Monday, 31 December 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Thursdays Sparkle

We're open! Hope you had a lovely holiday with family and friends.

Thursdays Sparkle at Le Petit Bar
Every Thursday: discounted sparkling cocktails and premium bottles of bubbles sold by the glass all night!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Holiday Updates

Hard to believe that this time last year we had taken possession of 399 Water Street and were preparing to start building our dream.

So much has happened in just one year... In October of 2011 I was plotting my next move - was I going to focus my energy on building my communication writing portfolio, or should I follow my heart and stick with food and wine? In November we decided to pull the trigger on Le Petit Bar, and by December 2011 the space was ours. Now in four months we'll celebrate our first anniversary.

I am not surprised that my years of experience in this industry still didn't prepare me for the stresses or rewards of owning my own business, but it is also a little amazing how comfortable running Le Petit Bar became in a relatively short time.

While I can never predict what every week will bring - what challenges we'll face, how many people we'll serve, if we'll surprise, disappoint or please anyone - it's more routine than I ever expected. I can almost tell what my Monday and Tuesday will be like, and by Friday I know I'll start feeling the weekly burnout, but also start gearing up to brave those crazy weekend nights. Sundays at home are much needed and very appreciated - wish I could say the same for Jamie, who is up and using the St. Veronus kitchen early Sunday morning. His hard work, and the hard work of all our staff, is always motivating.

I'm still trying to sort out if this job is less stressful than I anticipated, or if I'm shouldering such a constant level of stress that I no longer notice how stressful it is... until a problem arises. I mean, either way, I knew that this job was going to be hard but also very rewarding, and that it is.

The five of us, Jamie, Sarie, Katie, Bill and me, who work really hard every week to deliver the Le Petit Bar experience are looking forward to a brief break over the holidays. I can tell you it will be very welcomed by all of us. Please note our holiday hours below. I hope we see you over the next few weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Le Petit Bar Holiday Hours:

CLOSED Sunday, Dec 23 - Wednesday, Dec 26
Open at 4pm Thursday, Dec 27
CLOSED Sunday, Dec 30
Open at 7pm Monday, Dec 31, New Year's Eve - we'll serve charcuterie, cheese, wine, cocktails and beer all night. Please ring in the new year with us!
CLOSED Tuesday, Jan 1
Resuming regular business on Wednesday, Jan 2

Friday, 7 December 2012

Niagara Food Specialties at Le Petit Bar

I'm really excited to tell you that we are now serving Niagara Food Specialties products on our boards, in particular their Pingue Prosciutto.

If you've ever purchased Niagara Food Pingue Prosciutto in Toronto, at St Lawrence Market or some other very fine retailers, you've had the pleasure of enjoying this superb ham. It's some of the best prosciutto I've ever tasted, and, I think, the best prosciutto made in Canada.

It's rich, not too salty, buttery, full of pork flavour and melts on your tongue. This is the real deal. And you can get it at Le Petit Bar.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Beaujolais Nouveau

It is that time of year. It's a gulp-able, grapey, fruity, cheerful, festive time of year. Time for Beaujolais Nouveau!

Every third Thursday in November, Beaujolais (a designated wine appellation in France) releases their vin primeur, or first wine. This wine is young, seven to nine weeks old, and meant to be consumed young. Fresh Beaujolais Nouveau is vibrant and celebratory. Do not confuse it with it's much  more sophisticated sibling, Beaujolais Cru (well-made Gamay Noir from appellations including Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie and Brouilly). It is not meant to be admired, collected, aged or critiqued. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk, or rather gulped. A great way to welcome in the festive season.

Featured this weekend at Le Petit Bar is a flight of three Beaujolais wines; Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, and Beaujolais Cru. Taste the three side by side and compare. This is a great way to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau season and to start your exploration of French Gamay Noir.

a Sante!

Le Petit Bar Beaujolais Nouveau Flight, three 2oz pours $9
1. Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau 2012, AC Beaujolais
2. Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2012, AC Beaujolais-Villages
3. Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees 2010, AC Morgon

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Our website is live!

It has photos, menus, staff bios... please check it out.

A great place to look for regular updates, especially regarding our frequently changing menu.

Please visit:

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Open at 9pm Tuesday November 6th

We will not open for regular business until 9 pm on Tuesday, November 6th as we are hosting a private party during the first half of the night.

