Petite Jacqueline is a bit of a paradox. You immediately wish you were more slender upon standing in the entryway, but you will soon and happily be stuffing yourself silly on baguette, butter, wine, steak, fries and aioli, all that is best in life. How can we reconcile such a galling conundrum? By ordering dessert, bien sur.
The next thing I noticed was all the busy servers wearing similar, but not matching, horizontal-striped, boatneck Breton shirts, which make everyone seem a little chicer and more rive gauche, like Picasso, or Jean Seberg in Breathless. We slid into our small table and took a look around. The decor is expected, though not hackneyed, posters and sconces that resemble early advertising disguised as art and gaslamps.
Our Cheshire Cat waiter brought Pellegrino and a bistro carafe of flat water, wine and a mini loaf of crusty bread in a paper bag with tangy herb butter straight away. The simple paper menu presents all the quite necessary things: onion soup, haricots vert, escargot, charcuterie, rabbit, and cheese. I already knew I had to have steak frites ($21) and Malcolm chose the salad Nicoise ($22), because a similar dish was a favorite of his at the related 555.
I started with a green salad ($5), enlivened with herbs and a lemony dressing, and delighted in its pared-down perfection, while Malcolm won the round with the soup of the day (MP), which was corn. Imagine eating sweet ripe corn, in a field under a warm sun, now add a burst of butter, sweet cream butter, and meld into all with your eyes closed the sensuous elements of your mind. To spoon this corn soup is to meet one’s God. No exaggeration.
Our dinners, they were very fine. Extremely well-crafted, best examples of basic fare. Each cube of tuna was seared immaculately; our only desire was that they were a little more integrated into the the salad, composed of olives, egg, potatoes, string beans and the rest. My medium-rare steak was dead on, seared well and melt-in-the-mouth. Oh, but then. That best portion of a good woman’s meal. Frites so lithe and narrow to call them shoestring would be an insult, crisped, crackling, and lightly drizzled with aioli.
We could not bear to have dessert. Once again thwarted by our earlier hunger and greedy eyes. Next time, the creme caramel. Yes, there will be a next time. The price is right for any evening a night out, its place in the neighborhood more than secured. Petite Jacqueline is bright and bustling, where you want to meet everyone you like to share a few bottles of wine and long conversations about nihilism.
Update! Petit Jacqueline has permanently closed its doors.