Brooklyn, I’m Trying… to eat like I’m in Paris.
I know, I know. Me too. As a shameless Francophile, I’m often longing for the palpable beauty, the audacious nonchalance, the understated decadence, the untouchable chic of France’s capital city. I have never cowered to Paris’s inherent intimidation. Rather I have always waited, wished, and longed for Paris, and when I’m there, goddamn it if I don’t indulge, in art, in architecture, in music, in life, and in small cafes with delicate dishes and endless glasses of wine.
Bistro Petit is on the corner of Driggs and South 3rd in Williamsburg. And it is, mostly, a window; a window that I’ve biked passed so many times. Understated, you could tell that they are withholding some sort of secret inside. It’s seductive, the scene; foggy windows, a small and simple setting that you could tell speaks mostly of what is served. I was intrigued. After biking past one cold night in January, I had to figure out what was going on in there. I looked up the menu with frigid fingers as I locked up my bike and couldn’t believe that I found the words “foi gras” and “BYOB” on the same plane. As a self-proclaimed urban foi gras forager, and wine enthusiast on a writer’s budget, Bistro Petite seemed to be there, waiting for me.
I was there the next night.
Parking my bike outside, a Serge-Gainsbourg-esque man was sitting alone on the other side of the steamy window, enjoying mussels alone in the Frenchest of ways. I entered to find the most french experience this side of the Atlantic. Seating for 10, semi-comfortably. Kitschy, french-countryside-chic decor. An open kitchen and a chef who greeted me as I entered. I showed my date the Riesling recommended to me at Dandelion Wine, one that paired perfectly with seared foi, he promised. The Mellifluous Elements. My date smiled at me to reveal the flower of life on the bottle was the same one he had tattooed on his chest.
You know, sometimes everything falls into place. And sometimes it’s into a very small little place. On South 3rd Street.
What not to miss
The Foi Gras. Seared and served with grilled grapes and a smear of rhubarb gelee. The chef was almost as happy as we were to order it. “Do you smell that?” he asked before unnecessarily wafting the steam in our direction, just a few feet away. “Mmmm. God, I love it, the foi gras. I just love it.” And my god. We savored it in tiny bites upon brioche. I felt not worthy, of such a perfect dish. Delicate, decadent, seductive, elusive. Just the way foi gras should be.
The Burrata. Served proudly with heirloom tomatoes, regardless of the season. “We found them, and even grown in a greenhouse, they’re beautiful aren’t they?” the chef asked. It was a rhetorical question but he knew we agreed. The tomatoes tasted robust and pure, the burrata nearly melted on the plate. Even the flatbread, which stuck out like wings on this cherubic dish, were something to behold. And then, be eaten.
I can’t honestly speak for anything else on the menu. We were eating on a (relative) budget, and two appetizers and $50 later, we were satisfied by the richness of each dish that still sat pleasantly on our tongues as we finished the fragrant, floral Riesling. From the other side of that steamy window, I was almost certain I’d open the door onto some cobblestone street in Montmartre.
How not to miss it
170 S 3rd St
You can get to Paris for $310 round trip right now from New York and by all means, go. Go. But in the meantime, have a little Paris in South Williamsburg. A simple, unassuming setting, bold flavors, prices that don’t give a shit if you scoff at them and dishes that you will never regret. Bistro Petit.