We will resume regular hours on Wednesday:

Wednesday 4pm - 12am
Thursday 4pm - 1am
Friday and Saturday 4pm - 2am

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fall/Winter Cocktail List

In anticipation of cooler weather (what a spectacular fall week we've had!), we've introduced our newest cocktail list, full of great fall/winter tipples, hopefully destined to become LPB classics!

Old Fashioned - bourbon, simple syrup, LPB Orange Bitters, orange peel

Manhattan - rye, sweet vermouth, LPB Aromatic Bitters, brandied cherry

LPB Cold Weather Sazerac - splash Pastis, rye, simple syrup, LPB Cola Bitters, lemon peel

Lying Ginger - brandy, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, honey syrup, lemon, LPB Apple Bitters, lemon peel

Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy - whisky, honey syrup, lemon, LPB Apple Bitters, hot water, cinnamon stick

LPB Cold Weather Negroni - cacao-nib infused gin, Aperol, sweet vermouth, LPB Cola Bitters, orange peel

The Real Housewife - vodka, Amaretto, cranberry, fresh squeezed orange, LPB Cola Bitters

Thyme for Collins - gin, lemon, fresh thyme, honey syrup, LPB Orange Bitters, soda

Also now available: Vin Chaud, or mulled wine. Perfect for sipping on a cool day...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Orange and Black

We're hosting a Halloween Masquerade.Wednesday, October 31, we'll be open until 2am for an Orange & Black Masquerade. Come dance, enjoy spooky cocktails and perhaps walk away with a prize for best mask or costume.

Also, please note we'll be CLOSED THIS WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24 for our tutored Prince Edward County Chardonnay Tasting. If you have your ticket, lucky you! If not, please keep your eyes open for future events.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Fall/Winter Wine List

We have a really fantastic wine list to get you through the coming cold weather. Hearty, spicy, warming reds, and full, creamy, satisfying whites. This is a goodie!

2011 Humberto Canale Black River Torrontes, Patagonia, Argentina
- aromatic, floral, light-medium bodied, crisp, bright acid

2011 Chateau de la Bouyere, AC Bordeaux, France
- white Bordeaux: Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, typical green & tropical Sauvignon Blanc notes, friendly

2011 Domaine des Lanes Blanc, AC Corbieres, France
- Vermentino and Grenache, drinks very Italian, made in France, ripe apple, bitter almond, lemon, really pleasing, great quality wine

2004 Domaine Barmes Buecher Pinot Gris, Alsace - coming soon
- this is the oldest wine we have served yet. Golden, near orange colour, mushroom notes, rich nuttiness, surprising and amazing.

2011 Tawse Winery Quarry Road Vineyard Gewurztraminer, VQA Niagara, Ontario
- very aromatic nose: rose water, ginger, honey, spice, off dry-medium sweet from Canada's best winery

2010 Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay, Gisbourne, New Zealand
- biodynamic small batch from one of New Zealand's premier wineries, oaked Chardonny, tropical fruit, lemon, toast, very, very delicious. Sure to change your mind about Chardonnay (should you be in the "I don't like Chardonnay" camp)

2010 Adega de Mesao Frio "Claustru's Tinto", DOC Douro, Portugal
- full bodied, tannic wine made from Port grapes. Fantastic value

2010 Bodegas Peique Tinto Mencia, DO Bierzo, Spain
- Mencia is a grape once thought Cabernet Franc (by another name), it has since been discovered that Mencia is its own grape. Not as herbaceously green as typical Cabernet Franc, but very juicy, lots of berries. The jammy nose is deceiving - this is a well balanced wine

2011 Gaia Agirogitiko, PDO Nemea, Greece
- It's time to stop believing that Greek wine is plonk. This is delicious! Our lightest bodied wine, and reminiscent of premier Gamay Noir (think Morgon, France). Very good

2010 R8 Cabernet Sauvignon, California
- R8 is a virtual winery operating out of Tin Barn winery. A subdued California Cab.

