on the bite I had. It was tough.
Finally, of course we had to have dessert, so we got two crepes and some cheese (wow, we really ate a lot). The crepe I ate was mixed berries with some chocolate sauce and crème anglaise drizzled across. It was tasty. Not overly sweet but with lots and lots of berries. The cheese plate was also nice, although I prefer my cheeses a little more stinky and gooey.
All in all we had an enjoyable meal at Petite Chou. Honestly, I think next time I would maybe skip the entrée, get another appetizer and my own salad and call it a day. The first part of the meal really stood out while the second half was a bit lackluster (the service fell off a bit too during the second half). The atmosphere is nice and the ingredients are good. They are simple yet high quality which is what it should be at a French bistro. Now why doesn’t Indy have more of them again?
823 Westfield Blvd