Amongst the neck-breaking skyscrapers is this little jewel, La Petite Mason, which commands excellence and weaves its delicacies into patrons’ conversations. This experience was impending.
We had strolled through the warm Brickell evening the night before to ensure we knew where to find it. Led by the compass of a phone, we hit the pavement, maneuvering joggers, dog-walkers and people dressed elegantly on a Monday as if Friday were already here. With one eye on the map, we secured our reservations, picking out a time like a scarce dress on a sales rack. We skipped past streets that were suspiciously dim and strolled down another fringed with the swooping wig of foliage. A tree with black limbs was my favourite.
We called forth the menu into the air in front our faces and passed our moist tongues on the descriptions as they fell from our mouths. Salad of Lentils. Sweet Peppers in Olive Oil. Crispy Fried Baby Squid. The italic English. The bold French names. What is Gateau again? Cake. Predictions followed of the likely selections: the safe and familiar or the adventurous and new.
And then we came upon it, its outdoor gallery with tables and umbrellas and the transparent privacy. Despite the glass wall from which the interior glowed gold, we couldn’t see inside from the street. Bounding up the steps for a closer peep, we were greeted by a dark bar area near the entrance and pale wall of eye-catching framed art. It was decided. We will dine indoors. We headed home, thoughts and tongues marinating in anticipation.
When the day came, our muscle memories led us up the steps towards the entrance of La Petite Mason. And like clockwork, one of the hostesses pushed open the glass door and patiently waited as we strutted across the cool granite pathway and through the tables on the patio of the restaurant to her warm welcome. Inside, the bar stools were already half filled and shortly after our entrance, we were ushered to our seats, one of possibly six two-seater tables parked along the left wall, like dominoes scrub fresh of their dots, but adorned instead with a lit candle, a long bottle of olive oil, salt and pepper shakers, white, glass and silver utensils and two lush tomatoes and a fist-sized lemon.
Yes, that’s what I said, tomatoes and a lemon. At a glance, their perfection might have donned them the title of artificial, but clearly that is not the case with this restaurant. The interior is a place you would want to be a part of the décor. On plush seating, we stared equally at the deft and purposeful movements of the wait staff, the deep, see-through bowls and jars of fresh or preserved fruits and vegetables- the raucous purple of long eggplants, the small pores on a family of oranges, the unblemished flamboyant red of bell peppers- were a treat to the eyes as was the walled art.
Fresh baguettes exited the kitchen regularly and a generous waiter swooped near our table with a basket of thin multigrain and white slices. This was the beginning of choreography, cutting into the juicy red of a tomato, donning the white plate with the sensuous flow of rich olive oil and breaking the bread slices. Our main waiter had long given us our menus and a concise description of La Petite Maison’s concept, Southern French cuisine, and stepped away as we thumbed the words that our tongues had recited the night before.
This time the dishes appeared tart, crunchy, submissive, surprising.
Appetizer – Saumon Finement Tranche (salmon carpaccio with guacamole) & Calamars Frits (crispy fried baby squid)
It was my first time trying salmon carpaccio, thinly-sliced and I must say it may be an acquired taste. If you like citrus and creamy avocado, go for it, but I did prefer the just-right delicate crunch of the baby squid. Trust me, it was not oily or slimy. It was amazing, and quite obviously freshly-made.
Entrée – CANARD A L’ORANGE (1 PC) (slow cooked duck legs with orange glaze) & LPM SIGNATURE – COTELETTES D’AGNEAU (grilled lamb cutlets with smoked eggplant)
The tender duck leg had an empowering citrus flavor. The cutlets were tender and juicy right down to the center and, to my pleasant surprise, the eggplant had been transformed into a salty, complementary paste.
Dessert – SELECTION DE SORBETS (Coconut/Lime & Raspberry sorbet) & GATEAU AU FROMAGE FRAIS (cheesecake)
The sorbet had tiny shreds of coconut and lime melting into the raspberry sorbet. This cheese cake has me confused. Served with berries, it was super-light, had a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency and a mildly sweet flavour. It was nothing like a traditional yellow cheesecake. I dare say ten times better.
I would be remised if I failed to mention my unconventional drink, LPM’s Signature mocktail, LIMONADE NOIRE (black lemonade) infused rosemary, honey and activated charcoal. It was such a calming compliment to the delectable journey mentioned above.
So if you are ever in the Brickell neighbourhood or in Miami period, head over to La Petite Maison. Just being there feels celebratory.
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Welcome, I'm Rochelle, curator of saltfish & Lace, a St. Martin lifestyle blog.
I don't just eat anywhere on St. Martin or in the world, for that matter. Because I want MORE from my dining out experiences: the ambiance, presentation and service are crucial. At the end of it all, the food is number one. I want to be wowed. I'm sure you do too.