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Petit Robert, Kenmore

After culling the encyclopedic knowledge of everyone here for months, I thought I'd finally chip in a review. Went to the Kenmore Petit Robert last night for a post-Sox start dinner, no wait at all for 3 at 8pm. We got two of the Salad Nicoise and a Beef Bourginoin. The salad was wonderful, a slightly heartier mix of greens with a perfectly cooked egg, new potato, and haricot vert with a decent-sized hunk of just barely seared and lightly seasoned tuna. I've apparently only ever had downmarket versions, since the anchovies were new to me - but what salty slabs of joy! The dressing was a creamy thick mustardy deal that went wonderfully with the spicier lettuces. The bite of beef I had was delicious, but at that point I was more focused on slamming in as much toasty demi baguette and butter as possible.

Since I'd been awaiting the dessert menu with breathless anticipation, I was disappointed that I seemed to get the dud of the three choices. The best part of the chocolate gateau was the two bite Eiffel Tower that came with it. The cake itself was dry, with a strong and slightly unpleasant alcoholic taste to it. DCs desserts were MUCH tastier - the Ile Flotant, which I'd never had, a flan-shaped meringue in a martini glass of creme anglaise and caramel mousse (appropriate, as I could have sipped the creme anglaise straight), and peach-stuffed crepes with poached peaches and a peach-almond sauce over the top.

Our server was wonderful (my only complaint is that he steered me away from the chocolate mousse and towards that cake), attentive and perfectly willing to indulge my Francophone friends while I attended to the baguette. I'll definitely be back!

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  1. That flotant thing is the shit.

    1. I was impressed with the bread also, they ship it in from Montreal.

      8 Replies
      1. re: chezchristine

        A Boston restaurant getting bread from Canada? That is really hard to believe. I've never heard of ANY restaurant getting bread from that far away. Why would they? How can it be fresh? ..Any place that cares that much about the bread usually makes it themselves. They bring it in frozen? Im a little confused.

        1. re: WineTravel

          I didn't ask how the bread is shipped, but since they serve it warm, they might finish baking it themselves. While I agree that restaurants are better off making their own, sometimes they don't have the facilities like a brick or wood oven in which to make truly great bread. It's some of the best bread served with a meal I've had in Boston. Since the bread is from Montreal, with some of the huge French influences, I'm not all that surprised that it's from there.

          I also think their prices are reasonable, especially since their lunch menu is served until 5PM and almost everything is under $15.

          1. re: chezchristine

            Makes no sense at all, given that they're barely over a mile from Clear Flour, who make one of the best baguettes in the US (not just my opinion - they won the US silver medal in the Baguettes and Specialty Breads category in the most recent international baking competition.)

            1. re: BobB

              It doesn't seem to make sense, but that bread is delicious. It's not dissimilar to Iggy's ciabatta, except I think it's a bit tastier. Wonderful for smearing with butter and mopping up every last drop of mussel broth.

              1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                My favorite meal at PRB! With a mixed greens salad and, a profiterole for dessert.

              2. re: BobB

                The baguette is freakin' brilliant. And yes, they do finish baking them on site. Last Valentine's day Husband and I were staying and cooking a fabulous meal. I called to let him know that our local (Canto) was out of baguette and asked if he could pick something up. He came home with two unbaked baguettes from Petit Robert. They let him buy a couple and told him what temp to cook them at. It was incredible.

                You really can't beat that. (And I personally think those are better than Clear Flour, but that's just me. Clear Flour is still good, though.)

          2. re: chezchristine

            I haven't been to the one in Kenmore, but the south end location is great. The prices are very reasnable and the service is always great! Love it.

            1. re: chezchristine

              i went to PRB when it first opened and my friends and i HATED it. every dish was horrible. after a couple years, we finally decided to give it another chance since we've heard many good things about it.

              i was there tonight and i LOVEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD the bread. i wanted to buy some but you're right, they ship it in from Montreal. bummer. i said the same thing to my friend tonight "dont most restaurants make their own bread? especially french bistros?" very odd to ship from motreal. and yes, they should just order from clear flour - they make the best breads.

              their foie gras tasted goog but was cold
              the escargo, lamp chops werent bad and the lemon souffle was great!

              the waitress was super nice and let me try different wines before deciding on a white peach bellini.

            2. The Kenmore spot is fine, but nothing more. Service lacks a certain polish and the food, while competent, is a very Americanized version of French Bistro. Prices are fairly reasonable, though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ShelT54

                For the price they charge, you are entirely correct. The crunchy, plain green beans and carrots made me want to never go back.