2010 Karlo Estaes Merlot, VQA Prince Edward County, Ontario
- very juicy Merlot made from Niagara grapes by one of the County's most decorated wine makers, Richard Karlo. Juicy berries, some herbal notes, more structure than you might expect

2010 Paolo Scavino Nebbiolo, DOC Langhe, Barolo, Italy - coming soon
- this is for you Barolo drinkers. Big, big wine. Fruit, earth, acid, tannins. Enjoy!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Prince Edward County Chardonnay Tasting Update

Quick update regarding participating wineries at our Prince Edward County Chardonnay Tasting:

Closson Chase
Huff Estates
Karlo Estates
Lacy Estates
Norman Hardie
Rosehall Run

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Prince Edward County Chardonnay Tasting at Le Petit Bar

We're hosting a Prince Edward County Chardonnay Tasting at Le Petit Bar!

Wine critics and fans are raving about our local Chardonnay. Is the County the Burgundy of North America? We’re hosting a tutored County Chardonnay tasting to find out!

Explore a number of fine local Chardonnays from the County’s premier wineries, hosted by Christopher Wilton (Wilton Wine Consulting; Small Winemakers Collection), Shannon Mak (owner/operator, Le Petit Bar) and Mackenzie Brisbois (Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Norman Hardie Winery).

Participating wineries include:
Closson Chase
Huff Estates
Lacey Estates
Norman Hardie
Rosehall Run
…. and others

Tickets $45/person, includes all wine, charcuterie and cheese
Only 16 seats; tickets for sale at Le Petit Bar

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Le Petit Bar, 399 Water Street, Peterborough

Monday, 3 September 2012


Hi. Happy Labour Day.

Fall is around the corner, and I am looking forward to it. Normally I'm not eager to wish the summer away, but I can sense how cozy it's going to be in Le Petit Bar come the cooler days and nights.

I can't wait to see the bar full of people, cozy in their sweaters and denim (my fall wardrobe is always my favourite!) with a glass of wine and a board of charcuterie. Some of you may be cursing me for wishing the colder weather upon us, but fall is inevitable, folks. And, it's my favourite time of year.

New warming cocktails, hearty reds and round whites are on the horizon. Can you see yourself in our front window with a warming cup of vin chaud (mulled wine)? We have ideas brimming over about how to offer comforting cooler-weather dishes from our 4'X4' kitchen, and we're brewing up apple & pear bitters for autumnal libations.

Come see us this month to enjoy the last of our summer wine list. Some real staff favourites right now include: 2011Birichino Vin Gris (a crisp, dry rose made from Grenache, Mouvedre, Cinsault and Rolle), 2011 Domaine Dampt et Fils Chablis (delicious unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy) and 2009 Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz (a Barossa beauty).

We're quickly making our way through the gorgeous artisan charcuterie from Les Cochons Tout Ronds, so hurry in! You really don't want to miss this stuff.

Hope to see you soon,

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


I got away this weekend, and attended a wedding in Brampton on Friday (congratulations, Kenzie and Pete!), and a bachelorette in Montreal on Saturday.

When I visit Montreal, I always feel a little jealous of the laid-back, euro lifestyle Montrealers seem to enjoy. Outdoor markets, where you can purchase fresh meat, oysters, fish, tonnes of cheese, beautiful produce and artisan charcuterie. Great wine for sale on every corner. An incredible food culture.

Saturday night in Montreal was spent dining at Deville Diner Bar. Their cocktail list is a lot of fun, and stars some interesting alcoholic milkshakes. The vibe is soda shop/diner for adults - loud music (you can request songs on the jukebox with your iPhone), vinyl booths and comfort food. I had a tasty Ahi Tuna salad (it was massive!) and a Roberts Fizz (Hendrick's, cucumber, cane syrup, Prosecco).

The next day was spent wandering around Marche Jean-Talon. At Les Cochons Tout Ronds I purchased a great deal of beautiful charcuterie made in Quebec. Get ready Peterborough... there's some nice looking saucisson sec, lonzino and chorizo coming your way.

Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins was dinner Sunday night. The place is great - very intimate, open kitchen situated right beside a long narrow bar, raw wood tables, industrial light fixtures, comfortable and stylishly modern at the same time. This place reminded me a lot of Black Hoof in Toronto. The menu is small and changes regularly.

We started with the large house-made charcuterie board, and followed it with roasted cauliflower over celeriac puree and lobster & onion tart. Both dishes were delicious, but the  lobster was a real star. Tender meaty pieces served over onion confit in a crisp pastry crust (lard for sure) with a lightly anise-touched cream.

