The clients who dine at Le Petit Pigalle, an intimate, French restaurant in the Mariscal District of Quito, generally know what to expect from owners Johan Ducroquet and Cristina Carranco. Over the past two years they have worked to build their own distinctive, French cuisine.
But starting this month, they are offering something new or rather traditional. Every Sunday Le Petit Pigalle invites diners to re-discover classical, French cuisine.
Johan and Cristina are both classically, trained chefs. Johan is from France and he began as a teenager learning to cook in top Michelin-rated restaurants. Carranco, from Quito, also worked and studied under some of France's best chefs.
Their combined experience has brought them recognition not only from clients, but from their fellow chefs in Quito. Earlier this year Le Petit Pigalle took home the golden rose award from the "Cena de la Rosa" competition, a fundraiser that brought together Quito's top restaurants.
DISCOVER SOMETHING NEW
Monday through Saturday Le Petit Pigalle continues to offer its own brand of French cooking.
Ducroquet has always said, "My recipes are not from books, they are mine." He refers to things like "mollejas de cordero" (lamb gizzards) flambéed in cognac with salted endives, ham and emmental cheese; or pork loin in a reduction of Malbec with salted potatoes cooked in goose or duck fat.
Ducroquet also brilliantly combines Ecuadorian coastal products with French techniques to create dishes like red tuna with "foie gras poele" in a raspberry vinegar, sea bass filet with a sweet potato puree and parmesan gnocchi, or cured prawns and ham in a leek fondue.
So six days of the week these are the kinds of discoveries you will make in Ducroquet's kitchen. But Sunday is something different.
A NEW CLASSICAL MENU
"Sunday is a day for families. We are going to strip things down, take away the table clothes and make it more casual." And their cuisine will reflect this more relaxed approach.
Why the change on Sunday? Besides the fact that he and Cristina are starting a family of their own, Ducroquet says, "There is a lot of demand [for classical dishes], so if a lot of people are asking for onion soup, we have to make it. He also says it is a way to "lower the cost a little," and make it more affordable, but with the same care and quality as their other dishes.
The menu for Sunday remains simple: five appetizers, five desserts, and seven main dishes.
For starters, onion soup is recommened and always garners the highest demand. But if you are not in the mood for soup, consider the chicken ceasar salad, "Rafines" cheese plate with five different goat cheeses, made locally, or the "Rillete" de Cerdo an amazing pork spread served with dried bread or crackers. And for someone with a slightly non-French appetite, fried squid is available.
The main menu features two very classical dishes: steak tartar - finely minced raw beef topped with a raw egg - and "confit" duck a duck leg that is first salt-cured and then poached in its own fat. It is served with slices of apple and potato also cooked in duck fat. Ducroquet says by far these are the two most requested, classical, dishes. Both are served with French fries.
Because Sunday is family day, children are welcome. But you will not find a kids' menu at Le Petit Pigalle no burgers, no nuggets. Ducroquet says, "In France we have the culture to eat well from childhood. When I was born my mom said we have to try everything. You have to give kids something good. We will make smaller portions, but nothing more. Kids eat the same things." And kids usually have no problems eating tenderloin with fries or chicken with tomato risotto - kid-friendly entrees that are currently on the Sunday menu.
Two more Sunday options include crab meat served "a la vasca" - a Spanish culinary twist with pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, and sausage - and a fish of the day served with organic vegetables.
Finally, for dessert, you can order a traditional crepe or caramelized brioche. They also offer tiramisu, cheesecake, and an excellent chocolate mousse with strawberries. The dessert menu is as simple and appealing as the ambiance, and now a bit more traditional for those with a taste for the classical.
Le Petit Pigalle is located at the corner of Carrion and 9 de Octubre. They are open Sundays from 10:30 am 4:00 pm. Appetizers average $7.50, main entrees $18, and $4 for dessert, taxes and service included.
Monday-Saturday Hours are 12-3pm and 7-10pm pm. During the week starters average $13 while main dishes, range from $21-48. For reservations or more information about their current menu call 252-0867 or visit the website www.lepetitepigallerestaurant.com.