Monday, September 1, 2008

Petit Bill Bistro... a disappointing take 2

We went there when it first opened in May 2007. We had a nice experience then and we were interested to see how it had evolved since then. Terry (the owner) is as friendly as ever - but I am sorry to say that his food has suffered.

The bread they brought us was a little stale - and they were all cut in weird shapes. (some were sliced on the bias, some were just square-ish, all were rather squished-looking.)

All three of us started with salads - I had a Nutty Green, JC had the tomato salad, and our friend Cheez had a Caesar. They were all okay - I am sure most of us can reproduce the same quality from a bag out of Loblaws.

I took the Steak Frites as my main, JC took the seared tuna, and Cheez wanted tenderloin. Both Cheez and I requested medium rare for our steak, but they both came out medium to medium well. My plate was at best ordinary... the steak was a little on the chewy side, and the flavour was a little on the bland side, and the "Belgium Mayo" tasted straight out from a jar.

Cheez was in shock when he received his tenderloin... it was the size of a hockey puck!!! I generally think in North America, the portions in restaurants come way too big, but in this instance, the portion was so small it was ridiculous for a $24 plate. A minute later, Cheez had a funny expression in his face - apparently, they did not remove the strings of the pea pods in his plate - so when Cheez popped a pea pod in his mouth, there was a slight bitterness - not to mention the unexpected "chewiness" factor.

JC's seared tuna was also not to our standard. First of all, we couldn't really see the tuna because it was lost in a jungle of green salad. It looked like someone just opened a bag and dumped salad all over the plate. Then, the tuna was not cooked properly. Maybe because it was so thin... instead of being seared, it was rather just cooked through more or less. Oh, and the tuna was swimming in a sea of yellow mustard. Yup. The normal, regular, yellow mustard found in hotdogs. On the menu it was supposed to be some wasabi sauce, but maybe they ran out in the kitchen...

There was no thought in the presentation of our dinner - and the taste of our meal matched the appearance.

Service was just okay. The waitress was friendly enough but not so knowledgeable about wine and food, and also seemed a bit absent-minded.

There are better choice of restaurants in the area. Even if we were staying in Ottawa, we would not be visiting Petit Bill again.


Anonymous said...

I am embarrassed that your second experience was such a poor one...

I don't like excuses but we have struggled to keep staff through the long period of construction. Unfortunately the quality of our food & wine choices has suffered.

Our 'new' chef & kitchen staff had a sit down about your blog & other comments (Especially about the Seared Tuna-never a favorite of mine).

It has been a tough year; from late October through late March we had a snowbank 8 feet tall in front of the restaurant & when it eventually melted there was a group of cranes & shovels ripping up the pavement & sidewalks. We were down almost 80% in August, if not for a few friends coming to our aide we might very well be closed…

The end of the construction is in site, we have a new chef who just recently moved here from Toronto, the food has already improved dramatically. We are taking an aggressive approach to improve the quality & choice, his nightly featured have been received with yums & oh my gods (Friday night he did a French cut Pork loin with a blueberry-rhubarb chutney, served with Pomme-William & heirloom carrots).

I hate to lose a customer over a bad night, if you’re in town, please call & I’ll have you in as my guests.We have some novel ideas for the fall, remember third times a charm!

Thank you
Terry Fitzpatrick

JC said...

Hi Terry,

sorry for not publishing your post earlier, we're in the mist of our Hong Kong move.
Glad to see you guys are ackowledging the issues and working on bringing Petit Bill that what we remembered it to be the first time.

I don't know when we'll be back in Ottawa but when we are, we'll take you up on your offer. Ottawa already has a limited number of good restaurants and we hated to see one of them go down a few notches.

I also think it is amazing to see you activie on the Web to keep the foodies abreast of the changes.

The best of luck to you and your team and see you soon hopefully!