What: Le Petit Deux
Where:: 27 King Street, Newcastle
Prices:: Appetisers, $3 to $26; mains, $11 to $28; sides, $7; plat du jour plus glass of wine, $19.90; desserts, $5.50 to $11
Chef:: Lesley Taylor
Wines:: Five whites, four reds, one dessert; $7 to $12 by the glass, $30 to $48 for the bottle
Hours:: Open seven days, breakfast 8am-11.30, lunch from noon
Vegetarian:: Three dishes
Bottom line:: Entree, main and dessert for two $60 to $80, without drinks
As soon as you see the bicycle with its basket full of flowers out the front of Le Petit Deux, an excitement creeps over you.
Are we in Pareeeee? Well, no. But this new venture from Restaurant Deux chef and owner Lesley Taylor has faithfully created a little touch of France right here in Newcastle.
With authentic bistro fare, Taylor’s cafe-style second offering is more relaxed and rustic than its formal sister, with a focus on dishes that are honest, hearty and delicious.
It is open seven days for breakfast and lunch. On this particular visit it was a dreary, blustery day, and a warming lunch was needed.
There are more than a dozen options on the lunch menu, all with a distinctive Gallic slant.
The gnocchi a la parisienne is a creamy bowl of joy – light, fluffy eggy morsels with mushrooms baked in a rich bechamel sauce and melted cheese. Rabbit pappardelle – light, handmade noodles perfectly embraced with a ragout of rabbit, carrot, green olives and sage actually brought a wide grin to my face; and delicate crepes, with either spinach and gruyere or chicken and mushroom, are balanced with a fresh salad of radicchio, witlof and cos and a zesty vinaigrette.
A confit of chicken is served on a bed of buttery pommes puree and petit pois a la Francais (French style peas with lettuce and chunks of speck). The Maryland is tender, the puree addictive and the serving bountiful.
A plat du jour is also on offer on weekdays and includes a glass of chardonnay or merlot for the very reasonable price of $19.90.
Regulars can come to depend upon a certain dish on a certain day with classics such as coq au vin, blanquette de veau (veal ragout), cassoulet, steak frites and boeuf bourguignon.
The traditional Burgundy stew arrives steaming hot and wholesome, a vision with a crusty golden pastry top breaking to reveal a delicious tender beef stew beneath. More rich gravy within would have been very welcome, especially in order to dunk the crispy pommes frites which accompany many dishes. The aioli packs a garlicky punch, as do quite a few of the meals, so don’t plan any close conversations afterwards, however the simple pleasure of dipping your golden frites into the creamy mayo is certainly worth it.
The soup of the day – in this case French onion – has a heady aroma and is packed full of flavour. Served with slices of crusty baguette with melted cheese, I’m hoping it is tweaked in the future to include the bread atop the soup and baked, a true peasant’s feast.
There is barely room to breathe let alone indulge in dessert, and so a follow-up visit will be necessary, and the breakfast menu looks equally delicious.
The team show their discipline with the kitchen on full display, and the wait staff are cheery and informed. The decor still feels slightly incomplete in achieving that cosy bistro feel, but the cafe-style No.14 chairs, chalkboards and lamps are a step in the right direction.
Taylor’s food is warm, tasty and nourishing and from the lack of empty chairs during most lunchtimes, it’s clear the locals agree.
A most welcome addition to the Newcastle eating scene. Magnifique!