10/6/11

Food Like Your French Grandmother Makes

I have nothing against Brooklyn (other than the subway always seems to break down or not come every time I'm there), but I don't usually just go for a wander. I have to have a specific plan and I usually stick to it. Well, if you're like me at all in this manner (and you have an insatiable appetite for amazing food), head to Carroll Gardens and find a table at Sue Perette, a cute little French bistro on Smith Street.

I was invited by the owner, Benoit who grew up in the south of France where he learned culinary traditions from his grandmother and mother. This inspired him to open his own restaurant in NYC after he came for a visit and fell in love with the city. Named after both his grandmother and mother, Sue Perette was designed to bridge the gap between the French bistro and the high-end restaurants in Brooklyn. They specialize in dishes from all areas of France, featuring a new region every month, and make everything from fresh ingredients using organic and local products. Head chef, Gustavo, worked in different NYC French restaurants, like Cercle Rouge, before coming to Sue Perette. 

On the night I went for dinner I was pleased to note the restaurant's special for 50% off all wine bottles every Thursday. Arriving on the early side, I saw the restaurant fill up through the course of the night with couple's on romantic dates and groups of girlfriends gabbing away their stresses over good food and a glass of wine. The rustic chic decor, with rotating art exhibits and chalkboards, has the transportive power to take you certainly out of Brooklyn, and possibly out of NYC as well. The dim candlelit setting masks any troubles you walked in with.

After taking a few sips of my refreshing Rose, Benoit outlined the menu for us and highlighted some of his favorite dishes including the Raclette appetizer ($11) and the beef cheeks entree ($19). My guest and I settled on the special appetizer -- bacon wrapped quail with stone fruit -- and the mushroom bruschetta ($9) to start. If there's any way to start a meal, it's with these two dishes. They get right to business. The quail was super tender and the figs and peaches served with it were perhaps the tastiest I had ever bitten into, with hints of cinnamon that ultimately allowed the true flavor of the fruit to really shine. The mushrooms, oh the mushrooms, were a combination of oyster, shitake and crimini sauteed with truffle oil (my fave!) and served on crunchy bread. Again, this was a simple dish that really allowed the mushrooms to take center stage.

Bacon Wrapped Quail with Stone Fruit
Mushroom Bruschetta
For dinner, we decided we'd be adventurous and try the beef cheeks 1) because that's their specialty and 2) because I could not recall ever having eaten this part of a cow before. Wrapped in savoy cabbage, the tender beef is served in a red wine sauce with fried creamy dauphine potatoes, otherwise known as one of the best ways I have ever had potatoes prepared. I'm sorry to say I'm not a huge cabbage fan, but other than that I definitely enjoyed this dish. The beef melted in my mouth and I could have eaten a whole plate of those potatoes with the delicious sauce. The second entree we tried was the cassoulet of duck confit, pork belly and pork sausage served over slow-cooked white bean stew ($24). I really enjoyed this dish and could totally see it hitting the spot on a cold winter day that will be inevitably coming our way in a few short months. By this point we had switched from Rose to Cuvee and I would highly recommend a glass of this delicious red to go with your cassoulet. 
Beef Cheeks with Red Wine Sauce and Dauphine Potatoes
Cassoulet of Duck Confit, Pork Belly and Pork Sausage over Slow-Cooked White Bean Stew
For dessert, Benoit had us sample the beignets and the chocolate torte. While the beignets were a bit on the heavy side for me (I'm afraid nothing will ever compare to the ones I tried at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans), the chocolate torte was out of this world.


Beignets
Chocolate Torte
Overall, the food at Sue Perette is simple and allows the stellar ingredients to stand out without too much fanfare. If you need a first, second or twentieth date spot, I'd highly recommend it for some quiet and romantic conversation. If it's a light bit and some liquid comfort you are looking for, check out their $20 special for 2 glasses of wine and an appetizer all night every day. Their brunch menu looks amazing as well. Now if only the Brooklyn subways would work for me before my Sunday morning hunger pains kick in...


Sue Perette on Urbanspoon

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