One of Miami’s most anticipated restaurants opened their doors towards the end of February 2017. La Petite Maison, an international French restaurant with locations in London, Dubai, Istanbul and Beirut, opened their first American outpost on the ground floor of a condominium at 1300 Brickell Bay Drive.
Restauranter Arun Waney known for his other restaurants Zuma, Coya and Dôa can now add La Petite Maison to his roster in Miami, together with Bob Ramchand and Raphael Duntoye, who is also executive chef.
This 4,600 square foot space is extremely impressive and attractive compared to the clubby casual look of its original London location. It has an elegant and light and airy feel to it. Seating 100 inside and an additional 78 outside. The interior featued pale mint green banquets, ivory leather chairs, high ceilings, white washed wooden floors, floor to ceiling shutters and an entire wall of small artworks. There are marble and copper accents and the bar area has glass bowls filled with colourful vegetables like they do in all their other restaurants. Another similar touch is the lemons and tomatoes on each table. They are not just there for decoration but are meant to be eaten. Each table also provides olive oil, salt, pepper and a sharp knife to assist in this.
The cuisine is French/Mediterranean, with an Italian influence. There are typical ingredients like tomatoes, artichokes, lemons, fish, chicken and beef. Olive oil is used in place of butter for most of the cooking. La Petite Maison combines seasonal ingredients and cooks everything to order. Nothing is reheated. The food is simple fare and the quality of the ingredients shine through. Rooted in old style Genovese cooking you will find things like Niçoise salad, Pissaldiere, warm prawns with olive oil, escargot, sea bream en papillote, roasted chicken, and rack of lamb.
The restaurant is already packing them in and it is difficult to get a table at a prime time. Does the restaurant live up to all the hype? Not by a long shot. Having dined at the London location I can make a comparison. The level of cooking or service does not measure up in Miami, well at least not yet.
We had to move tables 4 times before being given one not by the entrance, the kitchen, or a food station. We were told we couldn’t dine at 7 or 7:30, but only at 6:30, even though there were still quite a few empty tables during those hours. We were also told we must vacate in 2 hours. That is not normally a problem for me, it depends on the kitchen and wait staff. However, the hostess was indeed hovering at our table when the clock struck 8:30. I felt like Cinderella having to high-tail it out of there.
Our waiter Andre was over enthusiastic and controlling to the point of annoying. Every dish I ordered, he didn’t accept but suggested something he felt would be better. He also talked down to us like we didn’t understand items on the menu. If I have a question, let me do the asking, don’t assume all your customers are dolts. When ordering a cocktail, he insisted I try the house cocktail, even after I told him I am not a fan of tomato juice. I guess I have a new pet peeve … don’t make suggestions unless I ask for them. When I ordered dessert, instead of writing down my order, he said, “but I really think you should try the French toast.” If I wanted the French toast I would have ordered the French toast!!!
The food was good to mediocre. The prices are high to extremely high. The menu seems almost identical to the one in London. The French bread is lovely, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The carpaccio of scallops was delicate and nicely dressed except for the abundance of too much salt. My husband wanted the crab and lobster salad but our waiter convinced him otherwise to try the burrata and cherry tomatoes. The inside of the burrata was rich and creamy but the skin was thick and rubbery. We tried the Poulet “La Petite Maison”, which must be ordered in advance when making your reservation. At $140 for two, I expect perfection. We were told they buy the best heritage green circle chickens. I found the bird to be overcooked and over-salted. The accompanying foie gras was delicious. The grilled veal chop is big and juicy and done in a honey and yogurt sauce that I enjoyed. Even though the main courses are in the $45-$100 range, you still have to order side dishes as they all come unadorned. I recall the fries being amazing in London, here they were just okay.
Our apple tart with vanilla ice cream was not memorable. The restaurant made us vacate our seats to the bar. For our trouble, they sent over the aforementioned French toast. It was nice, with a creme brûlée topping. I would forgo the spice ice cream however, as I am not a fan.
The wine list was quite impressive. We ordered by the glass and I found their pours to be on the stingy side. The cocktails were nice. I enjoyed their special version of a gin and tonic done with premium Tanqueray, cucumber and grapefruit slice.
Nevertheless, there’s a buzz to the spot. The place exudes luxury, charm and style. They’ve really gone to great lengths in terms of hospitality, bringing in staff from the Dubai and London locations to assist the opening. Compared to the hostesses at Zuma, the front of the house is welcoming here. If they can just refine the food, the discriminating clientele will return in droves.