Thursday, January 12, 2012

Romancing the Restaurant, French Style

Hello faithful readers and welcome to the first review of 2012! I hope your New Year was as festive and slaphappy as mine was. (I’ll tell you now; I was a hot little tomato). Now that the stale taste of flat champagne and glitter has been eradicated, we need to get down to the good stuff, namely a new, fresh food post. But before we jump in with our forks, I feel the need to reflect. At the start of 2012 I have realized that we, you the reader and me the eater, have covered a lot of ground together. We have been to countless dinners, and had multiple, long conversations about food, wine and life. One might even say that we are dating, only in the platonic, food based and digital sense of course. (Is there any other kind? Please…)

It should be celebrated that you’ve made it this far with me, (since October 2010) because in that time we’ve laughed, cried and ate our way through some fantastic meals. This can only mean that we must be going steady, right? I’ve certainly taken you out to dinner a lot, had many glasses if wine with you across the table (or computer screen) and even took a few trips together, often to romantic places! (Vegas baby). I guess it’s time to consider this day, January 12th, 2012 as an anniversary of sorts, and a celebration that we’ve made it past the casual blogging plateau. (All those flirty texts were getting exhausting, weren’t they?) Things are getting serious and for that, I thank you.

Now, on our anniversary, it is only fitting that I review a romantic restaurant. And because what’s more romantic then the French and their food, (Ok maybe Italy, or the Caribbean, or something like that) today we go to Petite Jacqueline, with a rave.

Petite Jacqueline
190 State Street
Portland, ME

The Novice Fork gives this petite gem
4 forks for great French inspired food,
efficient service, and beautiful atmosphere.

The window front, so classy! 

Having been to this restaurant several times before, I’m amazed I haven’t sat down to review it yet. Seriously, what have I been up to? (Damn you Brad Goreski and your corky style sense.) But now that I feel confident enough to peel myself away from “It’s a Brad, Brad World” to write a coherent sentence, all attention must be paid. While relatively new to the Portland scene, Petite’s roots run deep (its creators are also behind what makes 555 so special).  But as the more casual and affordable cousin to 555, don’t expect to pay an arm and leg for its amazing food. Well maybe just a hand, at around $21 for the average plate.

Its no surprise the food experience here is a delicious French meal. But it’s the atmosphere that transports the eater to another country. Its all in the details here. Marble table tops, light wood floors, baguettes wrapped in brown paper bags, blue and white dish towels as napkins, and some of the best oysters I’ve had. This is good. My last visit with my best college friend only confirmed this. On a cold, late December night, I could only think of Petite Jacqueline with its warm, cozy dinning room, and elevated bar, to sample some delicious wine and reconnect. After waiting at the bar for a table for about 30 minutes (call ahead to make a reservation) we were seated and within seconds, fresh wine, bread (the baguette in the brown paper) were delivered by the very appropriately dressed wait staff (blue and white striped shirts anyone?) and orders for appetizers were made.

Settling on oysters, naturally, and salads for the both of us. The oysters, as confirmed by my mate, were excellent, as were the salads we ordered, the “Salade d'automne” or autumn salad with bleu cheese and roasted beets. For our entrees? We both ordered the steak frites, or grilled steak with salt and cracked pepper with hand-cut fires. Ordered medium rare and dressed in a simple sauce, this is one of the most delicious and simple dishes. Petite Jacqueline masters it.

Ending the meal with Crème Brulee, (and more wine) was icing on the very French cake we just enjoyed. I’m very glad my friend got to experience a new place, and I’m happy my new favorite restaurant remains top quality. One proviso (it might be a bit cheesy so forgive me)… Do remember that this is a romantic spot, so love the person you are eating with when you go. (Mine was of the platonic variety, but you get the idea. Maybe next time it won’t be… here’s hoping)

There is nothing like discovering good food with a great friend, and there is truly no restaurant in Portland ME quite like Petite Jacqueline. A very well deserved 4 Forks to you. I’ll be back soon and I’d better see you all there too, with a date. 

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