When I first spied the rating for P’tite Ardoise Bistro, I actually did a double take. Positive reviews? Votes in the ninety percents? Hundreds of people voting? It had to be a mistake. Right? Wrong.
On the edge of Northbridge, opposite the Brisbane Hotel, is this quaint little eatery that seems like an actual slice of France has been transported over to Perth. The venue is small; the chatter loud. Tables are scattered about in a haphazard manner that leaves patrons back’s touching and elbows close to bumping. But it all seems to add to the atmosphere. It leaves this place feeling exciting, intimate despite constant close proximity to others, and saliva inducing from the wondrous food on offer.
The staff here are all actually French – accents adorable and incredibly sexy. The food, just as authentic.
It’s a Thursday night and 8.30pm when we arrive for our booking but the place is packed. Every table is full except ours and we soon change that status as we slide into our cushioned seats and eye other people’s food like the creeps we are. I can already say at this point I’m glad Jeremy chose this place to come to. The smells are to die for.
Our waitress starts us off with tall glasses of water as she presents our menus. At P’tite Ardoise Bistro there are two menus in use each night. One is the ‘menu du jour’ which is the menu of the day and full of rotating dishes that are based on seasonality and availability. The other is the ‘les classiques’ – a menu of classic French staples to pique your appetite. There is something here for everyone.
There are some amazing looking food items on the menu, with the snapper catching my eye in particular as it is delivered to a nearby diner’s table.
I’m quick to choose my entree; spying the ‘Escargot a Ma Facon’ ($19) which translates to snails my way. My main offers a little bit more of a need for deliberation, but eventually I select the ‘Tournedos Rossini’ ($44). Both my entree and main are from the classic menu.
Jeremy on the other hand is taken by the selection on the daily menu. For entree he chooses the ‘Terrine du Chef’ ($20) and for main the pan seared snapper ($39).
Once are orders are placed and our waters kept topped up, we are offered complimentary bread to start our evening off. Baked in house, they have a french baguette or an olive loaf to choose from. Both are phenomenal we discover – and something they continue to offer to diners throughout the night to accompany the savoury courses.
I can’t even keep track of how much bread I actually consumed – and I usually shy away from this dangerous carbohydrate (dangerously addictive!). It’s warm from the oven, soft and not overly doughy. And it works so well with the accompanying virgin olive oil, soft creamy butter or the olive tapenade on hand. I could have spent my entire night making my way through that endless supply of bread and been a happy camper!
But soon enough our entrees arrive and with them comes the most intense, addictive aroma imaginable. It’s my snails and I’m pleasantly surprised. Here I had been expecting a dish of garlic butter or something equally predictive for these little guys. But no, instead I had three little bowls before me, each with a buttery round of toast floating on top – encasing whatever glory lay beneath.
I start from left to right. The first opens up to reveal three snails (removed from the shell) sitting in a luxuriously thick tomato sauce that is infused with herbs and amazing flavours. It has the smallest drop of cream blended into the mixture. The second is a combination of both tomato and cream in the sauce which is only a slight change, but a completely new flavour profile all together. The third is definitely my favourite – a continuance of the others but with a much creamier sauce and an extra snail to enjoy. Delicious! It’s rich, hearty and comforting. And the toasted bread rounds on top soak up the sauce and allow you to indulge just that tiny bit longer.
Jeremy’s terrine du chef comes out on a dazzling white plate. It’s a veal terrine that is accompanied by apple and apricot on the inside. The flavour is clean; the texture substantial but the ingredients are well blended and all compliment each other. On side are some pickles and strawberry jelly with micro herbs.
With more bread to enjoy, our mains come out steaming hot and looking utterly incredible. Jeremy has gone for the pan seared north west snapper we saw earlier, which has a potato croquette on side and sits in a clam and lobster bisque.
The snapper’s skin is crispy and has a satisfying crunch with each bite. The flesh of the fish flakes away with a prod of the fork; and the taste is heaven. The bisque tastes just like the sea itself. It’s sophisticated, full of flare and seems somehow just so French I have to double take to believe I’m tasting something like this in Perth.
My main dish is the tournedos rossini, which is a WA beef medallion that sits atop mashed potato and red wine jus, and has mushroom duxelle and foie gras piled high above. I eat my steak rare, and the moment I cut into it I can see that they’ve cooked it to order. The steak is tender; my knife cutting through the meat like its butter.
The potato is starchy but in the best way possible. It’s creamy and stretchy and probably the best mash I’ve ever had. Very yummy stuff! The mushroom duxelle is salty and lightly cooked; the foie gras melting richly into the dish. It’s incredibly delicious but I can feel my stomach protesting a bit from the decadence of this dinner. Not that I’m listening to it though!
Staying on theme with the bread, the staff bring out a bowl of complimentary steamed vegetables that have flecks of mint on top. Brocolli, carrot, asparagus and zucchini. It’s a really nice touch and they taste great. It’s an unexpected delight and I am quick to devour the brocolli. It’s cooked to perfection – slightly bitey still but relatively soft.
My dessert comes from the daily menu and it’s one that I knew I’d have the moment a waiter walked past my table to another customer. It’s the ‘Strawberry and Lemon Vacherin’ ($14).
The plate has a blackboard like appearance; my dessert piled high with a smear of strawberry sauce and powdered sugar underneath. It’s a meringue with lemon and blood orange curd on top. A ring of strawberries sit on top, encasing a smooth and silkily refreshing sorbet scoop. It’s finished off with a nice pull of persian fairy floss.
This dish has everything you could ask for. The meringue is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The sorbet is sour. It’s acidic but somehow sweet at the same time and coats my mouth tantalisingly. The strawberries are fresh, the sorbet a great palate cleanser. I have to say, this is definitely up there with the all time best desserts I’ve had.
Jeremy has gone for the creme brulee ($14) for his dessert from the classic menu. It arrives and is full of utter flair. A bowl of liquid gold it arrives with a small serving of strawberry syrup on hand and shortbread biscuit in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.
The creme brulee gives off a satisfying crack as Jeremy’s spoon breaks through the surface – the custard underneath wobbling slightly and glistening in the light with it’s tiny speckles of vanilla bean. It’s pronounced the best brulee he’s ever had and I have to admit I agree. It’s exactly what you would want when even thinking of creme brulee.
Our night at P’tite Ardoise Bistro was one that I could only describe as perfect. The food is of the highest quality; the service of the same standard. It’s like eating in someone’s house in local Paris – it’s homely but outstandingly impressive. The two different menus offer a variety of dishes that would satisfy any customer and after sampling from both, I can see that they’re cleverly designed in a way that represents the restaurant in the best light.
Eating here is a decadent experience. I felt completely full and over indulged at the end of the meal – and I know I will be back. I need to be, it’s too good to stay away.