Before I sit down to writing a restaurant profile or review, before I even try the food, I like to have a chat with the owner, the manager or anyone else who can tell me something more about the place – a bit of a background, some context, helps add a bit of depth to the story. So, it’s exactly what I did when I arrived at Little Paris gastronomic bistro at Phuket Boat Avenue – I joined the restaurant manager Jerome Ciambella who, as always, was sitting by the entrance, welcoming guests.
He told me about his over 20-years-long friendship with Little Paris owner, Mario; about how they both are of Italian origin but were born and grew up in Burgundy, France (“Two of the world’s best cuisines are Italian and French, and we represent both”);he explained why he is always there, by the door, calling guests by their names, welcoming them on arrival and inviting them to return again as they depart (“I think it’s very important, it makes it personal. That’s the way we do it in France. “); he even told me about the eclectic interior design of the bistro, featuring Indonesian furniture arranged by a French designer.
And then he started talking about the food. About all the ingredients they import, to make everything taste authentic: the cream, the butter, the cheese from France; the oysters, the foie gras, the snails also from French importers, the burrata cheese, the pasta and truffles from Italy… all of this personally selected by Mario and Jerome for utmost quality and then cooked with true love and attention (“Even the mayonnaise, the bread, it’s all homemade.”)
“Words,” I thought with a healthy dose of a journalist’s scepticism, as the first plate landed in front of me – a trio of starters: Smoked Red Tuna Tartare, homemade Tasmanian Salmon Gravlax and homemade Foie Gras Terrine. I took a bite of the salmon…and I flew away. No, it wasn’t good, it was…perfect, expressing with its flavour all the love and attention Mario and Jerome pour into running Little Paris. The mouthfuls of the Terrine and tuna that followed only confirmed my first impression.
I approached the main course – a slow-cooked Australian lamb shanks with sides of potato gratin and zucchini lasagna – with much more respect. But again, the first try of the soft, succulent meat took my pallet into another dimension.
I like to learn a bit about a restaurant’s background before I try the food. I like to have a chat with the owner. Excuse me though, but the next time I dine at this restaurant, I’ll eat first. There will be time for talking later; at Little Paris, food comes first.
Learn more at littleparisphuket.com