CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Le Petit Gris, French Bistro, Gemmayze
Le Petit Gris: A Rich Selection of Fine Dining Creations
Le Petit Gris: Known for its Joyful Ambiance and Good Food
When I noticed that I last came here in 2015, it was time to visit again one of my favorite French Bistros in town. Guaranteed satisfaction for as long as I remember, Le Petit Gris is one of the few restaurants that has been open in Beirut for seven years already and still serving a satisfactory experience to its guests. Le Petit Gris handled by Makram Rabbat is one restaurant you have to visit if you didn’t already.
Le Petit Gris' entrance, located on Sacre-Coeur Gemmayze, cannot be missed. You can access it from the small street on the right after passing Paul on the way down from Tabaris, or take the last street on the left coming from Rue Pasteur. A three-door shop behind a large glass facade with a very high ceiling, white walls and many bottles decorating the right side. A place filled with square tables and a bar like real French bistros. The ambiance is what makes it special, people talking, laughing and enjoying every minute spent in here.
A calm and dimmed ambiance with no music playing in the background, Le Petit Gris is a French bistro more defined as “Bistro de Quartier” where an accustomed clientele comes here for the guarantee of great food. A homey ambiance, professional waiters, a wide choice of items of which half on the board and half on the menu.
My order: The word “poutargue” caught my attention, bottarga better known as “Batrakh” which is a personal favorite. A pizza and capellini, I will be ordering at least one of the two. Other than that, the menu offers a choice of pasta, pizzas, French starters, meats, fish and mussels.
Dinner starts with a plate of black olives and balls of butter presented with a basket of bread. Hard-bodied chewy bread a-la-Francaise; feels like Paul’s bread.
The details I like:
- Glass water bottles are used at Le Petit Gris.
- There is no music to annoy.
- Lights are dimmed, but the flair coming from the street adds a touch of yellow to the general ambiance.
- Le Petit Gris has gotten bigger because a room has been added to the restaurant.
- One big mirror makes the place look twice its size.
Be prepared for amazement; food is great!
- Best of all appetizers: I’ve never had calamari that is not chewy until tonight. Fluffy and light-bodied calamari, battered and fried. A thin crispy robe, a tender heart and a side of sweet sauce. Not an average plate but more of a simple creation turned gourmet.
- Thin like paper and crunchy like a biscuit, the bottarga pizza makes one smile. Shredded bottarga embraced by two kinds of cheeses and toasted to crunch, covered with Sundried tomatoes and fresh thyme. A great combination I never imagined would work — two thumbs up chef.
- Turning carrots into a gourmet salad!? That’s new. Yes, carrots, shredded and marinated, they make a tasty salad.
- Samak Bizri, simple and good, better than many seafood restaurants around town. The greatness of Le Petit Gris’ plates is the freshness of ingredients. Enjoy the fries.
- One salad made it to the table, salmon sashimi and a bunch of several greens marinated to melt under the teeth.
Now the main plates, I ordered a pasta and my wife the burger.
- Capellini bottarga: even though I would have preferred them to be made with spaghetti, the bottarga chunks give the needed flavor to the noodles-like pasta. There is a crunch what I didn’t understand, probably the onions. The overall plate taste is too salty. I’m sorry to say it bluntly, the plate felt like Asian Pancit noodles and not like spaghetti.
- The burger bun is too chewy (again from Paul), the patty is too thick, overcooked, condensed and chewy, for a gourmet burger. I expected the meat to be lighter, less cooked, less chewy and without fatty bits sliding under the teeth. The fries on another hand are so good that I finished my plate; thin fries a-la-Francaise, perfectly salted and enjoyably crunchy.
Best for last; the desserts.
- Grilled banana: A full banana cut in half and cooked to perfection, filled with crunchy almonds and a scoop of ice cream. Super crunchy roasted hazelnuts with a scoop of ice cream from Oslo and melting, hot caramelized banana bathed in balsamic vinegar. That's good, that's very good indeed, a signature dessert worth a trophy.
- Pain perdu, a thick slice of bread, stacked in milk and butter and decorated with crunchy hazelnuts. I loved its subtle sweetness and enjoyable gooey texture.
- The meringue pavlova served cylindrically made my night. Freshly smelling crunchy meringue, ice cream, cream, red fruits, and strawberry coulis. A great way to end my meal.
Delicious starters, amazing desserts, and a pleasant ambiance; with a service as professional as the one at Le Petit Gris, I love coming back here again and again.