Le Petit Oven: A Quaint French Bistro

I have wanted to try Le Petit Oven, for a long time. Tucked away on a formerly residential block – right off of busy Third Avenue in Bay Ridge – is a quaint, 11-table French bistro.

My husband and I have tried to dine here before – one time was at our last date night, about which I wrote in December. We had a rare opportunity to have a night alone and we (naively) thought we could get a table on a Saturday night at 8 pm. Another time we tried, we had baby with us and realized that we would experience this restaurant more fully if we weren’t picking up toys and Cheerios off of the floor the whole night.

So we finally had another opportunity! We thought French cuisine would be the perfect compliment after a matinee of Les Misérables.

Le Petit Oven is a real gem in Bay Ridge. Co-owned by Nicole Guarino and Katarzyna Ploszaj, Katarzyna is the chef who came to America in 1987 after living on a farm in Poland. She learned business aspects from her mother, who had a catering company. Her interest in cooking lead her to the French Culinary Institute. She worked in restaurants such as Jean Georges’ JoJo Restaurant.

Katarzyna uses locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms to make an elegant menu that changes seasonally. What else do you expect from a chef who was a contestant on Chopped? (A cooking competition show where contestants have seconds to plan and 30 minutes to cook a course with a basket of mystery ingredients. She did not win, but you’d have to be a pretty resourceful chef to even compete.)

The A la Carte menu ranges from $15 to $30, but the 3 course Prix Fixe is a steal at $35.

Some of the appetizers have been:

  • Whipped Brie, Malbec Poached Blueberries, Davis Ray Honey with Walnuts
  • Fluke Ceviche, Jalapeno, Watermelon, Shallot
  • Salmon Tartare with Horseradish Dijon Cream, potato latke
  • Escargots A la Bourguignon

Some of the entrees:

  • Pan Roasted Amish Chicken, Braised Southern Greens, Chantarelle-Truffle Risotto
  • Homemade Gnocchi Ox Tail Ragu, Crispy Parsnips
  • Sole Meuniere with Citrus Scented Jasmine Rice
  • Crispy Duck Breast, Pineapple Jalapeno Confit

My husband ordered mussels in white wine for an appetizer and duck breast as an entrée. The mussels were the perfect texture, as was the duck, which was over a bed of lentils. I had a salad of local greens, fried shallots, bacon and a poached egg, which was probably the best salad I’ve ever eaten! For the entrée, I ordered the slow baked salmon with truffle puree and soy butter over mashed potatoes. The moist salmon and silky potatoes melted in my mouth.

The homemade bread pudding with salty caramel sauce and walnuts is a popular creation of Katarzyna’s. We had this and the fallen chocolate soufflé. I can see why the bread pudding is so popular – chocolatey, salty and not too sweet. As someone who considers chocolate a food group, this soufflé was superb. A crispy chocolate exterior with a creamy center was enhanced by vanilla ice cream.

One negative comment from reviewers online is that the portions are too small. As a dietitian, I’ll say that the portions are appropriate. If you need to leave a restaurant in a food coma, visit a different kind of restaurant. Another comment was that the food was salty – and this, I have to agree with. I love salt, but I did feel the food was definitely heavy on the shaker.

Katarzyna cooks in an open kitchen, which adds to Le Petit Oven’s cozy atmosphere. The restaurant is also decorated with children’s art, which is for sale, and the staff was attentive and friendly. We will definitely be returning here! Visit Le Petite Oven at www.petit-oven.com.

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Theresa Gentile MS, RD, CDN is a dietitian at Maimonides Medical Center, adjunct faculty at CUNY Brooklyn College and counsels adults and children using sound science and holistic approaches to eating. Check out her website at www.theresagentilenutrition.com and like her on facebook www.facebook.com/TGNutrition.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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