“ Address: 38-40 Grassmarket / Edinburgh / EH1 2JU / Scotland / Tel: 0131 226 2442 „
After a fairly disappointing meal at another restaurant last week, my boyfriend and I decided to go to a restaurant that had been recommended to us for this week's meal out, rather than going to somewhere unknown on a whim. My friend had told me fantastic things about Petit Paris down on the Grassmarket, and since it's only a ten minute walk from my flat and they had a good value offer on at the time, my boyfriend and I were very enthusiastic to visit the mini French capital for the evening.
We made the effort to arrive fairly early, as we had seen signs advertising their 'main and a coffee for £7.90' offer, which is a very good deal, but since this was only valid up to 7pm we had to go earlier than we normally would go out. As we got there not long after six we fortunately didn't have to wait for a table, and were offered a very pleasant table by the window. The lovely waitress was quick to bring us menus and water, and explained to us that the £7.90 offer was valid only on the specials listed on the blackboard, and informed us that the fish of the day was coley. Although I was delighted to choose from one of the specials I had a glance at the main menu anyway, and was very happy that we had decided to come early when I saw that many of the main dishes cost in excess of £15. While that price is ok for the odd treat, I was very thankful that we had much cheaper options to choose from.
Since you could have a starter from the specials board for only an extra £3, we decided to go all out and have one. My boyfriend went for mussels, and I decided to be adventurous and chose a starter of snails from the main menu (£6.90), and then for our mains I chose the coley and he chose pork chops. As he was starting with mussels and I was having fish, we decided to have a bottle of house white wine to go with our food. The waitress brought us a lovely bottle, which we interestingly were to drink out of small water glasses rather than traditional wine glasses. I had never seen this before in a restaurant but when I told my mother about it, she said that apparently that's a very French way of drinking wine, so I think of it as a nice authentic touch.
I wasn't surprised that the choice of glassware was something typically French, as the whole restaurant had an authentic Parisian air to it. Both the waiter and waitress that we saw were French, and I'm sure that I heard them speaking French to the chefs as well. The atmosphere was friendly and cosy, and although the restaurant was very small with only six or so tables it felt comfortable and in no way crowded. The toilets were towards the back of the restaurant, and were nice and clean, though it was very cold in there! It was a very pretty little restaurant and I have no complaints about the way it looked.
So, anyway, the food! I was very excited when our starters arrived, as they were both served in a way that I had never seen before. Both of our 'plates' were made of a hard marbley stone like substance which were quite thick, each with several smallish spherical dents in them. My dish had sixteen of these holes in, and in each of them was a gorgeous piece of snail marinated surrounded by a delicious green garlic and parsley mixture, which I got out with a teaspoon. I had never tried snails before and really enjoyed their slightly meaty yet seafoody flavour, and the oil marinade which they came in was exquisite. We were given a basket of baguette and I used a lot of it to mop up the sauce with, and it tasted delicious with the bread. My boyfriend's mussels were served similarly, in a dish with six hollows in it (which is significantly less food than what I had, but I was paying more than twice as much as he was for it), each of which had a lovely mussel in with the same sauce as accompanied my snails. We were both delighted with our starters, and it was the best thing that I had eaten in quite a while.
Things went from excellent to better when the mains arrived. All I knew about my main was that the fish was coley, and I didn't know what it would come with or how it would be served. I was pleasantly surprised when I was presented with a plate which looked absolutely delicious. There was a generously sized piece of coley sitting on a small pile of creamy mashed potato sitting in a perfect amount of a creamy tomato sauce, decorated with several small mussels still in their shells. It was much more attractive and exciting than I expected, and I was delighted when it tasted even better than it looked. The fish was soft and tasted very high quality, the mash had a perfect creamy taste and texture, and the sauce tasted of beautiful fresh tomatoes as well as being creamy and almost sweet. The mussels were nice and fresh, and were a nice touch on an excellent meal. Everything complemented everything else on the plate, and each mouthful was as beautiful as the last. My boyfriend's pork came in a mustardy sauce on the same mashed potato as I had, and also tasted fantastic. The meat was cooked to perfection and the sauce was a perfect choice.
We were quite full by the time we had finished our first two courses, but had a look at the dessert menu when we were offered it anyway. I knew that I would have been satisfied without a pudding, but since the food had been so good so far I was really tempted to see how good their desserts could be, so I decided to go for a Crème Brulee while my boyfriend chose cheeses. My dessert was very good, though I would say that my first two courses were better. My boyfriend's cheeses were very good and came with a nice bit of salad, and I really enjoyed stealing small bits of them. After the desserts, we both had a very nice calvados and I had a black coffee.
My boyfriend and I both loved our whole meal, and as well as it being miles better than the meal out we'd had the previous week, it was one of the nicest meals that I've had in my life. The bill came to £30 each, which was very reasonable for a three course meal with a bottle of wine between us and a liqueur and coffee each. If we'd gone after 7pm, however, we would have ended up spending at least a tenner each more, so I'd recommend going early enough to get the deal unless you're happy to spend quite a lot. I enjoyed every second of my time in Petit Paris, and even enjoyed a short conversation with the waitress in my relatively basic French. I would strongly recommend this restaurant to all of you, as with the offer the prices are definitely student friendly.