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Calgary - Petite: A little too warm, but great food

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I returned to Petite for the first time in a few months, had an excellent meal. I noticed some recent reviews on other sites complaining about the air circulation, this must be a recent problem, as I did not notice it on earlier visits, but it was definitely over warm in the room. Other than that: everything went fine; the service was friendly, they seated me without a reservation (I took a risk and knew it, this is such a small place and usually busy, I was lucky to get in without checking in advance), and my waitress was helpful and creative in coming up with wine pairings. The charcuterie board was excellent (and paired with 2 half-glasses of wine, one red and one white, which was especially fun), and so was the halibut.

Hopefully they will be able to fix the heating problem - I didn't get around to asking them what was going on. This is still one of my favourite restaurants in the city, the food is consistently great and like the small and intimate feel. I have yet to be disappointed at Petite.

Petite Restaurant
344 17th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T3C, CA

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  1. the heat isn't a recent problem - it gets much worse in the summer (shoot for a patio table) - i think it's just the result of a small space in an old brick building with an open kitchen...i hope they can fix it too - love it there!

    1. It was quite smokey when I was there - ventilation wasn't very good.

      1. I was also there last week for dinner and ate the same things as you, alley - great minds... :)

        One of the servers took a seat at the table next to us as we were waiting for our desserts. He explained the heat and smoke issue was due to it being a heritage building (is it?) and they weren't able/allowed to "punch a hole in the brick for extra ventilation". There were a few times throughout the evening where it got a little smokey and hot, but it was easily remedied by someone opening the door. I'm very willing to overlook things like this, but I know others on this board aren't and that could be quite a problem for Petite. Surely there's something that can be done...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chow_Down

          It would appear that Petite is part of the A.B. Cushing Mills building: http://www.calgaryheritage.org/phpbb/...

          1. re: aktivistin

            Just had dinner tonight! What a treat! Cheese plate was fantastic with all little touches (better than FARM), silky smooth sea bass and delicious (and not too sweet) toffee bread pudding. The wine sommelier recommended the perfect wines... I can't remember having a better night out. Definitely a treat and a must visit.

            1. re: clouie

              Agreed. The food here is really made well and you can taste the quality in the ingredients. They also have Dinner events every few weeks (usually on Sundays) which are a treat to attend. These dinners have a food/wine theme, last time it was Champagne and Truffles....mmm mmm mmm!

              1. re: clouie

                Shhh! One of my favourite places. I also enjoyed the toffee bread pudding - check out pics here: http://www.foodspotting.com/explore#/..., AB/desc/petite/sort/latest/

                Also have been there for the Sunday set menus which is really good as well.

                1. re: ybnormal

                  Great site! Thanks for the link.

                  I'm going to make reservations for the Sunday set menu. I can't wait for my next visit...

                  Another note - I really enjoyed the concept of fine food in an unpretentious environment.

          2. Bad news ... and good news
            Fire at Petite Monday afternoon
            ... it may move up their renovation plans and their space will triple.

            7 Replies
            1. re: cancowboy

              But it won't be petite! :-)

              Amazing how some tragedies uncover blessings like this- great silver lining.

              1. re: John Manzo

                I drove by il Giardino's and saw a sign that it was going to be Petite. Hard to believe, but true. http://www.petiterestaurant.ca/
                I loved the place but I sure hope it doesn't go the way of Entre Nous - great place when they were in the Antonio's Garlic Clove location but then they moved to the (much bigger) Combo House location and went bust. Which has since been Oceana's, BLVD and now Tilted Grill. Il Giardino was over 100 seats, it definitely won't be "petite" anymore.

                1. re: hsk

                  It's also a bit of a shame. The old location was beautiful.

                  1. re: Leibowitz

                    I'm definitely routing for the new Petit location. Hopefully they're able to fully transform the Il Giardino space.....I was never terribly impressed by the dark, bottom-floor-of-an-office-building feel it had.

                    Anyone have an idea how long it might be until they open the new place?

                    1. re: johnjohnson78

                      I heard on their website that they plan to reopen in October. Check out their facebook page and "like" it, and you are entered to win free tickets for the opening night. I can't wait to go again - I love everything about that restaurant.

                  2. re: hsk

                    I enjoyed Petite, and I'm glad they're reopening soon. But I'm disappointed with the choice of a new location. What I liked about Petite, besides the execution in the kitchen, was the intimacy. You could see and hear and feel everything happen. It was often crowded and it must have been a pain to work in, but it was a great atmosphere. I haven't seen the results of the Il Giardino makeover yet, but I don't see how they can come close to recreating anything with a similar feel in that space. I am sure it will be a good restaurant. I am not sure that it will be special anymore. I guess we only have a few more weeks to wait and see. At least with all of that space they should be able to handle the overflow from Model Milk at the other end of the block - whenever it finally opens.

              2. A little birdie told me that the new Petite will be opening tonight.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cancowboy

                  Oops soft opening for friends & critics.
                  Public opening on Monday (according to the Herald).

