Le Pescadeux is a little slice of Quebec on one of the toniest tree-lined lanes in north SoHo.
Offering fresh, affordable inventive fish and seafood plates in an intimate room at 90 Thompson St. since 2009, the restaurant - whose purveyor hails from Montreal - was a delectable surprise Saturday night.
Our table shared several dishes, all of which were truly superb, from the nuanced flavors of the fish cuts to the well-seasoned Jack's Fries, which we correctly figured had to be great if their creator is willing to put his name on them.
One of the highlights of the menu is the option to order Duets, or two half-servings of seafood dishes, which allows diners to taste more than one of Head Chef Francisco Diaz's creations in an evening.
The best slice of fish the night we dined at Le Pescadeux was the grouper, a brilliant pearl-white cut of smooth, tender flavor, accented by a dab of cauliflower puree and a nugget of lightly-fried artichoke hat.
The thick-cut, braised octopus tentacles were also pleasantly well-cooked, slightly blackened with a smoky tinge and less tough than the eight-legged creature is commonly served. The skilled way the meat - which was accompanied by a nice watercress preparation and a saffron aioli - was grilled is likely a direct result of Diaz's previous training at top city restaurants such as One if by Land Two if by Sea, Club 21 and Sushi Samba.
The salmon was the least-impressive of the night's entrees, coming with a flavorless mustard crust, though if had not been tasted in the context of the other top-notch morsels, it may have ranked a rung or two higher. We did not have a chance to taste the red meat at Le Pescadeux, but a diner at an adjacent table enjoyed a brightly-rare New York strip that I watched him pull apart without the assistance of a knife.
The miniature brussels sprouts - which seem to continue to surge as top menu items citywide, along with cauliflower and the over-hyped zucchini flower - arrived at the table in a small skillet with caramelized bacon, rounding out a full meal of varied and nuanced tastes.
We left room for desserts, again being struck by the attention to detail, though they were a little too rich for our palates. Despite their density, the chocolate cheesecake had a nice, thick texture, while the caramelized bananas were less sweet than the bananas Foster my southern-raised companions were used to.
As we finished off our meal and our second bottle of the pleasantly-dry and well-priced Austrian Grooner 2010, made from gruner veltiner grapes from Donauland, Austria, we reflected on the experience and agreed that the meal had been well above the average, especially since we were able to get a reservation just three hours before sitting down to eat.
Le Pescadeux, an affordable Québecois gem on one of the quaintest streets in SoHo, is well worth seeking out for a date or group dining.
90 Thompson St.
Dinner Entrees: $24 to $32
LUNCH: Tuesday thru Friday 12:00pm to 3:00pm
DINNER: Tuesday thru Thursday 5:30pm to 11:30pm
Friday and Saturday 5:30pm to 12:30am
Sunday 5:30pm to 11:00pm
BRUNCH: Saturday and Sunday 11:00am to 4:00pm