03 December 2015

Au P'tit Cafe ~ Modern French - Noumea, New Caledonia

Au P'tit Cafe is the one restaurant on our absolutely-must-visit list on our annual Noumea trip.

Noumea has a handful of more traditional French restaurants we love equally, but Au P'tit Cafe is uniquely modern French with a fresh local twist, the likes of which we'll never find anywhere else, it's a locals' favourite and kinda special.

We like to visit at lunchtime when the joint is packed and buzzing, it's one of those restaurants that just works, one of those smart operations we can't help but daydream about replicating back home.

Au P'tit Cafe wisely keeps their menu down to around five mains, ditto for deserts. Some folks whine about the small menu on TripAdvisor, that's because they are idiots. A small menu is a good menu, it means the food is fresh, and the kitchen is pumped up, geared and primed to nail every dish every time.

The menu changes weekly so it's a good idea to check out Au P'tit Cafe's Facebook page where they have photos of the dishes of the week. On our previous visit the beef cheeks with cream foie gras sauce still rates as Shawn's all time favourite uppity restaurant meal, beating even that mind blowing ham'n'foie gras sammich in we had in some random bistro in Paris.

The food is modern French at heart with local influences, and they wisely design the menu with a mix of light to heavy dishes. We find the heavier dishes have the more wow factor, but as our week-long holiday goes by, and the kilos pile on, we find limits as to how much rich food we can eat. On this visit Shawn's brain craved the rich slow cooked beef, but his body screamed for salad. Luckily we had a group of five so we could pretty much try the lot.

In writing this place up we wonder if we've oversold it but hey, we just love it, and so do the locals.

Filet de mahi mahi - 2,450f. Mahi mahi fishy bits with veggies, pearl barley, tagine veggies, Thai basil in a bouillabaisse jus. The pearl barley was the surprise 'wowsers, why don't I cook this at home?' part of the dish.

Salade au magret roti - 2,500f. Salad with roast duck breast, creamed goat cheese, rocket, beans and Parmesan, and a deep fried egg that oozed that magic yellow yolk.

Cocotte de paleron de beorfu confit - 2,450f. We decipher this to mean a confit of chuck steak cooked in a cocotte, which the internet tells us is a shallow individual baking dish. Or a prostitute. The beef was mouth melty slow cooked but it was the sweet potato puree mixed with jus that was really amazingly wazzo.

Ceviche de pouate - 2,450f. Sashimi of red snapper and crunchy fried fishy nuggets (goujonette, or little pieces of fish deep fried to look like little pieces of fish) with salad and wasabi mayo.

Have we got room for dessert?

Perles du Japon - 1090f.  Coconut tapioca with fresh fruit, caramelised banana pieces and coconut ice cream, topped with a coconut cracker.

Strawberry tarte - 1090f.  Like strawberry shortcake, this was the winner of the desert section for us, Miss Cakey 2015.

Cheese cake a la passion - 1,090f. A house specialty, we think the passionfruit cheesecake is a permanent fixture. It's an uber light cream cheesecake, we expected it to be very sweet but it was actually a little bitter, like unsweetened passionfruit.

Dining in Noumea is a particular pleasure after Sydney, the table is yours to sit in and linger as long as you like, no hurry. We also love that Noumea is refreshingly free of Sydney's food fadism, nuff said.

Au P'tit Cafe is at 8, av des freres Carcopino, Noumea, Grand Terre 98800, New Caledonia. Phone (687) 28 21 89. See www.auptitcafe.nc and TripAdvisor. Tip: Au P'tit Cafe's Facebook page usually has photos of dishes from the current menu so you can decide before you arrive.

We've been twice in winter and found we need to book a day or two in advance to get a table. We just walk by on a Tuesday lunchtime and make a booking for later in the week.

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Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

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