Thursday, 17 January 2013

P'tite Ardoise Bistro

P'tite Ardoise Bistro on Urbanspoon

Ça va?

No, not just a daggy Google translate to fit in with a French restaurant post. That was actually from my brain.
Believe it or not I learnt the language for 4 years, and all I've managed to remember to this day are numbers, "My name is" and "I live in Western Australia". It puts my distinction award to shame (which is probably covered in dust at the moment), if I knew where it was.

Learning French is just a fragment of my memory. And it is just that: I remember learning French, yet I don't remember any actual French that I learnt.

And being in Perth, it is near impossible to practice the language with anyone or anything. There isn't a plethora of French cuisine on this side of the world, so when a good one finally reveals itself, it gets excessive amounts of praise and business.

So much so that it could be annoying to get a table, and equally as annoying to talk over the sheer volume in the restaurant when you are at that table that you finally manage to book.
Bread Selection (per person) - $3.50
Waitresses are quick with the procedure of water pouring, menu giving and bread offering as soon as we are seated. I spied all the bread being kept toasty in a small oven, which explains why they are still delightfully warm when you select them out of the basket.

The mini baguettes, olive loafs and herb dinner rolls are followed by a delivery of a long plate, its 3 indents filled with olive oil, a soft creamy butter spread and a salty olive tapenade as accompaniments to the bread.

It is a beautiful pleasure to eat and a distracting temptation before you even look at the menu to order your main meals, but personally, I did have a small disagreement with the method that staff used to "offer" bread. More on that later.
Escargot a Ma Facon - $19
The back garden is probably the only place you would want to see a snail and while the word "snail" may make you writhe in discomfort let alone eating one, it seems almost incorrect not to try this theoretically gross, mucous-secreting mollusk at a French restaurant.
Snails cooked My Way
The presentation was very appetising and quite far from anything I had expected to see - I just couldn't imagine pretty-looking snails. I originally thought diners had a choice of how to cook the snails as I was deceived by the name snails cooked my way.

The dish comes with a warning of "Be careful, it's very hot", referring to the 3 cups and the puff of steam that is released when you lift off the golden, buttery, peppered toast ceilings. Each cup held around 3-4 snails so serving size was quite substantial, purely because that was more snails than I could stomach.
Peekaboo!
I had a friend in primary school whose parents owned a French restaurant which my class visited, so  I am not entirely new to snail consumption. However at 8 years old, I didn't exactly realise that I was putting a snail in my mouth (which was probably a good thing at that stage).

The chewy snails reside in 3 separate sauces; all with herbs, tomato and cream but with escalating levels of creaminess. It is both this cream and the pure thought of ingesting what I usually see on my porch that limited my intake to just 2 snails, before leaving the rest to A to finish.

I couldn't stop picturing them as inhabitants of my garden, and surely enough when I got home, there were 2 on my garage door.
Duet of Veal and Venison with Prawns, Mash, Spicy poached Pear and Jus - $39
It took considerable time for mains to arrive but boy did they make a grand entrance.

Each ingredient was undoubtedly superbly cooked but the one aspect of this dish that won my tastebuds over was the deliciously sweet poached pear, its soft texture and fruity flavours mingling with spices. Très bien indeed!

There are usually 2 telltale signs that reveal someone who is in love with their food - declaring loudly and showering it with praise non-stop, or the silence that follows with focused devouring of it. On this occasion, I was of the first species.
Different angle of the above dish
It was a spectacular sight, this food tower presenting multiple layers, each offering a different item, flavour and texture. Dining at a restaurant named "Little Blackboard", it is no surprise many meals are indeed served on little "blackboards".

These particular mains were quite popular on the night, as I eyed the exact same order on our adjacent table which was so close that the tables were like just separated conjoint twins.
Blanched Vegetables
All main meals are accompanied by a small dish of vegetables, made up of blanched green beans, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli and drizzled with oil.

