Petits Plats: Fine French without the Frills

Someone once told me Woodley Park feels a little bit like it has been frozen in time. With its odd collection of restaurants, mixing the likes of Nando’s and Dunkin Donuts (no hate here, I’m a Boston girl) with unique establishments like Petits Plats, and Open City – I can’t say I totally disagree. However, Petits Plats feels a bit nostalgic, like it is stuck in time in the right way. The charming, cozy row home features a quaint brick patio, an indoor fire place and a homely foyer. The warm, tasteful décor matches the elegance of the restaurant’s dishes. I went for a girls’ night and we opted for a three course meal off the simple dinner menu.

Onion Soup

Photo by Greer Hunter
Onion Soup

Petits Plats gets authenticity points for its menu; the tasty appetizer was simply called Onion Soup. The “French” is implied, of course. And it doubles its authenticity points for its perfection of the traditional French recipe. I’m always a little nervous to order (French) onion soup. Will I choke on a wad of cheese? Will it be so salty I’ll die of dehydration? Will I scorch my tongue and then not enjoy the rest of my meal? It can be a stressful thing to order. If you’re like me and you too have these concerns, Petits Plats Onion Soup is the one for you.

Sautéed Calamari 

Photo by Greer Hunter
Sautéed calamari with garlic, pine nuts, tomato and basil & La Source, Pays, D’oc, Chardonnay

I was eager when the waiter brought out this mini, yet deep sauce pan of sautéed squid. This appetizer was full of flavor and offered a pleasant variety of textures between the squid, sautéed tomato and subtle crunch from the pine nuts. We shared it between three and were very pleased with the portion.

Petits Plats Special: Mahi Mahi

Photo by Greer Hunter
Petits Plas Special: Mahi Mahi with a side of Succotash

It’s always good when mother is happy. She ordered the Mahi Mahi special. It was delicate and easy to cut with a fork and it held the sauce evenly with every bite. Typically, mom would’ve gone for fries over veggies, but there were no leftovers on her plate. She said the succotash was perfectly salted and tender. Petits Plas gets Mom Approved for the Mahi Mahi.

Steamed Mussels & French Fries

Steamed Mussels & French Fries, Sancerre Reserve Durand Sauvignon Blanc

What’s not to love? Seafood, fries and chilled white wine – it’s a taste of summer. As my roommate put it, mussels require just the right amount of work. Maybe that’s how they got their name. Petits Plats was no exception to her rule; easy out of the shell and seasoned well, she was very pleased. The crispy french fries rounded out the chewy meal and added some substance to the light seafood dish. The mussels went well with the Sauvignon Blanc – and as a side to my and my mom’s orders as well. We all enjoyed them and would like to advocate for the dish to be offered as an appetizer as well.

Petits Plats Special: Roasted Lamb Chops

Special: Roasted Lamb Chops with Potato Gratin and Vegetables

Yes! A thousand times yes to this lovely plate of happiness. I was so thrilled when I learned the special roasted lamb chops were not going to be seasoned in rosemary. Rosemary is fine but it does not need to be on every lamb chop ever. I’m so glad the people at Petits Plats agree. The meat was tender and cooked to a nice medium rare. I appreciated the controlled portion of the indulgent potato gratin – it was so satisfying I could have it for dinner on its own. The steamed vegetables were done perfectly and lightly salted, balancing out the savory taste between the meat and the potatoes. A bit sad this was on the specials menu, because I definitely think it could be a contender for a most popular dish on the standing menu. Food for thought, @ Petits Plats?

Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée


Petits Plats knows this is a dessert for sharing. The dish was just big enough to be too big for one person. The ultra thin crisp layer on top offered a nice crunch within the smooth vanilla bean custard. Simply done, simply satisfying.

The next time you head to Woodley Park or the zoo and are fearful you’ll starve because the area isn’t known for its dining scene, worry not. Petits Plas also offers lunch and brunch. The restaurant fills up fast because of very limited seating; make your reservations here.

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