Next came a cured salmon dish - gently cured fillet, very delicate, sweet and lovely - and sweetbreads with sweet peas. I will almost always order sweetbreads if  available. I love that crispy sear and tender meatiness - a result of perfect preparation. This is the second time I've enjoyed sweetbreads with peas (the first time was at Black Hoof, in fact), and I think this is a dynamite combination. Something about the bright, sweet flavour and almost squeeky texture of peas combined with crunchy-tender sweetbreads is very right.

Crispy pork belly with a zippy barbecue sauce and horseradish foam (foam is something I can do without) followed, with cheese as our last course.

This visit gave me a lot of fuel for the future of Le Petit Bar.  I make an effort to seek out any opportunity to see and taste what others are doing, especially those who inspire me. I'm looking forward to the evolution of our menu, wine list and cocktail list.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer Time...

I've missed you LPB blog and blog-readers.

I'm trying very hard to set a new goal - one post a week, from now on. I've loved writing this blog, and I know some of you really enjoy reading it. I'm sorry to have let you (and myself) down, by not keeping up...

We've introduced a new wine and cocktail list. These new lists have been created with summer in mind. You'll find crisp, refreshing whites, light, juicy reds, and classic summer cocktails.


  • Cuvee Jean Paul Sec (Ugni Blanc and Colombard - very interesting because these grapes are typically used to make Cognac exclusively. This wine reminds me of a Sauvignon Blanc, and is a great hit so far)
  • Cocci Grifoni "Le Torri" (a crisp, mineral-laced Italian blend from Falerio)
  • Domaine Magellan Viognier (Viognier is an aromatic, full bodied grape - one of my favourites right now)
  • Tawse Wismer Vineyard Riesling (off-dry and complex, a winner from Niagara)
  • Domaine Dampt et Fils Chablis (unoaked Chardonnay from Chablis, Burgundy, France. Fresh citrus fruit and apple, stony, flinty notes - also one of my favourites)
  • Garofoli Sangiovese (what's not to love? An easy, juicy, food-friendly wine)
  • Joseph Mellot Chinon (Cabernet Franc from the Loire, France. More full and tannic than you might expect - especially if you are an Ontario Cab Franc drinker - but supple and delicious. Turning into a real favourite with our regulars)
  • Confuron-Cotetidot Passtoutgrain (from Burgundy, "all the grains" refers to the Pinot & Gamay Noir grown in Burgundy. An excellent entry-level example of Confuron-Cotetidot's impressive portfolio)
  • Santa Lucia Nero di Troia (from Castel del Monte, Italy, a full bodied, dry, rich fruity wine)
  • Terre di Balbia Balbium Rosso (80% magliocco and 20% sangiovese from Calabria, Italy, very elegant... really really beautiful)
  • Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz (from Barossa, Australia, almost subdued - closer to France's Syrah than Australia's jammy Shiraz. Spicy black fruit. Very yummy.
We are anticipating the arrival of Birichino's Vin Gris, a very delicious rose and something I've acquired through private order - you won't find this wine in many, if any, other establishments.

We've added a classic Bourbon Mint Julep to our popular Old Fashioned and Manhattan, and a few new concoctions too:
  • Left Bank Daquiri - a twist on Hemingway's drink: Bacardi, Lillet Blanc, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, orange bitters
  • Maximilian: tequila, Campari, lime juice, simple syrup, rhubarb bitters
  • Sailor's Delight: Sailor Jerry's, fresh lemon, lime & orange
  • Rhubarb Martini: gin, simple syrup, rhubarb bitters
It's a really delicious time at Le Petit Bar right now :) Hope to see you in soon

Monday, 11 June 2012


It is hot out there.

And we have air conditioning in Le Petit Bar :)

This is the beginning of our eighth week open. So far, pretty good. On busy days the space is full of excited energy - people are digging Jamie's great food, the wine list has been well received and the cocktails are taking on a buzz of their own.

We are slowly transitioning into our next list, which will feature some interesting selections, including a Passetoutgrains (blended Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir from Burgundy. We'll be selling one of the best Burgundian producer's Passetoutgrains), Barossa Valley Shiraz, County Merlot, Niagara Riesling, Chablis and Chinon (Cabernet Franc). I feel really good about this list and I'm excited to share some uncommon wines with Peterborough.

