As you may know, Local 188 has been my go-to restaurant in town for a spur of the moment, quality, moderately priced dinner. I know their white fish special will always be good, they have great small plate starts, their cocktails and wine list are great, and the ambiance can fit most any occasion.
But Petite Jacqueline is sneaking up into those categories. It’s name has started to spring to my tongue faster than Local’s in response to the question, where should we eat tonight?
While this may be a short-lived phenomenon, as I’ve only been to Bistro PJ twice, whereas Local has stood the test of time, I believe the restaurant has the makings of a ‘short list’ restaurant. That is, one I’ll recommend to out-of-towners, one for friends looking to entertain, and one that I can count on to deliver a reasonably priced, great meal whether it be a Wednesday or a Saturday.
Petit Jacqueline focuses on French classics- without a twist, just straight-up. I heard someone describe the menu as entry level culinary school ‘French Cooking 101,’ which, to me, is not a detraction. In Portland, there are very few ‘classics’ in the new restaurant category- everyone is reaching for something new. But Steve and Michelle Correy (of five-fifty five) are turning out classics that are simple and good, and can be unexpected if you (like me) are not too familiar with well-executed French classics.
The menu is heavy on the meat- rich preparations of charcuterie, from the trotters ($8) you see above to the charcuterie plate ($9), on this night including pork pate and chicken liver, bacon-wrapped terrine.
The trotters were not my favorite, served cold, and a little too ‘springy’ (ie. too cartilaginous), but the country-style pork pate was silky smooth and creamy.