Parisian Perfection

I came across this little French/Parisian-style bistro place quite inadvertently when traipsing the back alleys of Nottingham city centre in search of a quiet and unpretentious eatery — primarily to avoid the soul-destroying and inevitable mediocrity of one of these faceless corporate chains (although it’s quite rare to find the former in central Nottingham these days). It was lunchtime, and right at the point when I’d decided to give up searching for that elusive independent eatery for fear of stomach self-digestion (brought on by a severe hunger and made worse by my consuming three cappuccinos that morning), I stumbled quite fortuitously upon Petit Paris on Kings Walk.

Catering to a large extent for the pre-theatre meal-going crowd, Petit Paris emphasizes its very reasonably priced lunch menu, which features three courses of simple and robust French bistro cooking: Soupe du jour, saumon en croûte, moules-frites and fillet steak served with that ubiquitous side of fries. These are the sort of French classics we Brits may love to tuck into on our yearly booze cruises to Boulogne, but aren’t that readily available in many other restaurants back home. Of course, there’s that dire and depressing pseudo-Gallic chain known as Cafe Rouge that I won’t even bother to deplore for fear of corporate reprisals, as well as those depressingly anglicized permutations of French classics you might see on gastro-pub menus for over-inflated prices (see coq au vin, duck a l’orange etc), but it’s generally accepted that you can’t get decent French food unless you drag yourself across the channel. However, Petit Paris delivers authentic French fair to the East Midlands, and creates a microcosmic space within the confines of a cramped ex-apartment building in Nottingham, where one can feel utterly immersed in a quintessentially Parisian dining scene.

Indeed, from the moment you step into its dining room you can sense Paris; the whole place exudes French: from the impeccably attired waiter in a white starched-ironed shirt and shiny polished black leather shoes, to the shabby chic faux-antique wooden furniture and the wafting smell of mussels soaked in delicious white wine just emanating from the kitchen. As I thought, the food was great; I opted for mussels (I just couldn’t resist), a filet mignon, and a delectably light tarte tatin to finish. The whole thing tasted like it had been cooked by French chefs who really knew what they were doing — no unnecessary garnishes, no frills and no gimmicks. Just hearty and robust food cooked with an appreciation of the simple but wonderful ingredients used.

Could I fault it? No, because it does everything a modest Parisian bistro ought to with consummate flair and skill to boot. I just hope that this place stays afloat during the recession and that people continue to dine here because it’s a much-needed slice of French passion and refinement in a pool of manufactured, profit-driven ordinariness.

Thomas Clements


Leave a Reply