              2. We had an early dinner there a few saturdays ago and our waiter was also quite wonderful, and the desserts were divine. On previous visits we were too full for dessert... never again. my husband 's chocolate mousse was so good he would only give me a tiny bite and I was ready to growl if anyone took my iles away before I had scraped up the last bit. We complimemted the host on our waiter on our way out - wish I remembered his name - he was a young frenchman but not european and hope he's our waiter again - we're definitely going back.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ginnyhw

                  Hi Everyone:

                  I have to add my recommendations for Petit Robert too. One of the things I like about is that you can drop in at just about any time of day and get a good meal. They don't seem to have specific hours for lunch or dinner. On top of that the food has always been great too. I also enjoy the baguette and usually end up eating more of it than I should. I tend to stick to the daily specials most of the time but my favorite on-the-menu dish is the roast chicken. I also have to agree with the others regarding the desserts. I really like Ille Flotante, something you don't often find in the U.S., and their chocolate mousse. On top of everything else their prices are very reasonable for the type and quality of food they serve.

                2. Ok, here's my 2 cents. I mentioned this last year, but my experience there last year was terrible. Perhaps the account is still around. So many people rave, but IMO its just average. I have no reason to bo back there. If I needed a place in Kenmore Sq... I'd soon go to Eastern Standard (as long as it was an off peak time when its more laid back)... ES has improved things a lot in the past 6 mos.

                  1. Brunch- Nice post. Sorry soo many posters feel the need to try to talk you out of the nice meal and evening you had. Some people are brutal and very egocentric in their responses. Have a nice weekend.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: BostonBarGuy

                      BBGuy.... There's room to disagree. Ok, you tell me. They bring the wrong wine both for the white and the red... service was terrible in general. I get a steak that was stringy and tough... just about inedibble. At that point I figure I'd just call it a night, didn't feel like complaining and wasn't that hungry after their onion soup (which was vg by the way). But when the manager (I thought it was one of the Robert kids) came by to ask how everything was, I said, "since you asked, the steak is tough, can't even eat it." His response was, "yes, sometimes it can be that way.". No offer to get another one or some other entree. We were all stunned. It was a party of 5 people. We ordered their best champagne, best white, best red and a bunch of food ....so we were dropping a lot of coin in that place... not like we were trying to pull anything. In any case, we were all expecting a lot more based on their Maison Robert backround. So, still think I should be impressed? May be better now, but an experience like that sours you for good. Will never go back.

                      1. re: WineTravel

                        Who said I was referring to you? I guess if the shoe fits....

                    2. Count me among the fans, though I wish the South End location took reservations. Good, authentic, reasonably priced, much more like a true bistro to my mind than many such self-styled places.

                      1. I've had similarly good experiences at PRB Kenmore - but unfortunately, also much less pleasant ones, to the point that I will not be returning anytime soon. Undercooked rice in a cassoulet? How is that even possible?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BobB

                          I don't recall ever being served a cassoulet with rice in it. Certainly seems far afield of the very traditional preparations PRB generally favors.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Sorry, meant to say undercooked beans (note to self: rice = little white bits, beans = bigger white bits). It looked (and tasted) like they cooked the meats separately, then added them to the al dente beans at practically the last minute. Cassoulet that ain't.

                            My wife is a big sweetbreads fan, loved them the first time the first time she had them at PRB, but the next time they were chewy and partly burnt.

                            As I say, it can be great, but it's too much a roll of the dice for me.

                        2. I went last saturday night with a group (8 of us) to celebrate my birthday. It was absolutely one of my best experiences there. Service was wonderful, attentive and accommodating and every bite of food I tasted was delicious.

                          1. Their liver is great. Seriously. If you like liver you will love it. If you've never liked liver give it a shot.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: nightsky

                              The liver goes well with a little chianti.

                            2. I prefer the one in the South End. The kenmore has the tables too close together, the waiter had to bump into a friend's chair every time he had to pass through. In the South End, we dined outside and had a handsome French waiter.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: cigalechanta

                                Reviving this old thread because we are looking for a place to have Christmas Day dinner and this is one of the places with availability on Open Table that is not terribly expensive. 2007 response seems to be mixed. Has anyone been recently? Is it worse? Decent?

                                    1. re: BellatrixStar

                                      I go as often as ever - well, maybe slightly less often since Le Voile opened - and it's still that perfect neighborhood spot. A full menu, anytime of day, and a relaxed, welcoming environment with a waitstaff that seems sincerely happy to see me again.

                                      But I would not go for Christmas day dinner. I rarely even go during typical eating hours. This is where my wife and I end up, mid-afternoon, to dawdle over the pate plate or bowl of mussels, enjoy a glass of this and that and probably this again, maybe order up an egg dish, chat-up the waitstaff, eventually land on dessert, and stagger home several hours later. Casual, no frills, nearly directionless dining.

                                      On Christmas, I'm envisioning a too-crowded restaurant filled with too-formal patrons looking down their noses at this too simple, too rustic fare, as the waitstaff gamely tries but barely keeps up. Even if all you want is simplicity, a true bistro menu and a casual place to wile away the day, I don't think that's what you'll find on Christmas day. And that's not the PRB I love.