Le Petit Bocal
A hidden french gem and serious contender as one of the best french cafes in town.
We got lost. Le Petit Bocal ('The Little Jar') is a secret Sandringham doesn't give up lightly. After fumbling around in a suburb better known for its exotic takeaways, fish and chip shops and diaries, we finally walked in, and were met with a french cafe full of freshness.
Usually, French Cafes have a type of prescriptive dogma in relation to decor and atmosphere. It's always the same deal - too many miniature eiffel towers, red and white checkered tablecloths and good looking waiters with moustaches floating around to make sure that enough cliches are happening at the same time so that no customer could ever doubt that they are indeed in a French Cafe. Le Petit Bocal encapsulates a different, more authentic kind of spirit.
You won't see anything too French about this place, only the subtle accents like the pretty stylistic black and white Parisian photographs and our fresh-off-the-boat chirpy french waiter who's only been living in New Zealand for the last two weeks. Other than that, the decor is part of the fresh industrial genre, something you'd see in modern day France, with little jam jar containers used as lights (a nod to the cafe's name), clean basic wooden tables and a lot of open white space. It's nice.
The real attraction to this place is of course the food. This is a terrain that most french cafes rock at. Who knows how the people from that little hexagon-shaped country managed it, but in almost any french cafe in the world, you're guaranteed to have amazingly succulant bread with quality ingredients cooked to perfection. Le Petit Bocal is no exception.
I had the Breakfast Bruschetta ($18) which came with diced tomato, avocado, red onion and basil, poached eggs and citrus hollandaise, served with toasted sourdough and homemade tomato relish. It was divine. The poached egg was perfect, the vegetables fresh, and all the flavours blended harmoniously. It's also nice to know that the eggs and bacon are free range, and that the restaurant uses natural, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. The coffee didn't disappoint either. No burnt aftertaste, no under-frothiness, just beautiful.
This cafe is a hidden gem and a high contender as one of my favourite cafe discoveries of the year.