Foodie Spotlight: Petite Chou Bistro and Champagne Bar

Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America.  A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks.  This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.

Review by Dustin Heller

Bonjour, foodies!  Imagine strolling down a quaint street in Paris and stumbling upon a charming little French bistro for a romantic dinner.  Well, you don’t have to travel all the way to France for this experience because we have a charming French bistro of our own right in the heart of Broad Ripple.

Petite Chou Bistro and Champagne Bar is located at 823 Westfield Blvd. and is part of the Patachou family of restaurants founded by philanthropist Martha Hoover.  Hoover has been a driving force in the local farm-to-table movement for almost 30 years and a community leader in ensuring that food-insecure children in Indianapolis have healthy food to eat.  Seems like a cause we should all get behind!

Photo from @davepluimer

The restaurant is literally picturesque, starting with the delightful sidewalk patio that comes complete with fresh flowers and draping ivy.  The interior of the restaurant is cozy with a dimly lit dining area and an intimate bar tucked away in the back.  It’s a dining experience that truly feels like you’re being transported to a foreign country.  Make sure to hit up the outdoor patio before the weather turns; you can thank me later.

Photo from @davepluimer

When it comes to the food, Petite Chou is serving up some French classics such as crepes and steak frites in addition to some non-traditional items with a local flare.  They are still a farm-to-table restaurant–just with a French twist.  I hope I’m not underselling it, because the food is out of this world.  So much so, Travel + Leisure magazine named it one of the country’s best French restaurants in 2013 (very impressive)!  From the starters all the way down to the dessert, Petite Chou is a culinary experience that is not to be missed.  With that said, let me help you out on your journey by providing four items from the current menu that you “can’t miss.”

Côtelette De Porc: French for pork chop, but doesn’t Côtelette De Porc sounds so much more classy.  This is an exquisite thick-cut, bone-in pork chop with a sweet and smoky maple bacon glaze that is perfectly cooked.  The pork, both tender and juicy, is served with local mushrooms, summer squash and fingerling potatoes.  Even though Petite Chou is a chic restaurant, I don’t think anyone would fault you for picking up the bone to finish it off.  With a menu chock-full of delicious options, make sure you don’t look past this one.

Photo from @davepluimer

Warm Quinoa: A big misconception about quinoa is that it is a grain, when in fact, it is a seed that comes from the Chenopodium quinoa plant.  This warm quinoa dish is listed under the salad portion of the menu, but it could also double as a tasty side to any of the dinner entrees.  The quinoa is puffed (think popcorn without the oil) and combined with seasonal vegetables and served with a delightful roasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette.  Need another reason to order the quinoa (or three)?  It is naturally gluten-free, loaded with protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids.  You’d almost be doing your body a disservice by not ordering this dish.

Photo from @davepluimer

Oysters Rockefeller: For all of you reading this that say oysters are slimy and gross, don’t let your bias of raw oysters stop you from missing out on this showstopping starter.  First off, the oysters in this dish are baked in an oven and not raw (I know that’s important to a lot of you).  The oysters are served in the half-shell with traditional pernod cream and spinach, and topped with Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Pro tip: order two because they go fast!

Photo from @davepluimer

Risotto Saison: I jump at the chance to order risotto when I know it will be prepared properly.  Saison translates to season in English, so this is Petite Chou’s seasonal risotto dish that consists of the chef’s selection of local ingredients.  The current risotto saison contains pork, fennel and arugula. It has a rich, robust flavor that perfectly complements the creamy rice.   I feel like the awareness of risotto in U.S. has grown substantially because of the popular television show Hell’s Kitchen.  Overcooked or undercooked risotto has been the demise of many aspiring chefs in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen.  Let me just say, Chef Ramsay would be more than happy with the risotto coming out of the kitchen at Petite Chou.

Photo from @davepluimer

I guess the only thing left to say is bon appétit!