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L'Petit Laurent, Glen Park - total dissapointment

So maybe my expectations were high, cause lots of people in my neighborhood have been raving about this place, but i have to say, my experience was pretty terrible across the board.

My husband and i decided to go there for our valentines meal (which we always celebrate the day after, cause valentine's is just silly madness for restaurants)

Anyway, we arrived at 7:28 for our 7:30 reservation and we were promptly seated.
The waiter came over and took our order:
onion soup
frisee salad with lardon's and poached egg
roasted monkfish with sauteed green cabbage and a truffle oil sauce
steak frites (ordered between medium and medium rare)
and one bottle of gigondas syrah

the wine came. it was awesome.
the appetizers came
the onion soup was very good, executed like a traditional french onion soup with nice cheese, good beef stock, tons of onions....
the frisee salad looked fantastic, but the first bite went down like a sour acid and stayed that way the whole rest of the way through. The salad was so overloaded with vinegar that any and all flavor or texture that the poached egg or lardons would have added to the salad was just gone. It was awful, but i shrugged it aside and left half the salad on my plate and eagerly awaited the entrees.

and so they came:
the roasted monkfish was put down in front of me and i almost cried. it was 3 chunks of monkfish totally covered in breading and sitting in a bowl of brown gravy with a lump of overcooked cabbage mounded up in the middle of the plate. My husbands steak looked much better (even though it was also covered in the same brown gravy, but more sparingly than the fish) and the fries were cooked nicely, not to greasy. We started to dig in, i ignoring the fact that my food looked and smelled like a cafeteria lunch. i tasted the monkfish. it was cooked perfectly, except the breading tasted pretty much raw and the thick gooey brown gravy just overwhelmed everything on the plate. i scraped off as much gravy and breading as i could and looked up to notice that my husband was scowling at his plate as he tried in vain to cut through his steak. "this steak is all fat!" he said when he finally got a peice cut off and began chewing and chewing and chewing, and then spit it out in his napkin. I pulled the plate towards me to inspect it closer, and replied "it's not fat, it's totally raw."
we both put our knives and forks down and waited for the server. when we finally managed to catch his eye, and expalin to him the rareness of the steak he whisked it away with many apologies and said he would have the kitchen finish cooking it.
and so we waited. i sat with my barely touched fish in front of me congealing in the brown gravy while we waited for the steak to come back.
so we drank more of our fabulous wine and then the steak returned with more fresh fries and cooked to the correct doneness.
i left my fish on the plate and proceeded to just eat some french fries.
the steak dinner was finished and since i was still starving we moved on to dessert.

The dessert was most definitely the highlight of the meal! we ordered the creme caramel and it was PERFECT. warm all the way through with a perfect burnt sugar crust. we were still scraping up the burnt bits on teh side when the waiter appeared and said "well, you certianly enjoyed that!" and i agreed whole heartedly.

the waiter was very nice. i know it was not supposed to be fine upscale dining, but still, there are a few things that would have been nice during the evening, mainly taking my fish away to keep it warm while the steak finished cooking.

we still tipped the waiter 20 % and deemed the wine and the dessert the saving graces of the meal. total with tip and tax: 160.00

unfortuantely, with limited funds, and no access to familial baby sitters, we won't be back.

i wish i could report otherwise. Chenery Park is still our favorite local restaurant in that hood.

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  1. I can understand why you wouldn't be back, but in case you change your mind or for the sake of others who might read this review and get the impression it is an expensive restaurant: $160 is way more than I have spent when I have dined there (even ordering wine). They have a three course pre-fixe for $19.95 available every week night until seven: it is a true deal for someone with limited funds, IMO.

    -----
    Le P'tit Laurent
    699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      actually, the prix fixe looked great, but unfortunately, it was a friday night, and 7:30 and for some reason, the prix fixe wasn't available, either due to the weekend night, or the time, i can't remember.
      And to be fair, the wine was 45.00 dollars. but it was a GREAT wine.
      totally worth it, and trust me, if we hadn't had that great bottle, that meal would have been disastrous! as it was, we were happy and entertained by our fine buzz.

    2. Like susancinsf, I get the disappointment; though I don't understand your description of it as "pretty terrible across the board." You had fabulous wine, good soup, a corrected but (seemingly) tasty steak and a perfect dessert. In addition you had a server who was nice enough and helpful enough to warrant leaving 20%.....sounds like all of that is pretty good. The salad and fish not being to your liking (and the fish doesn't sound good, period) is not good and it would have been good had the server inquired about the fish since you left so much of it on the plate (and I agree it'd have also been good for the server to try to help arrange it all so you two could have warm entrees at the same time). The server letting the salad go by without inquiring doesn't strike me as odd since many people leave salad partly or largely uneaten to save room for later courses.

