When I was in my 20’s, I had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. While many of my classmates were starting families, getting divorces, stabbing voodoo dolls of those who were enjoying life, and wearing fake smiles, I was jetting across the skies to Tokyo, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, London, Stuttgart, and Beijing. One splendid city I got to travel to was Chalon-sur-Saône in France. Nothing like the metropolis of Paris, it was quaint in its own right. And the food was more provincial than the rich, sleep-inducing cuisines of the Parisian flare. Remembering my days of youth, I recalled a certain French restaurant in Chicago’s Hyde Park. Having never gone to the restaurant when I lived in Hyde Park for several years, I made a reservation so that I no longer had an excuse for never putting my feet under a table there. I was off to 1504 E. 55th Street in Hyde Park to see what I had been missing.
Because I wanted to enjoy my meal like a degustation, I started with a crutide salad. Marinated beets, celery remoulade, and carrot threads with herbed mustard vinaigrette sat atop a bed of spinach. Usually, the French will have carrots and celery in a vinaigrette for a snack. But having the vegetables chopped into threads and served under a drizzle of vinaigrette was just as fine.
The soup was a winner without a lot of seasoning added. For this course, I had puréed asparagus with asparagus tips and scallions. The flavouring, albeit light, was rather mild due to the soup being vegan. So, there was no broth added. Since my diet is low in salt, I was rather happy to enjoy the bowl of soup without overpowering herbs, competing spices, or heavy on sodium.
When it came to the entrée, I had mixed feelings. The sturgeon was fantastic. One thing to note is that sturgeon has a silky texture to it, so that can become a deterrent to those who are accustomed to flaky fish. Again, there wasn’t an overpowering recipe to the fish. The spinach was also flavourful without excess. The potatoes, however, were rather tough — the texture you find when something has set for a while and then reheated immediately before served. Had it not been for the sturgeon and spinach, the dish would have been comme ci, comme ca.
Now that I reached my 46th birthday, which was when I said I would add desserts back to my diet, I opted for three scoops of ice cream. There were white peach, chocolate, and hazelnut. Those were perfect, as they were light and not heavy with sugar the way cakes, pies, and cookies are. Plus, the scoops were ideal with the cup of coffee that I took with only milk.
While La Petite Folie has all the trimmings of French ambience, one may struggle with the provincial menu. There are no creams and rich sauces, which are what you find in Parisian restaurants. Granted I did not indulge the dishes with beef or chicken in them, those may have been in a heavy sauce. Nevertheless, the salad, soup, and entrée were very much reminiscent of what I remembered from passing through Eastern France. For those who are conscious about their budget, La Petite Folie surprisingly is not taxing on the wallet. This could be an incentive for you to try several delights of their offerings. I shall certainly return to see what else they have for my appetite. In the meantime, Bon appetit!