(Photo courtesy of http://portlandbreakfast.blogspot.com/2008/11/petite-provence-boulangerie-patisserie.html)
On my exchange trip to France this summer, I enjoyed the little cafés that lined the streets, where people lounged around with cups of espresso and pastries. Petite Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie immediately transported me back to the beautiful country.
Located on SE Division Street, the place indeed emulated the typical French café, complete with the fashionable wicker chairs, dainty tables, and the rustic, charming architecture. (There are also three other locations in Lake Oswego, Alberta Street, and the Dalles.)
The restaurant’s bakery definitely attracted a lot of attention with its bright glass displays with rows upon rows of gorgeous cakes. Various kinds of breads and pastries overflowed in baskets. Customers waiting for seats or milling around snacked on generous samples of chocolate croissants and Neapolitan mousse cake.
Forget the dull Costco croissants stuffed in cardboard boxes and plastic wrap. Petite Provence serves the most delicious croissants I have ever tasted—so light, flaky, and bursting with a rich buttery flavor. The pastry basically melts in your mouth.
In general, the restaurant menu offered a lot of popular French food, including the croque-monsieur (a classy relative of the ham and cheese sandwich) and crêpes while also providing many other “American” choices (omelettes, sandwiches, etc.) with a fancy French twist to them.
I ordered the waitress’s recommendation, a limited special called the chipotle salmon with scalloped potatoes. The dish itself lived up to its enticing description. A large stack of scalloped potatoes with layers of cheese was topped off by juicy hashed salmon and covered by a huge dollop of a creamy chipotle sauce.
Salmon can be difficult to cook to perfection, but Petite Provence’s fish had a nice smoky flavor and a soft, tender texture. The sauce seemed a little too rich and thick, but it did not taste overwhelmingly spicy. A fruit salad and croissant were also included on the side, so my palette was fully satisfied.
But why not make room for dessert? I kept gazing moony-eyed at all the cakes, and I couldn’t help myself. So I bought a box of them and indulged myself in flavors ranging from smooth chocolate espresso to coconut cream.
Petite Provence definitely represents an exemplary ambassador of the French culinary arts. I don’t know about you, but I’d do anything for a chocolate croissant.
Price range: 3-13 dollars
16350 Boones Ferry Rd. Lake Oswego, OR 97035
4834 SE Division St. Portland, OR 97206
1824 NE Alberta St. Portland, OR 97211