Part Un: The Historic Location
I first encountered Le Petit Paris about a year ago. My son (age seven at the time) and I were walking down Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) when he spotted some macarons in a store window and ran inside. The shop turned out to be La Boutique, which is right next door to Le Petit Paris, and it carries a charming selection of French specialty products, art, and pastries from the restaurant. While the saleslady was ringing us up she told us that we needed to come back for brunch and sit on the patio, and also that I should plan a date night on a Wednesday and come enjoy some live jazz.
Seasons changed…leaves fell from the trees….and I finally made it back to Le Petit Paris in February for dinner with a girlfriend. Just from my first brief visit, I knew this was a special place and decided to look into the history of it before our meal.
Le Petit Paris is in the El Dorado Building in DTLA’s Historic Core, which was the center of the city until the 1940s. Lately, the area has been coming back to life with a vengeance, and it is thrilling for a history and architecture buff like myself to stroll around and see so many beautiful building being restored to their former glory.
The El Dorado was built in 1913, and according to Le Petit Paris’s charming Maitre D’, Thomas Marini, Charlie Chaplin used to live in the hotel that was located in the building. Le Petit Paris occupies what used to be the hotel’s lobby, and you can totally picture Old Hollywood’s elite coming down the grand staircase in the 1920s. Today, YOU can strike a pose on that staircase as you take in the skylights, two bars, gold-leafed columns on the walls, and crystal chandeliers.
The décor is breathtaking; I have never been to France but I picture all of the restaurants and hotels there as having this kind of effortlessly luxurious look. Somehow, the restaurant is spacious yet cozy, which is quite a feat considering it seats 300 (there is a mezzanine level and outdoor patio).
Le Petit Paris was opened by Cannes-based, husband-and-wife restaurateurs David and Fanny Rolland. The original Le Petit Paris is in Cannes, and this location in DTLA opened in 2015. I have heard well-traveled friends refer to it as a brasserie, which is a type of French restaurant that is relaxed and informal.
Parat Deux: The Food
When you check out the website, you will discover that Le Petit Paris has a variety of offerings from Executive French Chef Baptiste Grellier: a lunch menu, dinner menu, cocktails, wine menu, jazz menu, happy hour, Saturday brunch, and Sunday brunch buffet. And I would recommend checking it out at different times, as during the day the space is bright and cheery, and then cool and seductive after the sun goes down.
If you devour French cookbooks and books about life in France like I do, you will find that the menus of Le Petit Paris are filled with traditional French dishes you have read about: Croque Madame, Croque Monsieur, La Belle Nicoise, La Salade De Chevre, French Onion Soup, Homemade Duck Foie Gras Terrine with Cherry Chutney and Toasted Brioche Bread, Charcuterie, and a Cheese Plate selection
We started our meal with the Green Asparagus, which comes with a Homemade Hollandaise Sauce (it is worth the trip to Le Petit Paris for that alone), Lemon Zest and Fleur de Sel, which is a finishing salt. I’m a vegetarian, and I really enjoyed my entrée of Vegetable Linguini with cherry tomatoes, artichokes, garlic and basil. My friend had the Roasted Atlantic Salmon with sautéed baby vegetables and beurre blanc sauce (which translates as white butter sauce–YUM), and we finished our meal with a bowl of fresh berries covered in whipped cream.
As we ate and caught up after not seeing each other for months, my friend and I really enjoyed the music from the live deejay, which was French music early in the evening and then segued into live mixing with pop and hip hop and standards. When we did a final “Cheers” with our champagne, Cori we realized that we had been talking and drinking and eating for three hours, and we STILL didn’t want to leave!
La Ligne De Fond (The Bottom Line): Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all of the delicious food and magic at the NOT so petite Le Petit Paris. J’aime ce restaurant!
Le Petit Paris
418/420 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
About the Writer: Lara Scott is a popular radio host and on-air personality, a Los Angeles lifestyle expert, and a contributing writer to The Happy Weekly. Connect with her on Instagram.