Best French Bistro - 2010
Neal Cooper doesn't look, act, or speak like a Frenchman. Fair enough: He isn't French. His prior restaurant, Il Migliatore, and his eponymous eatery from 1993 were both excellent; neither, however, was French. Mr. Cooper did dabble in Escoffier and the French classics at the Culinary Institute of America, but more important, he knows how to operate a restaurant that regardless of ethnicity, delivers what people want: Delicious food and wine at a good value served efficiently in a pleasing environment. At Petit Rouge, this translates into a charmingly rustic 24-seat bistro and petite eight-seat patio; into some 70 wines starting at $28 a bottle and by-the-glass choices from $8 to $14; into crunchy baguettes, textbook French onion soup, salmon tartare, ris de veau in lemon-caper sauce, rashers of calf's liver with bronzed onions on top, truite grenobloise, and frisée salad with lardons of bacon and an impeccably poached egg. Entrées run $20 to $24, making the homemade tarte tatin or impossibly smooth pot de crème that much harder to resist. Chef Cooper may not be fluent in French, but Petit Rouge speaks the language like no other place in town.