It was a bit overcast on Thursday as the three of us walked up from our house to Le Petit Paris, the restaurant on the edge of Daglan’s main square. My wife Jan and I have eaten at LPP many times in the past, of course, but on Thursday we were accompanied by a newcomer to the restaurant.
With us was Alex, a young English woman and a student at the University of Edinburgh, currently employed for the summer as an au pair for two children in the village. She had wanted to try the restaurant, and knew that we enjoyed it. So, after a glass or two of Champagne at our house, we headed to lunch. Despite the grey weather, we were seated on the terrace, protected by a large umbrella.
Although we had enjoyed half a bottle of Champagne chez nous, we still had Champagne cocktails at our table while nibbling on the amuse-bouches — small glasses of chilled potato-and-green-bean soup, and duck rillettes. Then it was on to the main event. And the final score was, for me anyway, two hits and one miss.
Full disclosure. I should note at the start that I find the notion of raw chunks of white onion on a “fine” dish to be off-putting at best. Sure, you can have them on your hot dog at a baseball game. And once cooked down, they lose their sharpness and can be delicious on all kinds of food. But to my mind, using raw white onion on a delicate dish is like a woman getting dressed up for an evening out, and then dabbing gasoline behind her ears. So there.
And now on to Hit No. 1. This was my entrée, and it was quite wonderful. It’ a refreshing salad of cracked wheat with lots of citrus flavour, and perfectly cooked shrimp. It did have a few pieces of white onion on it — why? why? — but they were easy to move aside.
The Miss. My main course was the “miss.” It was a piece of salmon, roasted with a chopped- walnut crust, and served atop a bed of puréed white beans. So far, so good. But if the X-ray vision on your Internet browser is working properly, you’ll see that inside the salmon, things had become too dry; yes, it was overcooked, probably by several minutes. And then to make matters worse, there were bits of raw white onion scattered all over the place.
Hit No. 2. Fortunately the meal closed on a high note, with LPP’s own take on that classic French dessert, the Paris-Brest cake. (The original was created in 1910 to honour the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race, and the round shape is supposed to suggest bicycle wheels. It’s made of chou pastry and typically filled with a praline-flavoured cream.) In the Le Petit Paris version, there were strawberries in the cream, and deeply toasted walnuts on top. Outstanding.
So on balance, it was a good lunch, accompanied by a nice rosé wine from Provence, and enhanced by an enjoyable chat with Alex. Unfortunately, through the night, all I could taste was raw onions.