Petit Pois sounds very French and feels like kissing the air. However, it actually means “little pea” and it has been open in the center of the Downtown Mall since 2005.
Petit Pois is a small, cute, and unpretentious bistro. The casual and affordable sibling of the upscale Fleurie restaurant located one block away.
We were delighted to meet and talk with Brian Helleberg, owner and executive chef at Petit Pois. Helleberg is one of the most interesting cooks in town because of his vision. After 30 years in the business he calmly talks about their commitment to local farmers, growers, fishmongers, artisans, vintners, brewers and craftsmen. “Great food has to be the result of a thriving community,” Hellberg claims.
Due to the local sourcing, Petit Pois often changes harmoniously with the seasons. Even the impressive terrace blossoms when the weather turns warmer.
The house flagships are Soupe à l’Oignon (onion soup) and Moules Marinieres (Prince Edward Island Mussels with beurre blanc, mirepoix and grilled bread), but you will find other French-inspired specialties like shrimp and lobster bisque, escargots, tuna nicoise salad, steak tartare, and chicken liver mousse. Hearty mains include the Coq Au Vin, Ratatouille, Duck a l’Orange, Smoked Lamb Ragout and Bourride (saffron shellfish broth, mussels, sea bass, scallops, calamari and alioli).
There is no doubt that the desserts are something to consider at Petit Pois. Chef Hellberg’s top pick is the Profiteroles (pastry puffs, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce). In addition, a selection of artisanal cheeses can be an excellent way to wrap up a meal with family or friends. And, with coffee they serve a flight of petit fours, as cute and tasty as the restaurant itself.
“Au revoir, merci beaucoup!”
Phone: (434) 979-7647
Hours: Mon-Thu 11.30am-2.30pm and 5pm-9pm. Fri-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm and 5pm-10pm. Sun 10.30am-3.30pm and 5pm-9pm
Text and photo: Edu Bayer