With just two dozen seats tightly packed at dark walnut-tone tables on a terra cotta floor, North Miami newcomer Petit Rouge is as cute as a champignon. Owner Neal Cooper, who won many loyal fans during the past decade and a half with Neal’s Café and, later, Il Migliore, has made French fare approachable and affordable even for those who may not know a lardon from a lasagne. Cooper excels at turning out gorgeous, generous portions of well-executed food without rough edges, and he offers a greatest hits of French bistro fare. In addition to onion soup, moules frites, escargot, foie gras, salmon tartare, steak au poivre, sole meuniere, duck confit and roasted chicken, he also includes crispy veal sweetbreads and sautéed calves liver. Add such standard Americanized hits as Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, meatloaf and macaroni and cheese.
Ambiance: The setting is a classic Hollywood version of the perfect little French bistro. The walls are eggshell white, accented with red and black and dotted with gilt-framed mirrors and sweetly Gallic artwork. Daily specials scrawled on a blackboard over the open kitchen are recited with flair by a team of briskly competent, black-clad waiters while diners fill the room with bubbly chatter. Impeccable serves bring baskets of hot and crackly baguette sliced and served with generous pats of sweet butter and are quick to refill a water glass. They are also surprisingly knowledgeable about everything from the French-focused wine list to the delicious desserts.
What Didn’t Work
This dish shot of Saumon Tartare with capers, onions, eggs, creme Fraiche, and cavier. Photo: Carl Juste.