P'tite Ardoise Bistro, Highgate
P'tite Ardoise is a French bistro in Highgate, Perth, located in the space where Beaufort Street Steakhouse used to be, opposite the Brisbane Hotel. "P'tite Ardoise" means "little blackboard" or "little slate" in French, and the blackboard motif is used throughout the restaurant. The owners come from Normandy, France.
Inside, the restaurant has an intimate, warm, cosy feel. It's special but not swanky. The staff are friendly and speak with French accents. It's a lovely setting for a dinner date.
We say yes to bread to start our meal and soon receive warm mini bread rolls with butter and olive oil and tapenade for dipping. The bread is gluten-free, flavoured with herbs and parmesan cheese and delicious slathered with plenty of the soft butter.
At P'tite Ardoise there are two dinner menus. Le Classiques ("The Classics") and Menu du Jour ("Menu of the day") which changes daily. You can order from either or mix and match from both menus as you like. The Menu du Jour also includes daily specials of soup, fish and casserole of the day. The classic menu will especially suit carnivores, with duck and three beef dishes - fillet mignon, sirloin and tenderloin dishes. Many of the dishes, including desserts, are gluten free.
For my starter I order the seared scallops on roasted celeriac with rocket pesto (AU$20). On the plate are two small but plump scallops on piped celeriac mash and one enormous fat scallop on a potato doily. There's quite a bit of oil on the plate with the pesto and potato and by the time I'm finished my cutlery feels a touch greasy in my hands, but it's a tasty dish with beautifully cooked scallops.
Jac orders escargot a ma facon (Snails cooked my way, AU$19).
In each pot, hidden under a golden toast lid are three snails smothered in a sauce of tomato, cream and fresh herbs. The maitre'd tells us these are real French snails, imported from France.
Jac's a big fan of snails but this is my first time trying them. They remind me of mushrooms, but more chewy and a lot less springy. It is only after I've eaten a pot's worth of snails that I wish I'd thought to suck all the sauce off one and look for its "snaily" features.
Jac's main course is the poisson du jour (AU$34), the fish of the day: black cod with boiled potatoes, herb cream sauce and samphire. The cod is a wonderful piece of meaty white fish with a crisp crust. The samphire is a deep green and slightly crunchy. It's not as sea-salty as I'm expecting it to be, and I really like it.
I order the steak avec pomme sautees aux herbes (AU$45) - chargrilled Rangers Valley Black Angus 300-day grainfed sirloin steak with herbs sauteed potatoes, red wine jus and bearnaise. It's served on my own "little blackboard".
The steak is tender and has a lovely charry flavour, but the butchering is a little less impressive. It's been unevenly cut, noticeably thicker and rarer on one side. The potatoes are fantastic, golden and crisp with the rich, savoury beefy taste from having been cooked in fat. The red wine jus is hearty and flavoursome. I don't really need it as well as the bearnaise, but it's great for dipping the potatoes into.
Our main courses are accompanied by vegetables. A staff member comes around offering crusty dinner rolls and mini baguettes. This bread is complimentary; the parmesan bread we started our meal with is AU$3.50 per person.
We're in a French bistro, of course we order the creme brulee! All of P'tite Ardoise's desserts are made in-house.
The brulee looks like leopard skin but it's definitely caramel and not fur! It gives a good crack when we tap it with our spoons to reveal the soft, silky custard beneath. Interestingly, as we eat, we find that the bowl, not the custard, is flecked with black dots of vanilla. The Eiffel Tower-shaped shortbread biscuit is coated in crunchy sugar crystals as well as dusted liberally with icing sugar. It reminds me of the Danish Butter Cookies that come in a blue tin - specifically the sugar-coated ones. Any of you remember those? We work our way through the creme brulee and break pieces off the Eiffel Tower biscuit as we go. By the time the Eiffel Tower is all gone I'm covered in icing sugar but quite satisfied.
As we pay our bill, we're invited to open a mysterious wooden box that sits next to the front desk and choose a sweet little gift - little gem-like French berry lollies or Carambar chocolate caramels. It's a nice touch and we leave P'tite Ardoise smiling. I'm sure we'll be back.
P'tite Ardoise Bistro
283 Beaufort St
Highgate WA 6003
Telephone: (08) 9228 2008
Web: www.ptiteardoisebistro.com.au Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6.00pm onwards
Friday lunch 12 to 2pm
P'tite Ardoise is BYO.