Posted on | August 31, 2010 | by Jason Casséus | 2 Comments
The family (well 4 out of 6 of us) got together last night for dinner at a Belgian restaurant that we pass frequently. Petite Abeille (401 East 20th Street) is a pretty bustling restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating right on the corner of 1st Avenue. It being Belgian, we were immediately thinking Moules Frite, but the bigger attraction was that Monday nights is half off all beers. With this in mind, my Dad & I planned on getting good & leathered on strong Belgian beers.
When we arrived, the dining area really wasn’t that busy, but the bar was doing brisk business. We were seated & that’s where the trouble started. The place is insanely dark, normally I don’t have any trouble reading menus etc, but this was pushing it. My Dad had forgotten his glasses, so he was like a mole squinting at the menu. Needless to say, it took us quite a long time to order. Secondly, the AC was on the fritz, turning the restaurant into a gigantic hotbox. It put a bit of a damper on the experience.
With the 2 minor hiccups explained, let me get onto the amazing meal we had. The beer menu is gigantic & features loads of beers that I’ve never heard of. Playing it safe, I got the Duvel (they were out of Duvel Green) & my Mom got the Delirium Tremens, both excellent beers. As you can imagine, Petite Abeille features plenty of traditional Belgian dishes, but there were also plenty of other options which were slightly ‘Belgianized’. My Mom got the Mussels Marinieres ($19) which was a humongous pot containg 2lbs of PEI mussels & fries. She seemed to really enjoy them & was unable to finish the lot. I tried some of the fries & they were really damn good.
My sister got the Grilled Skirt Steak with Ratatouille sauce ($19), it was topped with greens & came with fries. As a family, were really picky about how our meat is cooked. She ordered it rare & it was cooked perfectly. I’m more of a medium rare kinda guy, so I didn’t try it. By the look of her plate, I think she was happy with the steak.
My Dad got the Stoemp Saucisse ($16) which was 3 Myers of Keswick Cumberland sausages with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions & apples with a sauce. I tried the sausages & they really took me back to my years growing up in England. The dish was fantastic, I particularly liked the apple. As a complete side note, Myers of Keswick has a store here in Manhattan (634 Hudson Street between Horatio and Jane St.), if you like English fare check them out.
I ordered the Dorade ($24) which was the simplest dish (imho). A grilled, deboned Dorade (a Mediterranean Sea Bream) on top of a fennel salad & citrus sauce. As this was my dish, I’m going to go in-depth. First of all, it was f*cking amazing! I’ve had plenty of grilled fish in my time, but this was perfect. It was deboned, but obviously there were still a few in there along the spine (otherwise the whole thing would have fallen apart), which posed no problem. I give them major brownie points for leaving the head on! The meat was very moist & flaky. The real star of the dish was the skin which was charred & crispy. The crunch added a really great texture to the dish. I think the anise flavor of the fennel was a perfect match for the dish. It’s a LOT of food, so everyone got a taste & I was nearly able to finish the beast.
2 rounds of drinks in & stuffed to the gills, we decided to call it a night. So, ok, there were a few small problems (light, AC), but the food & our waiter, Paul, more than made up for it. I’m not sure if it was because we were near the service area or that Paul is a rockstar, but his service took a good meal & made it great. We really enjoyed ourselves & our bill was less than all of us expected. I actually did a double-take as I thought there was a mistake. The entire dinner was $115 without tip. Bargain! I think some of the beers are a little on the expensive side, ($11 Duvel), so the half off Monday thingy helped. In summation; GO TO PETITE ABEILLE!
Further Coverage here.