Considering that Adam took over 130 pictures of London restaurants we ate at, it was only natural that we start chronicling our thoughts and opinions about the food we eat. We've totally become accidental foodies. It all started out when Sheila started calling Adam "the human trash compactor"; since he eats almost anything. But somewhere along the way we started having discussions about food and seeking out culinary adventures when on travel. We bring a unique perspective to this arena as we're both vegetarians (no meat, poultry, or fish). I suspect we will both have varying opinions on the food, and hope to not only have a record for posterity, but provide some fun, useful if not amateur insight.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a visit to france without leaving glen park!

Le P’tit Laurant is a French bistro located in the heart of Glen Park village, a neighborhood we know well for those who have visited us. As vegetarians, we tend to pass on French cuisine because there’s typically nothing to eat of substance;Le P’tit Laurant is a wonderful exception though, that we’ve had the pleasure to eat at.

Upon entering, you feel transported to Parisian bistro, with old antiquities, tin plaques, old vine decanters, fleur de lys silverware, and Pastis/Ricard bottles. All of the wait staff are French, which always makes for an enjoyable experience ordering food. Tip, this place gets very busy so it’s well worth it to make reservations a couple of weeks in advance. They also have a three-course tasting menu from Sunday through Thursday, for $25 per person, which is a great bargain!

We made early dinner reservations on Sunday evening and were promptly seated at a corner table, which was great for people watching inside and outside the restaurant. The waitress even came by to explain every vegetarian option they had available that night, a nice touch. With 15 minutes of us arriving the place was completely packed, but the noise level was fine and we could easily continue our conversation.

We decided to order separate appetizer and share an entrée and dessert. Sheila opted for Crottin de Chavignol chaud et salade (warm bread with a pat of melted cheese served over mixed green salad). I started with Napoleon de Betterave et mozzarella, vinaigrette au balsamique (fresh mozzarella and red beet napolean with balsamic dressing). For our entrée it was the L’assiette végétarienne du Chef, on this night stuffed zucchini with fresh tomato sauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions. And for dessert was had the Profiteroles glace vanille sauce chocolat (profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce).

Crottin de Chavignol: A very balanced and satisfying salad to start the evening. The dressing for the greens was a slightly sweet, which complemented the somewhat earthy flavor of the cheese. The greens themselves were perfectly fresh, what you certainly come to expect from SF restaurants. Placing the pat of cheese on the piece of toast was a great idea that preventing wilted greens. This also allowed Sheila to control the consistence of each bite. Definitely would order this again, perhaps even as a main.

Napoleon de Betterave: A beet and mozzarella pairing may seem odd, but this dish completely worked. I was swayed by the waitress’ recommendation. The presentation alone gets my vote with layers of beets, greens, mozzarella stacked 3 inches high, drizzled with balsamic dressing. Each bite brought out another layer of flavors. First the bold red beets came through, followed by the mild yet mature mozzarella (almost tasted smoked), then the fresh greens and balsamic cleaned my palate. Individually each component wouldn’t have been exciting, but together this dish hit the right notes. I would also order this again.

Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Tomato Sauce: In a word it was DELICIOUS. When you first looked at it, the dish looked like a simple stew. But one bite unlocked an explosion of flavors consisting of carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes, and cream. The veggies were tender yet maintain a nice bit. The tomato cream sauce was the perfect dipping stew for our warm table baguette. We could have eaten that only all night and would have been perfectly happy. The hollowed zucchinis that sat in the center of our stew were filled with a sprinkling of cheese, zucchinis, red peppers, and carrots. The zucchini itself was firm and provide a nice textural change and crunch to the tender veggies of the stew. The severing portion was definitely enough to share amongst two people.

Profiteroles: The waitress advised that Le P’tit Laurant was known for this dessert. There were three roles and each came with a petite scope of vanilla ice cream. The entire plate was then covered with warm semi-sweet chocolate sauce. The first few bites were fantastic, the crunch of the profiteroles, the cool sweetness from the ice cream, and the warmth from the sauce. However, the profiteroles themselves became soggy quickly due to the amount sauce. This was certainly a dish where the sum of the parts tasted much better than each individual component. It bordered on being too sweet primarily because of the sauce. Of course having a sweet tooth meant that I literally wiped the bowl clean. I think next time we’ll opt for the cheesecake or pain perdu. But we’ll let you be the judge.

Our bill came to around $60, which included a ½ carafe of red wine. I thought this was very reasonable price for a satisfying meal; note that the entrée itself was $17. All in all, Sheila and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal and will be going back once the seasonal menu changes again. I would recommend Le P’tit Laurant wholeheartedly, not just because it’s in Glen Park, but because it really does embody what a bistro is all about – taking simple ingredients and elevating them into a noteworthy dish, served in a cozy neighborhood atmosphere, with charming wait service.