Located on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, Le Petit has been one of my favorite French bistros. This semi-casual, small restaurant with an intimate and personal atmosphere is a place that my wife and I have patronized for the past 5 years or more (more regularly before the birth our daughter). I would attribute our loyalty as patrons to their courteous service, the good food, decent prices, and perhaps most of all, their gracious wine service.
Their wine menu, while neither extensive nor exquisite, should manage to serve most occasions. Bottle prices are very reasonable (’04 Kistler Les Noisetiers Chardonnay for $75…about the same at retail.) and half-bottles are available as well. Best of all, they allow guests to bring our own wine for a $10 corkage fee. To me, this speaks loudly about how they regard wine as unpretentious accompaniments to their cuisine. On most visits, I bring my own to Le Petit and happily pay the reasonable corkage fee, which pays for a first class service. It’s worth it.
When my wife and I visited Le Petit for the umpteenth time last Saturday, we brought a 2001 Chard Farm Pinot Noir Finla Mor from Central Otago, New Zealand. We purchased this very bottle from a store in the Marlborough wine country during our honeymoon 4 years ago. It was the very same wine that we enjoyed together at Orbit, the restaurant on the top of the Sky City Tower in Auckland. Suffice to say, each delicious sip of this wine brought back fond memories.
Upon arriving, our waiter graciously acknowledged the bottle in my hand, inspected its label, and readily prepared 2 Riedel crystal globes on the table. When we told him that we’d start with something harder as aperitifs, he gladly uncorked the wine to let it “air” while we enjoyed very delicious lime margarita (for her) and a smooth Grey Goose vodka martini with olives. Both cocktails hit the spot just right and wound us down sufficiently.
(At 10pm, less crowded by then)
Our waiter insisted that we did not hurry with ordering our dishes, and we were more than happy to oblige his suggestion. We eventually ended up with a plate of César salad and a bowl of onion soup gratinée with melted Gruyere cheese for starters. As entrées went, we ordered a filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes and Dijon brandy sauce (for her), and a grilled veal chop with shallots, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Both entrées were cooked to medium temperature perfection. We closed our meal with an order of raspberry crème brûlée to share. Everything was excellent, except for the onion soup, which I found to be a bit too salty.
Another pleasant point about Le Petit’s wine service: asking for a bucket of ice to cool my red wine was a totally painless experience. The request was complied without a single flinch or a note of absurdness. On many occasions at other lesser “fine” establishments, I had to reconfirm my intent, either in response to a polite inquiry or by the server’s unintentional body language.
And the ‘01 Chard Farm Pinot that we brought to the restaurant? Just great to pair with the dishes we had. It was supple and mellow, yet resplendent with red berries, cherries and lively acidity. 4 stars (vg).
The wine took us back to the top of Auckland. The only downside being this was the only bottle I had, and I have not been able to find one by the same producer in the United States (online or otherwise).
Le Petit Restaurant (formerly Le Petite Bistro)
13360 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Food 3.75 stars (g – vg)
Wine selections 3 stars (g), corkage fee $10 per 750ml
Service 4.5 stars (vg – ex)
Overall 4 stars (vg)