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La Petite France

The 'It List'

La Petite France
2912 Maywill St. 353-8729

La Petite France remains, after more than two decades, the bastion of French classic cuisine in Richmond. Chef Paul Ebling and his wife Marie-Antoinette are charming hosts to this most intimate of clubs, where most of the patrons know the Eblings and each other. Traditional French food, an elegantly plush ambience and attentive service all combine for a memorable occasion.

French haute cuisine has taken a hard hit in the past couple of decades from both nutritionists and the "nouvelle" movement. Sauces that rely on eggs, butter and cream and oil-based emulsions have fallen out of favor, replaced by jus and essences. A new generation of cooks and diners will no doubt discover the glories of perfectly made hollandaise sauce or a shimmering soufflé full of flavor and hot air. At La Petite France, they are still there for the asking.

While the traditional dishes make up most of the extensive menu, a list of specials — with attractive prices — probably owe more to new food fashions than tradition.

In an MTV world, La Petite France offers escape, at least for an evening, to a quieter, gentler