*THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED*
Now, ~LE PETIT ROBERT~ has been on my list of places to visit for far too long. Not quite sure what took me so damned long to get my act together and pay a visit to this reportedly well-loved bistro. We all have places on our must-try lists that evade us; for me, one of them is Firefly—for the life of me, I have no idea why I've never eaten there. Actually, that's a lie—I know exactly why I never had a burning desire check it out: a guy I was dating ended up taking another girl to Firefly for dinner, and actually told me about their meal, and how romantic the restaurant was. Yes, while we were dating. Classy, no? He was so fired. "Uh, security? Yes, I have another one for you to escort to the curb, thank you. Please come quickly."
But we're not here to discuss poor dating-meets-dining etiquette (that's for another missive)—today we're all about lunch. I sometimes wish I lived in the upper Polk—I'd be one happy (and tragically bougie) cat if I was able to amble over to Le Petit Robert for lunch, and grab a seat at the counter at William Cross Wine Merchants for wine tastings on Wednesday evenings with Steve Sherman, and then head over to Tablespoon or Pesce or Antica Trattoria for dinner, and then stumble home. I'd be huge, and also quite possibly known as the neighborhood drunk—you could find me sleeping in an aisle at the Jug Shop.
Let's head over to the bistro, shall we? Le Petit Robert is part of Pascal Rigo's Bay Bread empire; there is one of his Boulanges just next door, so you know where the restaurant's pumpkinseed epi bread comes from (which is exclusively at the restaurant, incidentally—you can't buy it). This corner bistro has a clutch of outdoor tables flanking the sidewalk, seriously primo seating on a sunny day. (They also have a popular brunch—the outdoor seats must be ideal for those in need of fresh air while waiting for their croque madame.) The interior is spacious, with high ceilings, and somewhat snazzed-up bistro décor—our cool server, who I felt like had been teleported from the sassy twenties (the only thing missing from his mojo were some spats), mentioned the room's vibe undergoes quite the transformation at night. Well then. I shall return!
So, lunch. This is somewhat of a "first impression" write-up since I've only been once, but I just had to share. Mister snappy server brought me a glass of rosé—yes, mommy was thirsty, and a citron presseé ($3) was not gonna cut it. I was seriously challenged with zeroing in on my appetizer prey—it was like a bistro game show, and I had to choose which showcase to bid on: the smoked trout ($11) is supposed to be a star, but the crispy squash blossoms ($10) were definitely flirting with me. If my dining partner was a fellow beef-eater I might have twisted her arm to try the steak tartare ($9.50), but the butter lettuce and beet salad ($9) was the victor. I know, me and beets. The presence of beets even overcame my mild hesitation at the truffle vinaigrette listed (truffle, there she is again, that brazen little hussy)—but it proved to be a delectable salad, studded with golden beets and hard-boiled egg, with red beet making a cursory appearance as a swath of tasty color across the plate and tender lettuce leaves.
To the plats! Robert Cubberly, who is the chef and owner, got me wishing I was a cow, with a few stomachs to spare. I mean, come on! The chopped chicken Cobb salad ($11.50), while not very Frenchie-authentic at all, granted, but it sounded so udderly delicious on this particularly hot day (see, now I'm the one that's fired). It was simply too broiling out for steak frites ($18.50). I'll be back for the leg of lamb tartine. Oh yes, I will. And you have to love a place that offers two kinds of hamburgers, either American-style, or with caramelized onions and Roquefort cheese (both $14). I caved in to the duck confit and dandelion green salad ($12.50), with a tart cherry vinaigrette. Good choice, tablehopper. The duck had a nicely crisp and well-seasoned crust, with a succulent interior, while the greens, softening under the heat of the duck, posed a perfect counterpoint. Why don't dandelion greens turn up on more menus? I know it's a weed and all, but come on, bitter is good!
Desserts run the gamut from profiteroles to a stone fruit and berry crisp ($7)—helllllllo peaches. We bid adieu to snappy thirties waiter/garçon, and now I'm curious about this joint for dinner. Perhaps a future setting for a date with a proper gent, who better not tell me all about the flirty lunch he had with a girl there that very week. (H.R. is already busy enough interviewing summer interns and temps to have to deal with yet another termination without 30-day notice.)
Note: if you dig Cubberly's cooking, according to Open Table, he teaches a monthly series of cooking classes on Tuesdays from 6pm-9:30pm. Each class will focus on the cuisine of a specific region of France. To register or to get more info, call the restaurant at 415-922-8100.
Le Petit Robert
2300 Polk St.
Cross: Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Bar menu 3pm-5:30pm