I have been intending to eat at P’tite Ardoise for a while now – it always scores highly on Urbanspoon, so I was delighted to finally get a booking (booking is not easy – they only seem to answer the phone in the afternoons).
I arrived early for my booking and was surprised to find the restaurant already very busy. The tables are very close together, so they pack quite a few people in. It has a quirky ambience, is a little old-fashioned, and the waiters are all French, speaking fluent Franglais to the diners “Bonsoir, can I get you a drink?”.
On first view of the menu, I wasn’t impressed, just three choices of starter, main and dessert, until I discovered the ‘menu du jour’ on the other side. I had been looking at the ‘classics’ menu.
The waitress brought lovely fresh bread in a basket – baguettes, olive bread, bread with grains, and I loved that they served it with a trio of butter, olive oil and tapenade. I cannot eat much dairy and I prefer olive oil to butter with my bread.
I chose the rillettes de tours to start – similar to a rustic pate, but not as smooth as pate – pork belly with sauternes jelly and crispy bread. The bread was so crispy that it was extremely hard, and made my hard palate sore trying to crunch through it. The dish was served with an apple chutney, a raspberry jelly and some dill pickles. The pork was extremely tasty, but the overly hard bread was a let down – I would have loved some softer toast, then it would have been perfect.
My companion chose the scallops and Merguez sausage with celeriac puree and calvados jus. He thoroughly enjoyed the dish and it looked fabulous.
Other choices of starter included pumpkin soup, terrine of the day, and thinly sliced peppered beef with prawns and celeriac remoulade. It did occur to me that this would not be a great restaurant choice for the vegetarian diner.
For the main I chose snapper with manjimup truffle and potato macaire and port jus.
The snapper was lovely – perfectly cooked, but I didn’t really enjoy the potato macaire, it was quite dry in texture and I didn’t really detect the truffle flavour. We were also served a dish of vegetables which were nicely cooked but fairly plain.
My companion chose slow-cooked beef cheek with mashed potato, bacon, mushroom and red wine jus. He really enjoyed it and said that it was perfect winter food.
Other choices of main included casserole of the day, lamb shank and ratatouille crepes.
The portion sizes were quite huge and we didn’t feel that we had room for a dessert. If we had opted for dessert, we could have chosen from floating islands, chestnut meringue, plum clafoutis, trio of mini desserts or assorted truffles and nougat. All of them sound lovely but after two huge courses and two rounds of bread, we were finished.
So would I rush back to P’tite Ardoise ? The food was definitely tasty, I think my companion chose better dishes than me, the service was a little haphazard, and the tables felt cramped. The whole restaurant was quite noisy and lively and is a fun place to be, however, I don’t think it quite lived up to the hype. It was very good, but didn’t blow my mind.