First Taste: What to Expect at Petit & Keet

If restaurants were movies, then Petit & Keet would be the equivalent of this year’s summer blockbuster. In a year filled with quiet openings, small expansions, and first time owners, Petit & Keet brings a large renovation to a long standing restaurant space at 1620 Market Street as well as some very experienced and well known Little Rock restaurant personalities.

The original plans for the former 1620 Savoy spot included a modest interior refresh. Those plans quickly grew to a complete remodel both inside and out. Gone are the early 90’s styling, in is a much more modern feel. If you visited the location previously, the main dining room will feel somewhat familiar. The main structure and layout remains the same, along with the majority of the dining room bar styling. The overall finishes and table layout for the center portion of the room are completely new, as are the seating. It matches the black and red styling on the exterior of the building and brings an overall modern appearance.

The other portion of the restaurant, however, is completely overhauled. It is now the main bar space for Petit & Keet and features a large bar that extends most of the length of the room, along with another bar seating area that runs parallel to the bar. The patio seating area has been updated, and a new private dining room is formed out of the rest of the space. While the styling is mostly the same in each, the bar carries a very comfortable and casual feel, a place we could see ourselves sipping afterwork cocktails. The restaurant portion, again with similar styling, comes across as a bit more upscale and will be a great date or business dinner spot.

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What has not been talked about in great detail is the overall menu direction for the space. Originally we were told they were considering separate menus for the bar and the main restaurant, thankfully these have combined into one menu that you can order at each spot. The menu is a good mix of southern classics like shrimp and grits and hoecakes, along with steaks, salmon, and pasta that bring some classic upscale dining options.

To add a bit more diversity, especially for the bar side crowd, they have a solid mix of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and even a traditional New England lobster roll.

In our menu preview we were able to check out the Barbecued Shrimp and Grits, Rice Hoecakes with corn succotash, PK Wedge Salad, and the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich for our team’s entrees. All the items were strong dishes, and feel like very well refined recipes. Owner Louis Petit had a strong influence on the overall menu along with executive chef Mateo Vannucci.

On the sweet side we were able to try a couple of the planned desserts in a poached strawberry cheesecake and a chocolate fudge spoon cake that either should be a good way to end a meal. All of the food items can be paired expertly with a strong wine list, including one of my favorites in the Blackbird red blend, thanks to talented wine staff like Susie Long.

In fact the staff selection overall is very strong. We saw several restaurant industry favorites who have made the transition over to Petit and Keet, the Keet family has put together a very strong opening team for the restaurant and the bar side, something that should be reflected in the service quality once it is open. We even found some of the best from the previous 1620 Savoy staff that made the transition with the building.

Overall Petit & Keet should settle in nicely to the Little Rock landscape. The team is well rounded, full of Little Rock food industry veterans and rising stars. The menu is diverse and well executed, it has a little something for everything. Mostly I like the feel of the two spaces. They are very unified in styling and apperance, but will appeal to completely different crowds. One you feel perfectly fine having a casual drink with some friends, the other can be a nice date spot. The pricing is not finalized yet, but if our ticket for our team of 4 writers was any indication, the price is going to be surprisingly reasonable for the quality and atmosphere.

Petit & Keet is expecting to open their doors next Thursday, May 18th. The hours are Dining: Monday-Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 5pm-11pm. Bar side:Monday-Thursday 4pm- 11pm,  4pm -12am on Friday & Saturday.

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First Taste: What to Expect at Petit & Keet