Next cocktail list will feature our rhubarb bitters. We'll be keeping the Old Fashioned and Manhattan - so well received they are quickly becoming signature cocktails, made with our LPB bitters. And, we are serving delicious Sangria. Keep your eyes and ears open - we are gearing up to start our weekly Sparkling Wine promo night, offering discounts on our Sparkling Cocktails and opening up some great bottles of bubbles to serve by the glass.

Not surprisingly, running Le Petit Bar is a lot of work. Long hours, long days... I am always thinking about this place. It's great work though. Very rewarding and almost always a lot of fun. I'm missing some every-day things I used to enjoy. Especially now, with the beautiful weather. Things like time to really delve into a book while sitting on my front porch, tending to my garden, making delicious meals at home and enjoying them outside with Roland. But, this is the best job I've ever had. What would I be doing right now if I weren't at Le Petit Bar? I don't know... I can't imagine anything else...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Social Media

We now have a Facebook page, and we're working on a website.

I've been trying to post photos of Le Petit Bar on this blog for the last two weeks. Uploading them has been a real pain - has been taking much longer than I have the patience for. So, please visit (and like) our facebook page,, to view some shots of the bar.

The past four weeks have really zipped by. I think we're getting the hang of operating our wine & charcuterie bar, and we've had a great response from Peterborough so far!

Jamie Kohls, our amazing Chef, is tinkering with new menu items - we hope to change our menu quite frequently as the growing season reaches its peak. We're already taking advantage of the market with ramps, asparagus and fiddleheads appearing on the menu. Roland and I are working on a batch of rhubarb bitters for the next cocktail list, and our second batch of house and orange bitters. I'm starting to think about the next wine list. I hope to do some private ordering - winery direct from overseas - which means a very exclusive product for you. Personal favourites on the wine list right now are Lighthall's Cabernet Franc Rose (Prince Edward County, Ontario), and Santa Lucia's Gazza Ladra Fiano (Puglia, Italy).

This Sunday we're taking our amazing staff on a field trip to The Big Smoke, to check out some inspiring restaurants and bars. Hoping to have some food-porn photos to post (provided I can upload them!)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Address ;)

Right. You might need to know this in order to visit us.

399 Water Street, Peterborough

Friday, 4 May 2012


For real! We are now open:

Tuesday & Wednesday 4 pm - 12 am
Thursday, Friday & Saturday 4 pm - 2 am

In addition to 12 bottles by the glass, we are serving beautiful food. Charcuterie, lovingly made by James Kohls, and cheeses procured from Chasing the Cheese, as well as weekend specials, are available until 11 pm. My goal is to be able to serve food until closing hour, and hopefully we'll get there before the end of summer.

Currently available by the glass:

Normanno Insolia
Lillypilly Sauvignon Blanc
Santa Lucia Gazza Laddra Fiano
Exultet White Light

Lighthall Cabernet Franc Rose

Cuvee Jean Paul Vaucluse
Terranoble Pinot Noir
Vinos Jeromin Puerta de Alcala Crianza
R8 Cabernet Sauvignon
Terre di Balbia Balbium

Contarini Prosecco

Lillypilly Noble Blend

Carefully made cocktails are built with housemade bitters (aromatic and orange), fresh squeezed juice and flavoured syrups.

I'm flying by the seat of my pants these days, adjusting to life as an entrepreneur. It's both amazing and a little strange to host people in this space I've spent so much time alone (or with Roland) in over the last few months. I really love it in here. There is so much I'd like to share with you about the experience of opening this place, and so many photos waiting to be posted. Please stay with me as I settle into this new life and get organized... I do have lots to show and tell you, I just don't have enough time!

Please come see us. This will be our second weekend open to the public, and while there is still lots of work to do (every day we learn something new about running Le Petit Bar), we have hit the ground running. I am very happy to welcome you into Le Petit Bar, the little space that is a real extension of me and something I've been looking forward to sharing with you for, what feels like, a long time now.

See you soon

xo Shannon

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Too busy to post!?

We are getting really close to being able to open our doors. Some days there isn't time to eat, and so I'm finding it hard to sort myself out and dedicate the time required for a decent post. I wanted to write something so that you aren't wondering what's happened to us. We're here, and we're working really hard!

I will post some more photos tomorrow, and give you a thorough update on how things are progressing.

