I can't remember the reports about this place but everyone in my group was for going there, so we gave it a try. the hostess gave us an apologetic look and offered us a table in the garden as if it was going to be a disappointment...strange. You have to troop through the small kitchen to get to the garden and everyone is friendly there (used to it, I guess!). the garden is a deck with flowers, strung lights and two fig trees...simple, but very nice. there is even a little sitting area under a canopy where a couple of people can lounge and have a drink.
Our waiter was really great....what I think is the perfect mix of friendliness with professionalism, without a trace of obsequiesnous (sp?). We were tough on him but he stayed in good humor. One thing i really liked was that he told us the prices of the specials right after he described them, and that the prices weren't exorbitant like at most restaurants. Given the recent experience I had with bad service at Bistro St. Marks I was glad for good service.
The menu was very similar to the other places I have been too recently in Brooklyn, namely Banania and Bistro St. Marks; it was the same basic range of dishes, but with variation in the ingredients.
I have to say that I think Patois does these basics better. The four of us in the group had a wide variety of dishes to evaluate. We started with the smoked trout which was good, but not extraordinary. It was served with bacon which was too much smoked stuff in one dish. Their escargot was the classic dish with garlic and butter, very well pulled together, with a little ball of puff pastry on top which was light and buttery and delicious dipped in the sauce. The salad with goat cheese was good but nothing out of the ordinary.
Among us we had the lamb which was buttery soft and nicely rare, though lacking a little in salt. It was served on a pile of mashed potatoes which were seasoned with mustard, I believe. There was a monk fish in some kind of tomato sauce with pasta which was excellent; the fish was cooked perfectly such that the fish seemed to bite you back, not just collaps in mush. The salmon was served on green lentils; the flavor was excellent though pretty standard for salmon. One person got the curried pork which was, I think, a tenderloin with a cream curry sauce. The sauce was very subtle and went very nicely with the pork which was really tender, almost flaky.
We got an inexpensive pinot grigio (La Scala 2000) which was quite good for being the least expensive onthe list. The creme brulee was excellent with a very subtle hint of lemon zest, the vanilla ice cream was fabulous (real vanilla is always so nice, it's hard to go wrong), there was also a lemon tart with a crumb crust that was excellent and a berry clafouti with passion fruit sauce which overall was a bit too tart for my taste.
I think that the excellent service pulled all the elements of our meal together, making the meal greater than the sum of its parts. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to others and would love to hear what others thought of it.