Le Petit Louvre in Sydney’s Potts Point – A Feast For Lovers of Fromage & Rococo
In the serene heart of Sydney’s very European inspired restaurant and commercial quarter of Potts Point you’ll discover Le Petit Louvre French restaurant and French Fromagerie/cheese specialty boutique. The restaurant was founded by Christian Estebe – a profoundly knowledgeable enthusiast and importer of fine French cheeses and other delicacies such as Foie Gras. Le Petit Louvre is not only a French cheese emporium but a petit treasure that can be likened to being inside a quiet hidden room somewhere in King Louis XV’s quarters at the Palace of Versailles or like being inside an escape room behind a revolving wall at the Louvre. The restaurant was named for Christian’s adoration of Paris’ famous Louvre museum and because the premises is indeed quite petit – hence the name Le Petit Louvre was born. Monsieur Estebe is also an avid lover of all things Baroque and Rococo art and culture which is reflected inside his little restaurant where everything from the replica art on the walls to his family’s heirloom table cloths to the music played in the background come from the Baroque/Rococo period during Louis IV’s reign and time of his famous lovers Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. When sampling the cheese at Le Petit Louvre you’ll find yourself indulging in some cheeses that even date back to the Rococo period – a perfect marriage and experience of that era devised by Christian himself.
On the day mon mari and I arrived to experience for ourselves all the wonderful things we had been hearing about this little place we were starving for some exceptional French cheese and wine and truly craving an authentic escape to France here in Sydney. As soon as we stepped inside the restaurant we were greeted not only by Christian’s warm and generous hospitality but also by a familiar fragrant whaft of cheese much like that we had experienced when walking into a Parisian Fromagerie – a cheese artisan specialty store. That heady, sweet fragrance of cheese that the French like to call “the perfume of God’s feet” was heightened and magnified by a series of Fragonard’s heavenly cherubs smiling down at us from the ceiling and which are part of the Progress Of Love series originally commissioned for Madame du Barry. Mon mari and I were immediately transported to France just by the aromas inside the restaurant and my excitement was amplified once I had noticed a delightful selection of elegantly displayed cheese resting comfortably inside the display counter to the back of the dining room.
Atop the cheese counter a few bottles of French wine and crispy baguettes rested quietly at their stations waiting to be served alongside a spectacular cheese platter orchestrated by Christian. To the side of the cheese counter a tiny wine bar is anchored regally by an oversized gilded antique mirror where a stunning replica of a 1735 painting by Jean-Francois de Troy titled, “The Oyster Dinner” hangs gracefully. The painting happens to be one of Christian’s favorite art pieces commissioned by Louis XV to adorn a dining room in the quieter apartments at the Palace of Versailles. This painting, very appropriately chosen by Christian, adds a certain je ne sais quoi or flavor to the dining room as it depicts a gathering of aristocratic men indulging in oysters and champagne and where the first appearance of an actual champagne bottle is first depicted in a painting. Christian also informed us that if you look carefully into the painting you’ll see a little beige mark in the middle of the art piece of a cork flying into the air highlighting the opening of a champagne bottle – a tiny detail often overlooked by viewers. More of Christian’s beloved Rococo art pieces hang elegantly on either side of the dining room walls and are situated above the banquette dining tables. Both paintings are by Jean-Honore Fragonard – the Rococo period most beloved and honored artist. One of the Fragonard replicas is his most recognizable work which happens to be the second paintings from his beautiful series The Progress Of Love titled “The Meeting” where two lovers finally meet. On the opposite wall above another banquette table is a replica painting by Fragonard titled “Blind Man’s Bluff” depicting two lovers playing a popular and highly entertaining game of the Rococo period. The art pieces selected certainly add a sense of playfulness and romance to the dining room as well as character and interest.
On the day we came Christian was kind enough to welcome us to taste his divine cheese platters just before a private party were due to arrive at the restaurant. We pretty much had Christian to ourselves who was so gracious with his time and knowledge of all things French history and cheese that we didn’t want to leave and remain at the restaurant to linger over our wine, incredibly delicious cheese and the mesmerizing ambience of the place. The menu at Le Petit Louvre is also petit and changes seasonally but most of our French favourites including Christians cheese platters are usually on offer. Expect to find on the menu a magnifique Confit de Canard avec Pommes Sarladaises, Charcuterie Platter avec Duck Rillette and Saucisson, Salade de Crottins de Chevre Chaud, Freshly Shucked Tasmanian Oysters with shallot and wine vinigrait and Creme Brulee for a creamy sweet grand finale. Le Petit Louvre is open for brunch, lunch and dinner Wednesday through to Friday and to guarantee a table book in advance as the restaurant can only accommodate a small number of people. You can also pop in to the restaurant anytime during opening hours for some takeaway cheese to enjoy at home.
Le Petit Louvre might perhaps by the smallest French restaurant in Sydney but it is certainly the one with the most character, authenticity and offers the best cheeses and wine you’ll ever taste outside of France. When you’re missing and yearning for France, as I always do, coming to Le Petit Louvre and experiencing the warm hospitality that Christian provides combined with a French ambience like no other is truly the best French fix you’ll get in town. Dear readers, are you entranced by Le Petit Louvre inspired by France?
Le Petit Louvre
2 Springfield Ave, Potts Point NSW T:0435 477 162
Opening Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10am-8pm