Monday, March 25, 2013

Maine Monday: Petite Jacqueline avec les enfants

"Since we've been sitting down, this is one of the best restaurants in town besides Vignola and Paciarino".

Shocking words to come out of the mouth of Little C&G. A confirmed Italophile, it's high praise coming from him, especially when the restaurant is a French bistro and he hasn't gotten past the charcuterie course yet.

Petite Jacqueline has many admirers besides our very own Little C&G. The James Beard Award nominee (Best New Restaurant semi-finalist, 2012) is packed most nights of the week. We go several times a month for brunch, lunch or dinner and we've always left the kiddos at home. But we decided the bustle and the noise provided the perfect atmosphere to introduce les petites to la cuisine Français. We figured if nothing on the menu appealed to them (escargots, fois gras, poisson, etc.) at least we'd stuff them with some baguettes then stop for a slice of pizza at Bonobo on the way home.

To get the soirée started, we ordered a cheese selection and a charcuterie selection for them to enjoy while we had our French onion soup. The lovely waiter helped us pick out some not too stinky cheeses and not too spicy meats, which they devoured before we could even get a sample.

Charcuterie and cured meats are just a fancy way of saying pepperoni or salami, which is what we told the little C&Gs back before they knew they liked it. It's all in how you sell it to them, and thankfully they haven't questioned us on it since. Plus it keeps them busy (all that bread helps) while we're enjoying our appetizers and cocktails.

French bistro food is slightly more kid friendly than fancy French food, and frites accompany almost everything. Big C&G loves his beef so he cleaned his plate of steak frites. Little C&G doesn't stray too far from his pasta so it was a little more of a challenge with him.

He and I consulted the menu together, talked it over, did some negotiating, and decided we'd share the burger. He's not a meat fan so I was very proud of him for being open to trying something new. The waiter tried to sell him on the risotto as a close cousin of pasta but our resident Italian expert wasn't buying it. Luckily the burger was a hit and somehow they both still had room for dessert.

We had been talking up Petite Jacqueline to the boys for weeks and we were so glad they liked it. They put on their collared shirts and they brought their best behavior and an open mind. I think it helped that we had a backup plan in mind (food-wise) and that it was a loud Saturday night. We were prepared to offer up a trip to Gelato Fiasco afterwards if needed, but they couldn't be tempted away from the Petite Jacqueline dessert menu. Creme brûlée and pots de creme au chocolate were the perfect way to end our night a la Français.

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