Pros: Fun, cozy, foodie-friendly, great service
I dined at Les Petits Plats on the same day that I lunched at Septime – yes, it’s a hard life – and loved them both for different reasons. Septime is hip, modern, all stripped-down concrete, rough wood and metal, with fabulous, star-worthy food. At Les Petits Plats, there were echoes of the dishes we at Septime – while not quite as elaborate and refined, you could sense the generational affinities of the two chefs – but the place has a homier, warmer feel with its wooden furniture, red banquettes, brass railings and wine-laden-shelves. The service, provided by two waitresses and a waiter, was unfailingly warm, friendly and accommodating.
Les Petits Plats’ name refers to the fact that diners have the option of ordering small portions of the dishes on the blackboard menu at a lower price and in any combination (no dirty looks if you don’t order an entrée, plat, dessert), a truly great idea that I have never before encountered in Paris. Meat-hungry diners can order from a special (but pricey) menu of different cuts of Aubrac beef, which doesn’t seem designed to show off the chef’s creativity.
My friend Connie and I decided to order normal-sized courses and to share and share alike, trading dishes halfway through. We started with a winner: a chilled “green” soup with fresh brousse, which Connie was sure was going to be a little bush, but which I pronounced to be a sort of Corsican cottage cheese. I was only partly right: the Corsican cheese brocciu is a type of brousse made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, which has its own appellation d’origine contrôlée, while the ricotta-like brousse is also made in other places in France. In any case, it made a fine, creamy yet slightly solid base for the richly flavored soup, which came in a little carafe next to the bowl containing the brousse, both standing on a small cutting board. The other starter, a tartare of mullet and haddock with baby zucchini, attractively presented with a big zucchini flower on top, was fine, but didn’t set off any celebratory chimes.
For our shared main courses, we chose the rich and satisfying ravioles de paleron (beef shoulder palette ravioli) with baby leeks and bone marrow, and supions (squid) a la
plancha with black gnocchi, pourpier (purslane) and preserved lemon. While they were both delicious, it was the supions that had us oohing and aahing, especially over those luscious homemade gnocchi and the powerful tang of the citron confit. Both were served on soup plates with a profusion of fresh herbs.
Dessert did not disappoint, even though we clearly preferred the decadent chocolate and hazelnut tart, accompanied by a decorative smear of white and dark chocolate sauce and a
little pot of heavenly caramel ice cream, all served on a small cutting board, to the worthier strawberry and apricot gazpacho poured over a basil-flavored ice cube and served with a heartwarmingly good pistachio financier.
Our wine was a lovely and unusual Alsatian Pinot Noir (€30) made by Gérard Schueller, suggested by the waiter as an out-of-the-box pairing capable of accommodating the wide variety of dishes we ordered. He was right, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
In terms of creativity, quality and service, I would rate Les Petits Plats almost but not quite as high as Septime, since the food is not quite at the same level of sophistication and perfection. In terms of overall enjoyability, however, it gets 10 out of 10.Favorite