THERE’S NOTHING LIKE a rapid response to put you in a kindly frame of mind. And that is what we will receive – and achieve – when we park ourselves at Petit Bocal.
It is the not-indecent hour of 10am on a Monday. We claim ourselves a window seat and let the sun pat our backs while we absorb the view within. A woman finds herself remarking she likes the place already, and we haven’t even been fed yet.
That’s as much to do with the fact we like what we see, as much as that our immediate needs are attended to with alacrity. The delivery of an assertive Supreme flat white does wonders, as does the tea for my sponsor. A generous nod to the perspicacious wait woman is warranted here.
There’s a lot of black and white going on at Petit Bocal: the fit-out, the photographs, the wait staff kits. There are, not surprisingly, many French connections – but thankfully an absence of accordions, berets or striped shirts. The bocal (it means ‘jar’ in France) theme is reflected in the use of inverted preserving jars as light shades, and mini terrariums on the tables. Fear not, it works. We like the lightness and simplicity.
We like the look of the menu too. Tempted as we are by a fellow diner’s salmon gravlax scrambled eggs – with a croissant – we’ll eventually settle for crepes (lemon and sugar, $12.00) for me and Shashi’s eggs ($18.00) for him. Had we been more adventurous, we might have gone for the marinated sardines.
His Master’s choice comes all exuberant in both flavour and size - baked in a dish with tomato, capsicum and Puy lentils; the crepes are as light and as gorgeous as had been dreamed of.
Petit Bocal is unusual in a number of respects. It’s in a nondescript bit of Sandringham Road, squeezed in between a selection of tired old shops. That fact, it will transpire, offers a pleasant break from the usual boulevard of eateries that pepper more popular strips. And it has an air abundant of good cheer and welcome.
It’s also open seven days – and it does lunch and dinner too. That is enough to strike dread in the heart of any diner (how can they accommodate so much?) but if the breakfast treatment is anything to go by, they do so with a finesse.
We like this address. Too many pretenders seem to think all it takes to succeed is a cute accent. Petit Bocal, however, thrives on its ample and legitimate merits.
177 Sandringham Road,
Phone: (09) 815 6992
Hours: 7am – 10pm, seven days
PHOTOGRAPHS BY WILLIAM CHEN