                  1. re: cancowboy

                    I took a client to Petite for lunch today and I was blown away by how bad my meal was. I had heard great things about this place back when it was in its original location on 10th Ave. When I arrived the host pretty much let me pick where to sit telling me the main dining area was a little crowded. She steered me into the lounge part of the room where the bar and the open kitchen reside. My first impression was they need a better ventilation system. The odor of food and grease was pretty strong and I knew I would be needing a Febreeze shower when I was done with lunch. Anyways, our server dropped off menus and left without asking us what we liked to drink. I was cool with water but I found it odd they at least didn't bring by a wine menu or anything like that. As for the food I decided to try their burger. It was priced at $16 and was looking forward to it. I always view the sucess of a restaurant is based on how well they cook a burger. Sadly it was one of the worst burgers I have ever had. I was stunned at how bad it was. The beef patty itself fell apart and crumbled all over my plate. The bun was so heavily buttered then grilled on the flattop that it was pretty much inedible. The bacon was undercooked and rubbery. The fries that came as a side were limp and really greasy. Just a really, really underwealming burger, especially at that price. The only bright spot of my meal was the side salad. Mixed greens with green beans. A nice change of pace from the usual bland side salads offered. Our server was nice but I found it odd that we were sitting at a four top and half way through the meal she took away the wine glasses, plates and cutlery of the two spots we were not using. Just found the timing a little weird.
                    Anyways, I am not one to complain about the service or food while I am there. No need to make my client feel uncomfortable. If I had a real problem with my dinning experience I would have notified a manager or someone but since there is so much competition out there I will choose to try something different as opposed to hoping Petite works out the kinks they are obviously experiencing.

                2. I was taken to Petite by a good friend last week. I'll preface this post by mentioning that I loved the original location....

                  Initial impression: Bleh. Feels like a restaurant in the bottom of an old office building because that's essentially what it is. The decor borders on flat out tacky and there's no real character to speak of.

                  Service: nice guy....took at least 10 minutes of us sitting around before we grabbed someone and asked if we could order some wine. After that the service was fine.

                  Food: The gravlax dish was very average.....sliced way to thick and very bland. They didn't bother to trim the unappealing brown part of the salmon before plating.

                  Roasted beat salad.....fine I suppose. Quite uninspired and was served with some very bland goat cheese. I didn't even know that was possible?

                  Charcuterie board: This was actually quite good. A selection of cured meats with pickled veg and some mustard. The sopressata was great as were the pickled yellow beets and cippolini onions. The portions were very generous. Not sure how much or how little of this plate is actually made in house.

                  Beef tenderloin with fois gras/port demiglace: This was surprisingly good and was the only dish that reminded me of the original Petite. Initially they brought me out a tuna tataki entree and I told them that I honestly didn't need the steak if it wasn't already being cooked and that we'd be happy to settle up. They insisted I stick around for it and I'm glad I did. Perfectly cooked sous-vide and then seared. Served with a potato rosti and spring vegetables. The sauce was actually top notch. It definitely elevated the tenderloin which I generally consider to be a cut that lacks in flavour and overall beefiness.

                  Overall I found the menu to be fairly plain jane and bordering on pedestrian. A far cry from the fairly innovative and exciting dishes that could be found at the original restaurant. I guess that's what happens when you have 150 seats instead of 30. I honestly wish them the best but it's just not a space that I care to spend a lot of money or time in. On the plus side, it was "wine wednesday" and the bottles were very reasonably priced.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: johnjohnson78

                    One more thing I forgot to mention on my last post. When we were having dinner at petite we hapenned to notice that some friends who had just gotten engaged were also dining with their parents. We thought it would be nice to send them a bottle of champagne. We had the waiter bring them over a bottle and, strangely, we never received a thank you or any acknowledgement for the gesture. After running into this friend at a stampede party, it turns out the waiter didn't even bother to say who it was from and (I'm assuming) took credit for the gift on behalf of the restaurant!?!? WOW. That is beyond sleazy. I will not ever spend another dime at Petite. Period.

                    1. re: johnjohnson78

                      seriously!?!? That is beyond rude.

                      1. re: TSAW

                        Seriously! Even if it did just slip his mind somehow, it's totally unacceptable.

                        A shame because I'd really like to support the chef from the original Petite.

                        1. re: johnjohnson78

                          Well it is certainly not the chef's fault. I would call and talk to the manager about this. But in the end they will probably offer you a free meal or gift cert, and you didn't really love it and don't want to go back..so that may be pointless. There are just so many new restos in town and so little time and money. I just would probably move on too.

                          1. re: TSAW

                            Oh I agree, it's definitely not the chefs fault. I just meant that I'd like to support him because I know he's a talented guy....unfortunately the ambience and menu don't do much for me. If I'm not mistaken there are a few partners and I have to assume they all have their own influence on the way things are run, for better or for worse.

                  2. Just heard that Petite is now closed...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cellophane_star

                      I believe that the closure is temporary while they rework the menu and concept.

                      1. re: tex_in_yyc

                        I heard about it via Calgary Foodies:

                        "... unfortunately in a waive of unlucky circumstances, including losing the man behind the food to a educational pursuits, they have now closed. We hear there may be a reconcept in the future, but unfortunately what was great at old petite got lost in the bigger better badder petite that was never meant to be."

                        Sounds vague on whether they will reopen. I visited the new location and really enjoyed my food but the service was so slow and disorganized... I feel bad for them, having invested in such a large space.