We were driving around Portland’s Longfellow Square the other day when we spotted the new umbrellas outside one of our favorite restaurants in town, Petite Jacqueline, and it made us so excited for the many al fresco meals we hope to enjoy there this summer. Soon after I stopped daydreaming about all of the cheese and rosé I plan on consuming at Petite, I received these scans from a forgotten roll of film I’d shot back in February. A trio of tasty cheeses, a seasonal salad, and an order of Michael’s favorite, the beef bourguignon – I’m sure you’ll find a similar spread on our table this summer!
When Meredith read about the $15 prix fixe Maine Restaurant Week lunch menu at Petite Jacqueline, it immediately became a must-try for us, so we did the logical thing, talked it up to our good friends Darcy and Carolyn, and made an early afternoon of it. Petite is always a beautiful place for photography, but with the soft light, quintessential French place settings and decorations, and colorful dishes, Meredith was in heaven while the four of us had a few drinks, ate some delicious food, and shared more than a few laughs.
Two of us ordered the soupe a l’oignon to start – a deliciously hearty and warming bowl of French onion soup, topped with crostini and covered in gruyere. As the crostini absorbs the broth and softens, each spoonful becomes something to cherish. I’m pretty sure I did the least amount of talking while I enjoyed this part of my meal. The other two started with the warm carrot and leek soupe du jour – a comforting and savory way to escape the chilliness of late winter in Maine. After our soups, I had the croque monsieur while everyone else ordered the sandwich au fromage. Easily better than even the croque monsieur I ordered last summer in Paris, this grilled ham and gruyere sandwich is served on two thick slices of bread and drizzled with a wonderful mornay sauce. The sandwich au fromage was a melted brie with apricot preserves, served on a baguette with a side salad. Judging by the abundance of clean plates, I’d say that everyone enjoyed their meals.
We’re never unhappy with a meal at Petite, but whether it was the food, the atmosphere, the company, the stories, or just the lazy lunch hour(s), there was simply something special about this meal that I’ll be filing away in my memory.
What better way to treat yourself after running a 5k, than to grab some brunch from one of your favorite restaurants in town? That’s exactly the sentiment Meredith and I held after running the Bayside Trail dog friendly 5k last weekend, so after we had showered and changed, we turned back around to grab a bite from Petite Jacqueline without any of the typical big-brunch calorie guilt.
We started with the Pain Perdu, the 2-day soaked real french toast. A little fluffier than our all-time favorite Pain Perdu at Caiola’s, around the corner, it was a perfectly sweet way to kick off our celebratory meal. Meredith ordered a Croque Madame (a gourmet ham and cheese, with ham, gruyere, mornay, and fried egg) to follow – it was fantastic, as I think I stole at least half of it right off her plate. I decided to try the Hachage Agneau (braise lamb hash with two poached eggs, homefries, hollandaise, and toast), and couldn’t have been happier than my selection.
Meredith and I love Petite Jacqueline and brunch almost as much as we love Orvis (if you know us, you know just how much that means), and if the only requisite for a guilt-free brunch is a 5k, Meredith might make a runner out of me yet.
One of our favorite parts about our trip to France were the long, leisurely lunches we were fortunate to enjoy in Provence. One afternoon while we were snacking on charcuterie, cheese, and of course, a glass of rose, we made a pact to enjoy more of these relaxed lunches once we returned home. It was only fitting that our first leisurely lunch post-France take place at our favorite French bistro, Petite Jacqueline.
Eating lunch on the patio at Petite Jacquline in the summer is a must, and since they also happen to allow dogs to accompany their owners outside, bringing Orvis along for a lunch overlooking Portland’s Longfellow Square was a no-brainer. In fact, when we arrived there was already a cute doodle enjoying the afternoon at Petite Jacqueline with his or her owner.
Michael ordered the bistro burger and it didn’t take long for him to declare it one of his local favorites. In anticipation of our shared cheese plate, I decided to go with a lighter salad of mixed greens so I didn’t feel quite as horrible about the amount of cheese I was about to consume. It was a surprisingly large salad and the perfect complement to the heavenly cheese plate that we ordered!
Petite Jacqueline does a lot of things very well, but possibly one of our favorites is their selection of cheeses. Michael and I are by no means cheese aficionados, but when we select a few from the options at Petite, it’s as if we’ve magically transformed into seasoned fromage veterans – making the perfect choices every time. In reality, it’s just that Petite Jacqueline simply serves a fool-proof well curated list, and one could just blind-folded toss darts at it and hit a home run with every selection. Still, if you’re a little unsure, we’ve fallen in love with their Shelburne Farms cheddar, the comte, pearl, kunick, and the always-tasty brie.
Of course, no leisurely summer lunch for us would be complete without a glass of rosé. As we sipped our drinks, watching life go by in our favorite Portland neighborhood and laughing at our silly dog, we couldn’t help but think that this was even better than our lunches in Provence. We had the best of both worlds here with us – our favorite parts about life in Portland (Orvis being a large part of that) with bits and pieces of what made France so special (rosé & cheese).
Oh, sweet Petite Jacqueline! I know little about French culture or cuisine (other than my favorite Scratch croissants and Pepé Le Pew), and definitely look to Meredith for any true Franco-related information, but if Petite Jacqueline in Portland is any hint, I’m going to love every moment spent in front of a table on our upcoming trip to France.
This perfectly-styled French bistro in Longfellow Square immediately caught our attention when it opened, and it wasn’t long after that we added it to our Portland Top 10. But recently, with a wonderfully generous wedding photography thank you gift from the family of one of Meredith’s clients, we decided to revisit with Map & Menu in mind.
5 o’clock dinners have not always been our style, but knowing that we’d be unable to do Petite Jacqueline justice without a slew of great images, and to take advantage of some great afternoon natural light, we opted to grab a table as soon as they opened. We only shortly had the restaurant to ourselves, but it more than gave us the chance to enjoy a few cocktails and let Mere do her thing with the camera. Maybe it was the suspense of a great meal, or a sunny (albeit windy) afternoon, or my Eiffel Power and her Monet’s Muse, but we were giddy to be back at one of our favorites, and the rest of the evening couldn’t have gone better.
We kicked off our meal with the soupe du jour and a delicious selection of cheeses, and then, with our second cocktails (my Flaneur, her French Connection) moved onto a sensational feast. As an aside, in the 6 years I’ve known Meredith, I think that I’ve seen her order beef from a menu, other than the extremely infrequent burger (when turkey isn’t available), maybe twice. She’s not what I would call a big bovine enthusiast, and I have learned to live with that – sneaking the occasional ribeye when she’s out of town, or getting my fill when we eat out. Leave it to some of our favorite French cuisine however, to get her to buck the trend. Her beef bourguignon (which I had delightfully experienced on a previous trip here) left her absolutely speechless – so tender and delicious – it has to be one of their most popular dishes. I won’t do it justice with words, but my Plat Du Jour lamb over fingerlings had me joining the CPC (clean plate club) in what seemed like a few short minutes.
Have you ever had a meal where afterwards, you lean back in your seat and just take a happy, deep breath to reflect? We did… and then the most delectable Nutella, hazelnut, and banana crepe came to finish us off. What an evening! Hopefully this summer we’ll be using Petite Jacqueline often to show off some of the great food Portland has to offer to our out-of-town guests.