The newest Richard DeShantz spot and the first to be located outside of downtown's Cultural District, Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville is perhaps our favorite DeShantz endeavor yet.
The attention to detail in everything from decor to service to the food really creates a lovely and complete dining experience focused on a French theme.
France Comes to Pittsburgh at Poulet Bleu
As soon as we stepped in the door, the blue and white tiles, floral wallpaper, and the beautiful open kitchen made us feel like we had been transported directly to France. The atmosphere instantly put smiles on our faces, and that happiness continued throughout the meal.
As with other DeShantz restaurants, Poulet Bleu has an intensely focused and well-thought-out drink menu including French-inspired classic cocktails, an absinthe menu, and many French wines by the glass or bottle.
A lot of the cocktails feature gomme, which is basically a simple syrup made with gum arabic. As our server explained, this gives a thicker yet silky texture to the drinks and enables them to use less sugar in the drink.
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Our Sidecar cocktail had citrus notes from lemon balanced with cognac and gomme syrup, and a raw sugar rimmed glass. The Ti' Punch was refreshing and perhaps our favorite drink of the evening, made from rhum agricole, a house made lime cordial, and cane sugar. The grassiness of the rhum really shone through and accentuated the bright lime flavors perfectly.
The third cocktail we tried was the De La Louisiane, a New Orleans based drink with rye whiskey, Benedictine, bitters, and absinthe. The presentation of this one was absolutely adorable- the drink came with an extra little sidecar of the cocktail, chilled on ice, to replenish the smaller glass.
Selecting from the Menu is Tough
The food menu is split up into small plates, salads, sides, larger plates, and a steak and frites menu.
There were quite a few intriguing small plates and we had a really hard time deciding between things like the French onion soup, lobster spaghetti, and foie gras, but ultimately we ordered the chicken liver.
Grilled bread slices were topped with a mix of chicken liver, apple, cilantro, green onion, and sesame. The apple gave a sweetness to the otherwise savory, mineral, and earthy notes. A little frisee salad on top was simultaneously sweet, bitter, and crunchy.
As the steak and frites menu is highlighted in the middle of the page, our eyes were naturally drawn to it and we couldn't resist. We ordered the chef's special, a wagyu steak, cooked medium rare.
To accompany the steaks there are four house made sauces to choose from including a Bordelaise, Bearnaise, cognac pepper, and a house creamy mustard sauce. We chose the cognac pepper which had a delicious spicy kick to round out its decadent creaminess. The steak was cooked just as we ordered it and the combination of tender meat plus the sauce was heavenly.
We also tried the Parisienne gnocchi, which was an absolute revelation.
The gnocchi themselves were some of the most melt in your mouth, creamy, buttery, yet pillowy light gnocchi that I've ever had. They had a beautiful brown color from being pan fried, lending a delicate crispness to the outside.
I could just eat these alone by the pound, but there was even more to the dish: a brown butter sauce, tomato confit, mushroom ragout, gruyere, and pearl onions. The result was a rich, creamy sauce studded with sweet tomatoes and onions and earthy mushrooms, adding even more textures to this luscious dish.
The side dishes are no joke, either – we tried the asparagus which was served with a gribiche sauce that was eggy, mustardy, and tangy in all the best ways. The asparagus was crisp and beautifully green against the yellow sauce.
When it Comes to Dessert, Order the Souffle
We would have loved to try a few more appetizers or sides, but we knew going in to the meal that we had to save room for the already famous chocolate souffle for two. Rising daintily above the rim of its ramekin, this picture perfect dish also happens to be delicious.
The souffle was light and spongy, making us feel less like monsters for consuming the whole thing. The accompaniments add to the experience – banana ice cream, a dark chocolate sauce, pineapple and cherry compotes, and a creme anglaise. We loved them all but spooning the ice cream onto a bite of warm souffle and watching it melt was particularly gratifying.
And if you want to go all in, try the dessert wine pairing, a Banyuls. This sweet red wine is a great foil to the chocolate souffle. The souffle's cherry compote also brought out some cherry notes in the wine, making this a delightful dessert drink we could have easily kept drinking more of.
We have to give credit to the service, too, especially since the restaurant had only been open a few days when we visited. The wait for our entrees was a bit long, but the staff did acknowledge and apologize for it.
Honestly, we were having so much fun enjoying the atmosphere and our drinks that we didn't even notice the wait that much. And every other aspect of the service was seamless and pleasant, from the way my tree nut allergy was handled, to the explanation of the cocktails and dishes, to the overall attention to detail.
Le Poulet Bleu brings beautiful food with classic and elegant flavors to a very French spot in Lawrenceville- we can't wait to return!
Poulet Bleu is located at 3519 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.