I'm sorry it hasn't been more action packed here on the blog... but, I can assure you activity in the bar is at a high right now.

Monday, 26 March 2012

It's been a while.

 It's been a loooong time since my last post. I do apologize.

We're very busy with Le Petit Bar right now. This week marks a milestone for me, as the HRV (air return/ventilation/heating/cooling) is installed and the last of the trades hired finish their work in Le Petit Bar. The space is painted, and we're working on staining the woodwork. Roland and I were a little too aggressive with staining on Saturday, and made ourselves sick from all the fumes. Pretty ridiculous. Lesson learned (take a lot of breaks, outdoors in the fresh air). Having some air circulation in there will help in the future.

What's left - the zinc bar top, assembling the tables, final touches, equipment moved into place, and the liquor license. I hope hope hope the AGCO can process our liquor license in a reasonable amount of time.

We have some solid recipes now, and our staff is hired. We have a ways to go still, but I am confident we'll be open in April. Thank you for being so patient - has this journey felt as long to you as it does to me? I'm excited to meet those of you I haven't yet when we open our doors. The opportunity to connect with you through this blog and over twitter (@lepetitbarptbo) has been very rewarding.

Special thank you to Meghan (no photo - sorry!), Jane, Emily, Sarie, Andrea (also no photo) and Laura (also no photo!) for spending some time helping us over the last couple weeks as we painted the space.

The bouquet garni that flavoured our pork rillettes braising liquid

Refreshing endive, grapefruit & avocado salad

Carrot, cauliflower & roasted red pepper terrine, wrapped and ready to set in the fridge

Sarie (left) and Emily (right) hard at work

Jane works hard, helping us paint

Back & neck breaking work - that's me, painting the ceiling.

One of our kickass chandeliers - Thanks Brad!

A most necessary piece of equipment

Monday, 27 February 2012

I can almost see the end...

It's February now. Almost March. We've been building the bar for nearly two months. Well, to be truthful, most of the first month was spent waiting for that (expletive) building permit.

We have walls, a bar, a back bar, banquettes, almost all the trim, electrical roughed in, plumbing roughed in, a new radiator, a removed radiator, re-plastered crown moulding, primer on the ceiling (worst. job. ever.),  primer on almost all of the crown, chairs & stools purchased, the zinc for our bar top, paint samples, stain samples, light fixtures purchased, our mechanical drawing and guides for the HVAC, 25 percent of our equipment purchased, 70 percent of the liquor licence application completed, and I've started interviewing for staff.

Can we finish this thing in a month?

My posts have not been regular, mostly because I feel like I'm drowning and sometimes I get scared and feel as though I can't face this challenge of building and executing a dream. It's a very surreal experience... it's strange. I'm not a builder and I can't help do any of the construction, but everyday I see something new in that space it starts to look more and more like Le Petit Bar, and I become more and more aware of how much work there is ahead of me. Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting anything done at all (this has to do with the not-being-able-to-contribute-to-the-building), and sometimes the energy spent thinking and planning the logistics of opening and operating a wine bar makes me feel as tired as if I had been doing the hard labour for eight hours. Well done, Tom and Gabe! After spending a weekend priming the space I can really appreciate how hard the work you do is. Let me rephrase that - I already did appreciate your work (you guys are fast... and really good), but I can physically feel it in my body today, and it really hurts. How did you drywall the ceiling and tape and mud it without breaking your necks?

There is a pile of things that need to be considered, questions that need to be answered, problems that need solutions, and, I'm sure, a whack of complications I haven't even thought about yet. These elements are sort of piled up on top of each other right now, waiting for element one to be sorted out before element two can be tackled, but two depends on the element before element one, but also on the element after element three... and so on... if I'm making any sense.

I know we'll get it all done. And I think you'll really like it once it's finished. I really hope you do!

Oh! Please check out this review of Midfield Wine Bar and Tavern in Toronto. My good friend Christopher Wilton (a wine agent with The Small Winemakers Collection) pointed me to this place. I'm hoping to visit Midfield this weekend. Sounds like they've really nailed the wine bar concept. 

And now, the most recent pics of Le Petit Bar:

The only booth in the joint. Located in the back corner. We think it'll be a favourite with customers

The bar is really starting to come together.

It feels more and more like Le Petit Bar every day

Roland tucks a time capsule I made into the back bar. It will be sealed in there, buried for, I hope, a good long while

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


 Here's a sneak peak at Le Petit Bar. Things are really happening now.

