A small taste of France

Neil Littman heads to Cockfosters on the latest stop of his tour of Enfield’s best eateries

Goats cheese salad
Goats cheese salad

I am beginning to learn that reviewing restaurants is an unpredictable business. This month, I had intended to check out two local Italian establishments and see how they compared.

However, one of them was not open on the evening I tried to book and my friends who agreed to accompany me told me my alternative suggestion had disappointed them. A third choice turned out to have closed during the past year.

Quick change of plan and off to La Petite Auberge in Cockfosters, which is neither ‘petite’ nor an ‘auberge’ but is a grand space both on the outside and inside, with an enclosed garden courtyard at the rear. Better still, it is an all-day brasserie providing traditional French food for breakfast, lunch and dinner – the sort of place you would find on most street corners in France but are all too rare here.

The restaurant seems to have come through the past year-and-a-half relatively unscathed, even though it was unable to take advantage of outdoor dining for lack of pavement space. Having two friends in tow meant we could order a wider selection of dishes, though I noticed my friends were not particularly keen on sharing!

The menu is aimed at providing a generic selection rather than regional specialities, but this is not an Anglophile take on French food as I saw many of the same items offered in bistros on a recent trip to France. We opted for the set menu, which is only slightly less costly than eating a la carte. Our starters were deep-fried calamari, grilled goat’s cheese, and deep fried mushrooms in cheese with garlic. The mains we tried were rib-eye steak, duck confit and sea bass. And for dessert we had an authentic tarte Tatin and creme bruleé. One plus, from my point of view, was low salt levels in the food which meant I didn’t feel dehydrated.

The most surreal moment of the evening came when we heard ‘happy birthday’ being sung for the third time in the back room, apparently by the same party. And one minor gripe was the number of times we were asked if everything was okay; the result of being served by four or possibly five members of staff who probably should have conferred!

La Petite Auberge can be found at 12-13 Heddon Court Parade, Cockfosters Road, Cockfosters EN4 0DB. A set dinner costs £28 per head, plus wine from about £22 a bottle. Open every day until 10pm, booking advisable in the evening. To book:
Call 020 8447 1777
Visit petiteauberge.co.uk