Monday, January 31, 2011

La Petite Auberge

As I contemplated where to go for dinner this past weekend, my phone rang. It was an old friend asking if I'd like to have dinner with her family and some other friends at La Petite that evening in honor of her birthday. I, of course, said yes. So, I'm already changing things up on you. It wasn't a 'Party of One'... it was a 'Party of Four'... but then it just turned into a party. I love my life... but I digress.

I arrived at La Petite Auberge (311 William Street, Fredericksburg, VA) around 6pm, a little early for our 6:30 reservations, so I walked into the bar and ordered a glass of Chilean cabernet. (Forgive me, I never saw the bottle) As I stood sipping and waiting for my friends, I recognized one of my bar customers as she walked in. We chatted, her boyfriend came in and suggested I sit with them and wait at their table. They ordered a bottle of Naked Mountain (the cork says "Drink Naked". Love it.) and an order of calimari. La Petite serves their calimari with an aioli sauce opposed to marinara, giving it a little different flavor. It was very good, crisp and fresh, not frozen and clearly battered there in the restaurant. And, they served the rings only, no tarantula-looking tentacle pieces (major bonus points there for LPA!!).

My dinner friends arrived and I thanked my Naked Mountain friends for the conversation and hospitality and walked into the bar area to meet the others. We sat and talked while we looked at the menus. I chose an apple and avocado vinaigrette for an appetizer, and rockfish with lump crab meat for dinner. The others at the table ordered steak, caesar salad, steamed clams and mussels and crab stuffed flounder. The restaurant was very full, so our appetizers took a while, but were well worth the wait. The avocado was perfectly ripe and neatly sliced on the left side of the plate. The apples were sliced and on the right, and the two fruits were separated by two slices of tomato. A creamy vinaigrette was served in a ramekin. The presentation was beautiful, the dressing was amazing, and I've been craving another plate since that night. More cabernet arrived, more conversation, and dinner was served. It was again beautifully presented, and the portions were generous. I would guestimate an 8-10oz piece of Rock, which was topped with deliciously sweet lump crab meat. The sides were scalloped potatoes and steamed carrots. I don't even want to talk about how many Weight Watcher's Points the bearnaise-esque sauce likely had in it, but I'll get over it. The rockfish was perfectly cooked, excellent and although I hate to admit it, I cleaned just about everything off of that plate. I considered taking the last roll and sopping up the remaining sauce, but I decided to pretend I had manners and let it go.

Our server came to ask about dessert, which I declined. There were fresh strawberries with Chantilly, Chocolate Gateau and Creme Brulee, among other things. Most days, I would sell a kidney for good creme brulee... but I passed it up. (If she'd have suggested more avocado and apple, I'd have probably jumped on it like a fat kid on a cupcake.) We paid our tabs and my dinner friends left, so I re-joined my Naked Mountain friends at the bar for a little more wine.

and that's when the party began...

Anyway, total time spent at La Petite was around four hours. Dinner took a long time. It would have been completely bearable had one of my table mates not been a semi-impatient six year old. My bill was just over $44.00 (for the avocado and apple, the rockfish and two glasses of wine) plus a $10 tip. The server was friendly and efficient, but the kitchen seemed a little slow. The restaurant was very busy and our server had tables in two different areas of the building, but I was extremely happy with the overall experience. Would I go back? In a heartbeat. Should you go? Definitely. But don't be in a rush. Enjoy. Relax. Pace yourself. Save room for dessert and tell me all about it. Stay away from the creme brulee though. That's all mine. :)

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