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Birthday Dinner - French Food

b
brooklynsavory Jan 14, 2009 08:01 AM

Dear Chowhounders, I'm helping a friend arrange a b-day dinner for her hubby, and wanted to reach out to you for expertise and recommendations.

Here are the parameters.

Location is brooklyn - Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope
Cuisine - french is his favorite - could be traditional or more experimental. Most importantly is it needs to something very memorable.
Price range - I'd say up to $100/person - and we're not big drinkers.

we will have about 7 people - so while it's not a large group, we might be too loud for a place that's very small and quiet.

Thank you for your help.

  1. v
    vatl619 Jan 14, 2009 08:30 AM

    Jolie or Bacchus on Atlantic Ave could be good choices.

    I would say Le Petit Marche on Henry Street in BK Heights, but it can be tight for a large group, so I'd call and ask if they can section off a roomy enough spot for your table. Their food is delicious and its cozy and festive.

    4 Replies
    1. re: vatl619
      j
      jdf Jan 14, 2009 09:23 AM

      My last experience at Bacchus was horrendous. The duck tasted as if it had turned and they got argumnetative when I sent the dish back (which was the first time I have ever done that). I think Le Petit Marche is your best bet. Food-wise Le Petiet Marche is very solid and is a nice setting. There is also Quercy on Court. However, although the food is good, I think the setting is kind of drab and not very "celebratory".

      1. re: jdf
        f
        Fleur Jan 14, 2009 11:36 AM

        Have any of you posters been to Petit Marche lately? We are thinking of going for a birthday dinner. It was delicious last year and I would like to know if it is still just as good .

        Walking by there, it doesn't ever seem crowded at all, in comparison with Henry's End and Noodle Pudding, right next door, which are always packed.

        1. re: Fleur
          j
          jdf Jan 14, 2009 11:47 AM

          No. Truthfully, its been about a year for us, as well. Perhaps the crowds have dropped becuase although the food is pretty good, it is priced fairly high (IMO) for basic bistro fare, whereas for the same price, Henry's End offers something a little more unique (especially during game season).

          1. re: jdf
            bobjbkln Jan 15, 2009 11:33 AM

            I've been quite recently (November) to Le Petit Marché and thought it was quite good. And there were only a few empty tables when we were there (7-8:30 on a Thurrsday evening).

            BTW: agree that one should stay away from Bacchus.

    2. malibu Jan 14, 2009 11:58 AM

      Bar Tabac on Smith? They have great typical french bistro fare. The Coq Au Vin there is a fave.

      1 Reply
      1. re: malibu
        v
        vatl619 Jan 14, 2009 01:10 PM

        i love bar tabac for a weeknight neighborhood dinner. i love the wooden insides and find it very warm and calming - as soon as i walk in i feel like i've already had a glass of good red wine before. however, i dont think i would describe it as particularly memorable. though admittedly perhaps this is because it is very close to where i live and i have never really regarded it at such. i do think, however, that the food is stronger at the other places mentioned thus far. but if you did look into bar tabac, you could see about that back room area to make it feel a bit more exclusive and closed off for your group.

        also re: petit marche - it has been at least a few months for me as well, but i did have a number of very strong meals there between 6 months and a year and a half ago, and hadnt heard anything about it declining in quality.

      2. m
        MShapiro Jan 14, 2009 01:53 PM

        I recommend Quercy on Court off of Warren. Its right between CG & BH. We find their food, wine list and service to be good and it’s a nice spacious place. Not quite sure what you mean by memorable – I guess it is? Then again I don’t really find anything in this neighborhood to be that memorable.

        1. oolah Jan 14, 2009 09:45 PM

          There's no memorable French food that I'm aware of in any of those neighborhoods, traditional or experimental (what's experimental french food? I'm intrigued).

          People in this thread have already mentioned all the decent French places. Bar Tabac and Jolie are both especially nice for parties primarily because of the lively atmosphere. Robin des Bois has quirky and memorable decor, but is not memorable in the food department.

          For memorable quasi-French food (aka New American), you'll do better at Saul, The Grocery or Stone Park. If you stay away from the fancy wine, you should be able to do fine in your price range.

          1 Reply
          1. re: oolah
            bobjbkln Jan 15, 2009 11:39 AM

            The Grocery is small and tables are crowded together. Both it and Saul will be at the upper end of your price range. You might also check out Pò on Smith Street. While it is Italian, not French, it does have a real Bistro feel to it.

