Place: In English, 'little jar', Petit Bocal is a French bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, tucked away on Sandringham Road, Auckland. It's been open since March 2013, and is one of Auckland's best hidden French gems.
People: Owners Matt Gosset (originally from Paris), and partner Jess Brewer are to be regularly seen behind behind the counter and at the table. You might recognise them from their first spot, La Boulange, their first bakery in Herne Bay. Many of the front of house team are French, enriching the dining experience with their melifluous accents.
Decor: Themed around the "bocal", jam jars containing lightbulbs at various heights drop throughout the rectangular interior, illuminating 70s French school chairs and handmade timber tabletops. The walls are lined with black and white photography in different sized frames, and a large central table is always topped with fresh flowers. Jess and Matt fitted out the interior themselves, and have done a wonderful job of creating homeliness without clutter or fuss.
On the menu: Lots of interesting options to choose from at any time of the day. A main serving counter is heaped with absolutely delicious French pastries and brioches, fresh from La Boulange, meaning even take-away breakfast is a tough decision.
We went for brunch, and enjoyed simple and rustic dishes. The scrambled eggs with salmon gravlax were a buttery and indulgent treat alongside a freshly baked croissant, whilst "Shashi's Eggs" - a baked dish with spicy tomato and puy lentils, was a perfect winter dish. The marinated French sardines were a pretty concept, served in the original tin alongside an egg and soliders, but were a little on the simple side. We wanted to try the crepes with lemon three ways, but felt a weekend would help justify the indulgence, though if you've a sweet tooth this would do nicely any day of the week.
For dinner there is a choice of evening platters comprised of French delicacies - from cheeses with quince to duck rillettes and chicken liver pâte - as well as very well priced plat du jours. $28 could buy you anything from traditional French stews, a country roast or steak frites, depending on what night of the week you dine. Save room for pudding too - red wine poached pear and apple tarte tartin are worth it.
In the cup: Kokako Organic Fairtrade coffee, Harney's and Sons tea, and a wide selection of juices and soft drinks, complete with (bien sur) Orangina and Perrier lemon and lime.
In the wine glass: A brilliant selection of French wines and styles, at a good general price of $10-$12 per glass. Coopers ales, Kronenbourg and the usual suspects are also available from the fridge.
Go tomorrow: For a quick coffee and a croissant on the way to work (if you're not local you could rise early - the warm pastries make it worthwhile), or a relaxed long lunch with wine, Paris style. Return for dinner (or simply let lunch turn into it via a few platters), or pop in mid-week for a glass of wine and a French bite.
Open: 7am - 10pm, everyday of the week.
Address: 177 Sandringham Road, Sandringham, Auckland.