Petite Maison (Happy Birthday, Julia!)
7216 E Shoeman Ln
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
I haven't been blogging, but I have been eating. A lot. I've had some great meals and some not-so-great meals in the last year or so. I also had to write a book for my day job. I couldn’t make myself write about anything else, not even food. Sorry. The meal that brought me back--the Julia Child's 100th Birthday prix fixe at Petite Maison.
We came to Petite Maison for my birthday (and Julia’s). I didn't bring a camera, so no pics--sorry. It was my first trip to James Porter's “cozy” bistro. The tiny establishment—about 7 tables—is all warm wood paneling and a long tiled bar with a few glass chandeliers of the kind you might find in a country house (or your crazy Aunt Helen’s). Though we were there on a night that was too hot for outdoor seating, the garden patio also offers roughly as many tables as the dining room.
We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation (I would strongly recommend reservations—use Open Table) and were immediately seated at the only open table in the dining room. Our server greeted us and gave us some background on the menus, which are printed daily based on locally available ingredients. Each dish is prepared by the head chef.
Both the prix fixe and the a la carte menu offer traditional French fare. The Julia Child’s menu gave a choice of three courses for $35, a village wine pairing for $45, and a Sommelier’s wine selection for $65 with the option of a Foie Gras supplement for $14. The regular menu items range from $7-$18 for Hors D’Oeuvres, $26-$32 for entrees, and $6-$17 for desserts. The wine list, while not extensive, is impressive, and like the menu, French dominated.
Though the Julia Child’s menu only lasted a week, a prix fixe option is offered fairly often—the upcoming 3rd Birthday Celebration menu looks great and a good bit more playful than our meal ($38 for 3 courses, $55 with wine pairing, $75 for the Sommelier’s pairing). There’s also an affordable Sunday Brunch option with three courses for $35 with champs.
We both started with the Coquilles Saint Jacques. The scallops were tender, the sauce rich, and the bread crumbs the perfect contrast to the texture of the scallops.
My partner ordered the sous vide duck served with roasted turnips, thinly sliced potatoes, and oyster mushrooms. He was blown away. The mushrooms were a rich, smokey, surprising addition.
I had the Sole Meuiere served with a roasted oyster, green beans, and browned butter. The fish was delicious—three little rolled medallions of tender buttery goodness. I also really enjoyed the wine pairing with my second course: Vidal-Fleury-Muscat de Beasumes-de-Venise. It was bright and crisp with lots of green apple, a great foil to the richness of the browned butter. Overall I wish we had taken the server’s advice and upped to the Sommelier’s selection, but the village pairings were nice.
Desert was a trio of Nutella Crème Brulee, Crepe Suzette, and a soufflé. The Crème Brulee was by far the most playful part of the meal—kind of like a brownie with a caramelized crunchy top. My husband declared it his least favorite part of the meal. I have to admit I can’t keep Nutella in the house—I’d walk around eating it with a spoon—but I really liked it. The soufflé and the grand marnier sauce on the crepe were pretty amazing too.
The service was very nearly as good as the food. I felt like our server let us sit a bit too long with the menu (especially given cocktails weren’t offered), but he was happy to explain the menu (in a way that was helpful and not at all patronizing). He may have been a bit too insistent about the Foie Gras (I know it’s French but not everyone is okay with it) which turned me off to his recommendation of the Sommelier’s selection (which I really should have gone for). Still, from our conversation after the meal, the server made it clear that all the front of the house staff has a long relationship with and are truly dedicated to Porter.
We’ve been eating a lot of really inventive, playful, intellectual food lately. Sometimes it feels like if you don’t “get it” the actual flavor of the food might not be all that. It was a real pleasure to eat technique driven food that was executed perfectly and comletely delectable. Julia would be proud.