On the bustling Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope, the restaurant Piquant has quietly been serving up pan-Latin and Southwestern cuisine for a few years. Oddly enough, I went on a blind date there right when it opened, but that was another time and another chef. Now the lounge-like eatery welcomes Patrick Allouache to the kitchen. Haling from France, Allouache worked at the Paris brasserie Charlot Roi des Coquillages and helmed New York restaurants Brasserie Pigalle and the now-closed L’Orto, where he earned a Michelin star. With Piquant, the French chef is adding food from his homeland and mixing it with the Latin American flavors the Brooklyn joint has become known for. I contacted Allouache to find out what he has in store for Piquant, and how a French-Latin mash-up really works.
Why did you choose to take over as chef here?
I was looking for new challenge. I spent most of my career in upscale and traditional French restaurants in both Paris and New York, including Brasserie Pigalle, though I was also executive chef at L’Orto, a restaurant that combined fine French and Italian food. So running a restaurant that sought to unite Latin and French cuisines was too exciting of an opportunity to pass up.
What do you hope to bring to Piquant?
Creativity, fresh ingredients, and new energy. I want to embrace a new style of fine dining that’s French meets pan-Latin, with Spanish influences, too.
Do you think French and Latin American food go well together? Why or why not?
Of course, food has no borders.
How is the menu at Piquant going to change?
I want it to be more reflective of a fine dining experience, which I think the neighborhood will embrace. The food will be fresh, hearty without being heavy, and very unique.
Do you have a signature dish?
There are two that I’m especially proud of: the Foie Gras Quesadilla and the Chilean Sea Bass in a chorizo broth. I’m actually from the Southwest of France, which is the foie gras capital of the world, so I knew I wanted to use that ingredient. Since we’re doing Latin-inspired food, it was only natural to add foie gras to a quesadilla with huitlacoche and zucchini blossoms. I also took inspiration from the classic croque monsieur sandwich and added aged gruyere cheese to the quesadilla. As for the Chilean Sea Bass in a chorizo broth, that came about because I wanted to add spice to a fish dish. I then added huitlacoche, zucchini blossoms, and the black olive tapenade to tie all the flavors together.
What dish should I really get excited about? All of them! But aside from the aforementioned signature dishes, I’m also very excited about the Roasted Halibut with a langoustine “con carne” style. That dish was inspired by the chili con carne one my cooks made for family meal.