All main meals are also accompanied by a simple but effective, and heavily-accented bon appètit! to remind you to enjoy your meal while you melt into that luscious French accent. And French waiters.
Roast Lamb Rump on Basil Mash, Purple Carrot, Tomato Beurre Blanc - $38
I couldn't go past lamb and ordered the roast lamb rump. The lamb itself was cooked to medium, sealed to retain its juices and was quite a large serving.

This was my first time trying purple carrot, which looked like a complete foreign object on the dish. I was underwhelmed that it had identical taste and texture to its normal orange twin, even though identical twins with different skin colour probably don't exist.

I was excited by the tinge of green in the mashed potato, but the presence of basil didn't quite come through for me. Decorated with cherry tomatoes, the dish was finished with a moat of sauce.

Beurre blanc means "white butter" in French, and is essentially a wine and butter emulsion that is used in French cuisine, which looked beautiful with this dish.
Everything on the plate, up close and personal
After a long, hard ponder, we said no to dessert as I planned to fill the dessert hole in my stomach with something from the Beaufort Street Festival that was still chugging on in full steam just down the road (blog post to come, possibly half a year later :P). This night visit to the festival was a load more pleasant than when we visited in the afternoon in sweltering heat!

P'tite Ardoise seems like just a detour from my expedition down Beaufort Street that day, huh?

In this instance, it seems it is more of a sin NOT to have dessert than to have it, with all the delectable desserts on offer. Next time. Just like all my other "next times".
P'tite Ardoise is a little quaint restaurant which you wouldn't expect noise levels to get quite rowdy in during dinner time. The close seating arrangements look like one long communal dining table that give you quite a good view of bum when diners squeeze in next to you to get to their wall seat.
Full restaurant, happy diners, happy boss.
The restaurant's small capacity is fully utilised by having 2 separate seatings for dinner, which meant tables need to be vacated by a certain time. The initially empty restaurant filled up fast, and hearing (plus singing along to) Happy Birthday 4 times within 30 minutes is a sign that this place is a popular choice for celebrating special occasions.
Ditch that quiet, dim lit restaurant romantic experience. Romance here instead, in the hustle & bustle of Paris.
Undoubtedly we had a really positive experience here, from the food to the atmosphere and feeling serenaded every time the waitress released incredible sounding words from her mouth; it all made me swoon.

...

Aforementioned, the only issue I had regarding my otherwise polished experience here was the way in which staff offers bread to diners, which could be misleading and could be interpreted as complimentary. From our experience, staff come around and ask, "Would you like some bread?" from a handheld basket while bread is actually listed in the Starters section of the menu and is available to order.

Of course, it is not the monetary value diners are being charged for that is the problem, for it is superb quality bread. It is advisable however, from a diner's perspective that they are told of the charge for accepting the seemingly complimentary "Would you like some bread?" offer. I gave this suggestion to the restaurant to which I received the reply below:

"Regarding the bread we know sometime the staff forgot to mention to people is not free of charge, but find a place in Perth who offer good quality fresh bake bread as many as you want with butter, EV olive oil, and Tapenade for 3.50$ per person??"

Personally I thought that was quite a different, unorthodox and unexpected way to handle customer feedback. And while I do regard P'tite Ardoise to be a very commendable restaurant, there are indeed other Perth establishments who offer endless amounts of quality bread and condiments free of charge. I am not implying in any way that the bread here should be free, I am merely suggesting that diners should be informed that there is a charge attached.

Due to dietary requirements I was not able to have the olive oil, butter or tapenade with my bread anyway (which goes towards this charge), which are automatically delivered to the table once you accept the offer of bread. Besides this incident and the response that came with it that left me feeling a little uneasy, I do look forward to dining there again; especially with their everchanging menu of the day.
...

Being face to face with all the live, authentic, aesthetically pleasing, French-speaking waiters, the urge to roll some français off my tongue and show off my hopeless multilingual non-talent was quite massive! That exotic accent is incredibly soothing but there is the danger of them explaining the menu elaborately with me not understanding a single word.

I admit I didn't catch everything (more like anything) our waitress said.
But that is to be expected since we were dining in France at that moment...oui?

***
(08) 9228 2008
Tuesday - Saturday: 6pm onwards
www.ptiteardoisebistro.com.au

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