      I've only been for Brunch to L'Ptit Laurent but I had a good experience. Your report seems really reasonable in its details given my experience at the place, though. It doesn't sound terrible across the board, though.

      1. If the menu description is still "roasted monkfish, sauteed green cabbage and bacon, truffle oil sauce," heavy breading would be unexpected and reason enough to send it back. As would overcooked cabbage.

        "Rare" is problematic at a French restaurant. Sometimes they take that to mean seared on the outside and raw in the middle.

        -----
        Le P'tit Laurent
        699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

        4 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I second your comment. French people typically eat meat much less cooked than Americans, hence possible problems when it comes to specifying how cooked you want it.

          1. re: edanna

            Just to be clear, i pan sear steaks often in my home and we serve them shockingly close to what most people would consider between medium rare and rare. still, they are cooked through enough that the protiens are not still stringy and chewy.
            I have never been to France though. maybe it was the cut of steak, it certainly didn't look like new york strip, nor did it resemble a bavette cut, which seems the usual option of steak in most bistro's. who knows. But when i say "that steak is raw" believe me, it was raw.
            it was not even seared on both sides.
            it was like they forgot to cook it, and so they just covered it with some sauce.
            and while the soup and the desert were good, i still consider the dinner unsalvageable cause a.) i picked the wine and b.) if less than half of the ordered items are considered unedible at any given point throughout the meal, well then, that isn't a very good track record in my book.

            Honestly, the service wasn't outstanding, but they weren't mean, and therefore (having been in the service industry for many years) i will always tip 20% if you are nice to me, even if you aren't very good at your job.
            it's a hard job.

            anyway. thanks for all the responses.
            take care all,
            J

            1. re: jupiter

              Although I haven't been to the restaurant I much appreciated your review. Just because you chose a good bottle of wine (you never said they recommended it even before you pointed that out) doesn't mean the restaurant gets a lot of credit (IMHO).

              I probably would have been a little more proactive in giving feedback to the kitchen - about the salad and esp the monkfish but (except for not noticing you wanted to eat together) I don't see any point in penalizing the server for the kitchen's errors (again even before you said why you tipped that much).

              Just wanted to add my 2c since I felt some of the responses were a bit harsh. I would have been totally disappointed too.....

              1. re: estnet

                I would like to clarify that while I enjoyed my two or so meals there, I wouldn't say that I would call my reaction in any way 'glowing'., and don't think I was any way being harsh in my reaction to OPs post. Moreover, the restaurant is much too noisy and crowded to be on my regular rotation. Nor do I think that OP was wrong to be disappointed under the circumstances. The only point of my post was to say that $160 is a way above average bill there, IMO, and that the place can be an extremely good value if one goes for the pre fixe. (and when I did, my dishes were well prepared. No raw steak or misadvertised fish). Indeed, had OP only spent about $70 instead of $160, (which is about what I spent on my last visit) she might have been considerably less disappointed.

                Again, the prefixe is available weeknights until 7 p.m. Which is why OP couldn't get it at 7:30 p.m. I strongly recommend reservations if one wants the prefixe. It is making the place quite popular after work (its location across the street from Glen Park BART doesn't hurt either probably).

        2. Pretty terrible across the board would sum up the meal I had there as well.
          Your report strikes me as far more accurate to what I experienced there then any of the glowing reviews.

          1. Before coming to SF, I lived in France for a number of years, so I speak with some knowledge. I've dined at Petit Laurent numerous times, and think it's one of the best and authentic bistros anywhere in the Bay area. Please go back and try it again. If you get there before 7:30 pm, try their prix fix. It's a bargain and one of the reason people keep coming back again and again

            3 Replies
            1. re: Labo16

              the review on the website on here at SF Bay Guardian says the $19.95 fix pre is only Mon thru Thursday. and these review make me not want to go to dinner there this evening, Nov. 15

              1. re: deedd

                to clarify, since I did an extensive search on Bay Guardian looking for a non-existent review before re-reading this post, the reviews you are referring to are these posts, *not* anything in the Bay Guardian, which hasn't yet reviewed it as far as I can tell. Yes, pre-fixe is only weeknights, before 7 p.m.

                I haven't been back since I posted above; it is still always packed to the gills when I walk by. Any recent reports?

                Here is one from shortly after opening, that I don't think is linked below:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/417947

                1. re: susancinsf

                  just realized that they now have a website:

                  http://www.leptitlaurent.com/index.html

                  per the website, the prix fixe menu is actually Sunday through Thursday...

                  Edited to add:

                  oh, and I take back part of my post above, the website does have a link to an SFBG review from December 2007; don't know why I couldn't find that searching the SFBG site myself.

                  http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_i...

                  Has anyone tried that cassoulet recently?