Petite France is the prize-winning French bakery and café that opened on Kungsholmen in 2008 and immediately charmed everyone with its delicious sourdough breads, pains au chocolat and the classic slow-roasted duck, a perennial favourite on the lunch menu.
At the beginning of November the café began opening in the evening as a restaurant, with more or less the same mission – to bring Stockholmers a little piece of France and its classic food culture.
The tiny evening dining room only has 20 seats, which definitely makes eating here a more pleasant experience; during lunch, the same room fits 35 people and often gets hopelessly crowded. Most of the menu changes from one evening to another and the dishes are written on blackboards, which the waiter places on one of the Thonet chairs for us to study. It’s very French and authentic, as is almost everything else here, including the nationality of most of the staff.
We choose to start with the duck liver terrine on brioche (125 kronor), which seems to have become a standard dish on the menu. The terrine comes wrapped in Bayonne ham, with figs and port wine reduction on the side, and tastes absolutely delicious.
The main courses continue in the same reliable vein. The grilled Black Angus beef with potatoes, haricots verts, red wine sauce and salt-baked shallot onions (205 kronor) is everything a carnivore could hope for: big, rich and tender. It too has become a regular feature on the blackboard, and seems to be one of the guests’ favourites.
Our other main, crispy pork with potato purée and root vegetables, gets good marks as well. The menu doesn’t offer many surprises but on the other hand, that’s not what people come here for. Most of the guests are here for well-made French classics, and that’s precisely what they get.
When it’s time to choose the desserts, we want to go for the cheese plate with fig jam and some of the bakery’s famous bread, but our bellies protest and call for something smaller. So we order tarte tatin – a French apple cake served with caramel ice cream and almond cookies (80 kronor) and baba au rhum (70 kronor), a piece of cake saturated with rum and topped with fruit and whipped cream.
The tarte tatin is composed on a cookie base that is a bit too hard for our taste, but the baba is entirely lovely – and very filling.
What’s also worth mentioning are the wines. We drink a lovely Côtes du Rhône for 300 kronor, and the list offers bottles starting from 250, which is not too common in Stockholm, where even a simple bottle of wine often costs 500 kronor or more.
On dark, cold evenings, the streets of lower Kungsholmen tend to feel a bit lonely and deserted, but opening the wooden door to Petite France’s intimate bistro is a welcome tonic for those moments of winter blues. We hope it’s here to stay.