Since Petrelle has had remarkably little reporting on Chow, hopefully this will be useful.
Firstly, we're not sure we can trust Souphie anymore. We chose Petrelle chiefly on his recommendation and were disappointed by his description of what to expect.
Petrelle isn't just expensive but very expensive for what you get: our two starters cost 53 euros
and our two mains cost another 68 euros. That's an awful lot for a starter like an artichoke salad or a main of pigeon amounting to no more than two thumb size pieces of the bird, on the bone. The pigeon was delicious as was a main course SINGLE sweetbread and both had excellent vegetable accompaniments. But we didn't feel either main (or 24 euro plus starter) earned its pricing considering the location near the Gare du Nord and the tiny portions for the mains. Honestly, we are not greedy and portions are very rarely too small for us but even though the starters were generous the mains were pitifully small. Compared to this place, L'Ambroisie is good value considering its great location, portions, luxury ingredients and service. Petrelle lacked generosity when it came to the main part of the meal and thus seemed somehow inauthentic given the simplistic cooking approach.
Aside from the food, the restaurant's atmosphere initially struck us as charming but was undermined by the affect of the sole waiter; who ultimately didn't look after us much, pushing a not exactly competitively priced Domaine du Cayron 2008 (49 euros, large markup) so much it was tough to refuse. He never poured our wine or water for us beyond the first time. Unfortunately, we were also seated next to a ghastly Englishman, exceptionally friendly with the waiter and a regular, who chatted loudly with him in English about NY dining and complained about Per Se's wine list being too pricey compared to Petrelle's. Quite bizarre. He was dismissive about NY eating in general, despite not having even heard of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon when the waiter recommended it (surprising recommendation we thought, given the place). The English international dining expert asked us if there were any good restaurants in Brooklyn when we talked to him...
We were aware of the cat but were surprised to see a dog cruising around the kitchen too. This seemed like an extra animal too far (especially for the expense, clearly the chef is eccentric). The toilet is in a phenomenally dank basement.
Would we go back? Obviously not, although we at least liked what we ate in its smallness. Just to put things in perspective, we ate a fantastic meal at Spring two nights ago and look forward to going back there. Lunch yesterday at L'Arpege was super. Will report on those in more detail later.
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