Sometimes you need to go out of town to discover the “hidden gems” in your own back yard. Such was the case with Petite Provence. Late last fall, I headed east to The Dalles, Oregon, in a quest to find some much needed sunshine after a particularly long stretch of gray skies and cold drizzly rain. Strolling along 2nd Street, basking in the sun, I happened to hit this little French bistro right around lunchtime.
The interior was bright and airy with burnished wood furnishings and splashes of color. (warm earth tones) The wait staff was friendly and attentive. Best of all, once seated, they left me alone to peruse the menu without feeling rushed.
Hmmm, breakfast or lunch. A tough decision, as it turned out. There were 2-3 items on each menu that really called to me that day. Though I was a bit leery of the goat cheese–it doesn’t always agree with my taste buds–I finally opted for the Bread Pudding Souffle. So glad I did! The bread was soaked with egg custard, then baked with apricots and the afore-mentioned goat cheese. The result was rich and creamy, with the fruit providing just enough sweetness to the dish without being overwhelming. (I’ve had similar dishes elsewhere that were almost sugary sweet)
Chatting with the waitress before leaving, I was surprised to learn that Petite Provence also has four locations in the Portland Metro area. I have since visited three of the four–always a treat–and have never been disappointed.
More of my brunch favorites:
The Croissant: Served piping hot. Hands down, this is one of the best fresh-baked croissants I’ve ever tasted. Light, flaky, buttery. And it comes with a homemade raspberry jam that’s not too tart nor too sweet.
Eggs Provencal: Juicy, ripe, flame-roasted tomatoes provide a burst of flavor in this dish topped with fresh basil pesto and melted mozzarella.
Risotto Cakes and Eggs: Just the right crunch on these lightly breaded rice cakes made with sautéed asparagus, mushrooms, red onions, and fresh basil.
Provencal Potatoes and Butternut Squash: Tasty alternative to the hash browns and seasoned home fries served almost everywhere.
Though Petite Provence serves a variety of breakfast cocktails, their Ultimate Bloody Mary seems to be a popular choice. (judging by how many I saw streaming out to tables in the dining area) This brunch classic is made with their very own Bloody Mary mix shaken with a choice of either straight or jalapeno-infused vodka. And it comes garnished with pickled veggies and a crispy bacon strip.
Finally, no visit to Petite Provence is complete without a stop at the pastry counter. Oh what goodies you will find! Berry-filled danishes with sweet pastry crème, brioche galettes, palmiers, papillons, cakes, tarts, turnovers, and cookies. Not to mention their fresh-baked breads.
All of the Petite Provence locations tend to be super busy on the weekend, but the wait–never longer than about 30 minutes–is worth it. Good food and generous portions, reasonably priced, in a cozy bistro setting. What more could you want? Just be sure to bring your appetites!
For the location nearest you, please refer to the Petite Provence website.