With its off Bond Street location, a sister restaurant in celeb-central Nice and an uncompromising approach to Mediterranean cuisine, La Petite Maison is proving a hit with moneyed locals.
Arjun Waney, of London’s Zuma and Roka restaurants, has taken over this instantly appealing corner site on Brooks Mews, a tourist-free haven of prime Mayfair real estate. Plenty of high windows ensure the largely white and cream room is bathed in natural light during the day whilst retaining a generous sense of space at night.
High ceilings and hard flooring are a double-edged sword acoustically, making the ambiance buzzy or rather noisy, depending on your stance. The open plan, glass-fronted kitchen in full view of the 80-odd diners adds an unexpected focal point with guests even encouraged to wander over for a closer look in between courses. Most of the well-dressed businessmen and their glamorous female companions seem too engrossed in conversation to take the offer up, however. Diners at tables lining the outer edges either have red banquettes facing outwards towards the main room, or nothing but frosted glass panels to look at during a meal, which can be rather dispiriting after a while.
Head Chef Raphael Duntoye has a fine grasp of the Nicoise cooking style expected of him after migrating across from the Japanese Zuma. What is less clear however is the menu concept and the nebulous phrase, food is served to help yourself, on every page. Is this one of London’s increasingly trendy sharing menus? The £25.00 and up main course prices would certainly suggest so. In reality, however, they are ample dishes for one at best, brought to table as soon as the kitchen finishes them and in a serving dish rather than on a plate.
Beyond this, there is some wonderfully fresh and flavoursome food to be enjoyed here. A simple starter combo of de-skinned broad beans and flaked pecorino worked well, while a main of turbot with artichokes in white wine reduction was moreishly creamy, suggesting no corners were cut in its preparation.
A wide range of predominantly French wines is available, with a healthy number both by the glass and under £30.00 a bottle. Corporate account holders will no doubt approve of the premium selection that edges up towards the four figure mark too.
The Last Word
Not a cheap eat by any means, but La Petite Maison makes no bones about its target market and, crucially, delivers on both quality of ingredients and service, two factors that helped make its Nicoise predecessor such a long-running success.