          2. d
            doughreme Jan 16, 2009 06:48 PM

            Skip Quercy. Nothing special about it. The food is french, but it is boring. They have all of the cliche french food, but it seems to be stuck in a time warp. Went to Petit Marche recently and sorry to be negative, but it doesn't live up to the hype. I got a filet which was way overcooked, twice. Not worth the money. I think it is probably too tight for a group. I agree with the previous posts about Saul. Not sure if it is french in the traditional sense, but the food is tasty and interesting. The size works for a small group as well. Also, if they are willing to go to Park Slope, Applewood has an amazing menu that could be considered "new" french (is this a stretch, Hounds?) Food is certainly celebratory. Bar Tabac is good food, but not necessarily celebratory in decor. There is also Jack the Horse in Brooklyn Heights. Their food is pretty good and although it doesn't come across as a "fancy" place, the decor is simple and refined. Nice menu and great service. Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: doughreme
              f
              Fleur Jan 16, 2009 11:05 PM

              My brother and SIL had dinner at Petit Marche last week. They said their dinner was excellent, authentically French. The dishes are classics, and well prepared and presented. Their only problem was that the prices seem to have gone up quite a lot..

              There are not a lot of French options in the area. Applewood and J the H are not at all French in cuisine, style, or decor.

              Petit Marche seems to fit the OP's bill. It is really French, a real restaurant, not a bar or tavern, and the food is authentic and consistently good.

              We are planning on going there with friends next week.

              Here's hoping that real French food sees a comeback soon, and we can all partake of this great cuisine.

            2. g
              gpcohen Jan 17, 2009 05:30 AM

              It pushes your geographic limit, but consider Petit Oven in Bay Ridge (276 Bay Ridge Ave near 3rd Ave.). Small, maybe 10 tables. Great bistro style food-cassoulet, short ribs, crispy duck. Friendly attentive service. I'm sure the owner/chef would give you special attention.

              1. dawnfawn Feb 3, 2009 11:04 AM

                Henry's end is American food and also not too festive as it small and noisy. The food is good. Le Petit Marche has awful food and a dreadful atmosphere. Noodle Pudding is Italian and disgusting. Actually there are no really good French restaurants in Brooklyn. Sorry. Come into downtown Manhattan.For inexpensive and festive with wonderful service try Bistro Les Amis, Chez Jacqueline.

                5 Replies
                1. re: dawnfawn
                  m
                  MShapiro Feb 3, 2009 12:28 PM

                  "...Noodle Pudding is Italian and disgusting..."

                  Italian it is, but disgusting? Please explain.

                  1. re: dawnfawn
                    c
                    Claire Feb 3, 2009 12:39 PM

                    "Le Petit Marche has awful food and a dreadful atmosphere." I disagree. I've had several very good meals there and, while the room isn't large, the atmosphere is inviting. I haven't been to Noodle Pudding, but from what I've heard it's hardly "disgusting."

                    1. re: dawnfawn
                      f
                      Fleur Feb 4, 2009 12:06 AM

                      I have to object to your characterizations of Le Petit Marche and Noodle Pudding. You do not give any reasons why, or cite any dishes you have eaten there, or, in fact, how many times you have dines in these restaurants.

                      re: NOODLE PUDDING. Considering the long waits, and the faithful clientele, it is hard to believe your statement comes from actual experience.

                      The food at NP is actually quite wonderful. We go there fairly often, and have had dinner there in the past few weeks. Food and Wine are excellent, Service is good. The room is very convivial, very Italian. The only problem that I find is the no reservation policy, long wait, and, on occasion, the Cash Only policy.

                      We had an excellent dinner at LE PETIT MARCHE a few weeks back. The room is very pleasant, and the food is very good.

                      HENRY'S END has marvelous food, and a great atmosphere, lively and friendly, with excellent professional service.

                      Before you trash restaurants, think first. Be sure you actually are posting from recent recent experience and not just a drive- by attack.

                      1. re: Fleur
                        dawnfawn Feb 18, 2009 10:06 AM

                        You want specifics, ok. As a long time patron here goes: Henry's End. Food portions getting smaller. Overly spiced, to hide reheating of leftover food? Ice cold side dishes of vegetables. Dirty bathrooms and ceilings.

                        Noodle Pudding mostly inexpensive pastas that can be made at home for less money and taste like they came from a can.

                        Le Petite Marche, I want to like it. have tried four times. Wait staff has gotten order wrong every time. Wines on wine list never available when they are reasonably priced. Food not special.

                        1. re: dawnfawn
                          c
                          Claire Feb 18, 2009 10:38 AM

                          "Taste like they come from a can," dawnfawn. I don't think so. I've never had experiences at Henry's End or Le Petite Marche like you describe either. I've had several meals at Le Petite Marche and "special" is the word I'd use to describe them.

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