‘Petite 4’ Stands Tall On Boise’s Elite Restaurant Short List

When I found out that Bleubird was closing I could barely leave my house. The sudden evaporation of the city’s finest sandwich shop felt like a nightmare. Bleubird’s brilliant sandwiches, inventive side salads and herbaceous fruit sodas were so beloved that a line often curled out the door and down the block on Friday afternoons.

At the nadir of my emotional crisis, I was saved by astounding, thrilling news. Sarah and David Kelly, the power couple behind Bleubird’s massive success, were opening a new restaurant on Boise’s bench. Cleverly dubbed ‘Petite 4’ (a nod to its diminutive size and location at 4 N Latah St.), the Kelly’s new venture would serve French food in an ‘upscale casual’ environment. I made reservations as soon as possible.

My girlfriend and I visited Petite 4 on a Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. Reservations are mandatory unless you plan on fighting for space at the bar. Petite 4 has inherited much of its stylistic vision from Bleubird, but the execution is closer to impeccable. A striking kitchen forms the heart of the restaurant, and every member of the staff looks dapper in a pinstriped apron.

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Dave Kelly’s sodas border on artwork. His newest creation combines turmeric, ginger, mint, and apple cider vinegar to produce something with the crisp bite of ginger ale and the earthy, acidic tones of Kombucha. It’s called ‘The Cure’ and you must order it.

My girlfriend, blessed to be born in 1997, turned to the wine list. I, a cursed child of 1998, examined the sodas. We asked the waitress for guidance, and she said that most people order one starter, one vegetable, and two entrees. Expecting small, fine dining sized portions, I ordered those four dishes and a cheese plate. Little did I know, the entrees here are roughly the size of a family sedan. When you consider the vastness of some of these meals, the prices are closer to a brewery than a steakhouse.

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The menu is laid out simply. On the front: soup, salad and sandwiches, starches, vegetables, meat, seafood. On the back: cheese and charcuterie. On a separate card: today’s specials, including oysters and dessert.

If I had it to do over, I would order one starter, two vegetables, and split an entrée. That way, I would have had room for dessert.

Here is what we ate:

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We began our meal with the Baked Camembert. It was astounding, but that is almost always the case with hot French cheese. The fruit compote served alongside it was enjoyable, but a more acidic fruit counterpart might have better exposed the fatty complexities of the cheese.
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The black beluga lentils, our lone vegetable dish, were the highlight of the meal. The lentils were tossed into thinly shaved cabbage, kale and crispy onions. The seasoning alone was a masterclass in maximizing flavor without over-salting. The saffron aioli swirled around the bottom of the bowl lifted the flavors from “dang, that’s tasty” to “somebody hold me”. 
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The French onion soup was crowded with golden tendrils of onion and so gloriously rich I considered asking for a smoothie straw. The first few bites of melted cheese were magic, but the quantity of cheese began to feel a bit overwhelming as I worked deeper into the bowl.
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Four varieties of the Croque Monsieur are offered. We ordered the vegetarian option (you know, to be healthy) which eschews ham for mushrooms. The bread and sauce were excellent, but the thickness of the brie in the middle felt slightly ridiculous.
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Le Royale with Raclette. (Yes that’s a Royale with Cheese for you excitable movie nerds out there.) This burger is to other burgers what War and Peace is to other books. It is an epic slab of Double R ranch beef covered in melted cheese and slathered in an intense mushroom bordelaise.

Sarah and David Kelly are immensely talented restaurateurs. We are lucky that they choose to live and work in Boise. I understand why they decided to close Bleubird and open Petite 4. Bleubird was massively popular because it was the best possible version of a sandwich shop, but the type of food and the hours of operation created inherent limitations.

Petite 4 will not suffer from those limitations. It can grow and change endlessly in service of Sarah Kelly’s one of a kind culinary vision. It can bask in the inimitable classy-yet-casual atmosphere that Dave Kelly seems to conjure by simply existing; his energy, charm, and ability to remember names make you want to visit again and again.

I still miss Bleubird. I could visit Bleubird every weekday. I’ll visit Petite 4 once a month at most. My access to great food has been reduced. Some of the greatest sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, like the almost supernatural turkey ruben, are lost to history.

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Tess is excited to take home 4-6 pounds of French food.

The food at Petite 4 is aggressively rich, and I wonder if the burger and the Croque Monsieur could be negotiated with a little more finesse. The burger relies heavily on fat and salt in its appeal to the taste buds. The brie in the middle of the Monsieur might be reduced to the benefit of more subtle flavors.

These are the premature accusations of a man who hasn’t fully sampled the menu. Bleubird sandwiches were often similarly overzealous with good results. But I’ve always felt that Kelly’s work is at its best when she leans toward her vegetarian inclinations. Bleubird veggie sandwiches forced me to reimagine what vegetables are capable of; Petite 4’s lentils are divine. I look forward to delving into the vegetables and seafood when I return.

Please visit Petite 4. Sit down and let Dave Kelly pour you a drink. Let Sarah Kelly cook you French food. You will witness the flourishing of a singular culinary vision, you will feel comfortable, and you will be reminded why more and more people want to live here, with us, in Boise, Idaho.

Photo credit: Tess Goodwin

4 thoughts on “‘Petite 4’ Stands Tall On Boise’s Elite Restaurant Short List

  1. Vicky

    I can’t wait to try it (along with Buffalo Wild Wings) after your review. You’ve made me want to explore our Boise culinary options.
    Thanks for the great blog!

    Like

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