On-line Guide: La Petite Maison
11 Rue Saint-Francois de Paule
When the president or a rock star comes to town, it’s usually in the paper the next day that they dined at La Petite Maison. When you see the restaurant from the outside, you’d be surprised – at first glance it looks like many of the other eateries along the posh part of the Old Town, just a little bigger than the norm. Then up close you notice the sculptured sweets at the entrance, the large terrace area is encased in burgundy curtains and there are plenty of chandeliers alongside flickering candlelight for a warm, relaxed ambience.
In days gone by, this was the large local grocery store and the concrete floor remains the same. Other simplicities amongst the grandeur are the simple paper menu and warm bread served in a brown paper bag.
As well as upmarket local dishes such as foie gras stuffed bresse chicken and bouillabaisse there’s the stuff you only get when you go super posh, like caviar and Aestivum truffles. As you’d expect, they have an amazing wine list, which might lose the restaurant the odd thousand euros if a waiter mistakenly opened the wrong bottle. (Please let that happen on my wine order!)
A word of warning: we often get reports of poor, snotty service. Reading between the lines, we think the restaurant doesn’t think it needs to cater to tourists or struggle to decipher badly spoken French, when it’s already got a queue outside of people waiting outside. They won’t tolerate complaints about time taken to deliver dishes to tables; they expect you to order, sip and settle in for the evening and it’s been known for food to take more than an hour to arrive. So, go for the food, be prepared to wait a while, and make sure you’re dining with people with whom you enjoy passing a long evening.