The temporary Le Petit Bar sign

You can see our bar and the back-bar coming together.

Back-bar cabinetry. Floor to ceiling. It will run right into the back corner of the bar. Imagine how great it will look with the library ladder!
Tom behind the bar
Gabe Robinson and Tom Reader are working exceptionally hard on this project for us. They are on it! If you want someone to build or renovate anything I totally recommend you contact Gabe Robinson Contracting.
This is the view from the small kitchen/prep area. You can barely see Gabe (left) and Tom (centre) in this shot.

Picturing myself behind the bar, serving delicious glasses of wine.

The above photos are of the plaster repair Tom did for us. This beam is a gorgeous feature of the space, and was a very welcomed surprise when we removed the drop ceiling. Can you see the white naked plaster on the right of the beam? Before this repair this part of the beam was a complete mess - the plaster and wood had started to fall apart, the rotting wood beam poking through the crumbling plaster. Tom spent hours re-plastering this beam and then made a tool to recreate the moulding. It looks great in these photos, and it looks even better now. Really amazing!

We have lots to do still - paneling, banquettes, tables, all before we can stain, paint and decorate. And I'm about to start experimenting with my own bitters for cocktails, writing the first draft of the wine list, and, of course, more and more recipe testing. Lots more to come...

Le Petit Bar Seeks Extraodinary Staff

We are accepting resumes. By e-mail only.

Le Petit Bar is hiring

We are looking for passionate, professional and charismatic individuals to staff our wine & charcuterie bar. All staff will be expected to bartend, wait tables and prep/assemble plates.

As an ideal candidate you are genuinely interested in wine and food. You appreciate all things gastronomic, especially the experience of dining out. You are creative, friendly and approachable, a proven team-player, and can demonstrate your ability to take initiative. You are serious about starting or maintaining your career in hospitality, and you want to learn.

Experience is an asset but not a requirement if you possess the right attitude and interest in our project. Must be Smart Serve certified.

Anticipated opening is spring 2012.

Cover letters and resumes accepted by e-mail only. Please send as Word doc attachments to Shannon at

Friday, 3 February 2012

Goodbye, Paris.

Clos Montmartre
I am home in Peterborough, and I've left a little piece of my heart in Paris.

The most rewarding thing about experiencing Paris was participating in its unique gastronomical culture. It's very alive in Paris as you might imagine, and far more laid back than you might expect.

Slicing ham at Le Garde Robe

I feel inspired, rejuvenated and a sense of affirmation. I think we can make Le Petit Bar feel like a little Parisian local... and I hope it becomes your corner zinc.

On our last day, we walked and walked and walked in search of a bar called Le Rubis.

Le Rubis

When you walk through the door at Le Rubis you immediately feel like you've entered a Parisian institution. It's clear this bar has been operating for ages, and is the favourite hangout of many locals. Again, it's a tiny place, with a beautiful zinc bar and multiple wines by the glass. It serves comfort food and charcuterie, and is like no bar or restaurant I've ever been to.

When we entered Le Rubis and I asked for a table for two we were sent upstairs, to the second floor "dining room". You access upstairs by stepping behind the bar, opening a very narrow door and following a tight, winding, wooden staircase to the second level. We were greeted  at the top of the stairs by a woman in a tiny kitchen with a man who appears to be the primary cook. The women, it becomes clear, serves and helps assemble the plates. She points us to a room that may be 12'x12' and rammed full of tables. Twenty-four seats, 12 tables of two, and less than an inch between each table. They are arranged in three rows, with 16 seats running parallel to each other in two rows of eight tables, and eight more seats (four tables) perpendicular to those 16, capping off the arrangement. A chalkboard lists the day's lunch options. I choose saucisse-lentilles, and it's a great choice. One nicely browned sausage served beside a heaping serving of puy-lentils braised in a rich stock with some carrot and onion, finished with a generous dollop of butter. It is very simple comfort food, and it's served to us shortly after we order it, along with a carafe of vin blanc - we think it may have been Muscadet.

I really couldn't take many photos in this place. We were elbow to elbow (literally) with our neighbours and it just felt too intimate for me to start snapping away. The place cleared out as we finished our lunch and I whipped out the camera to photograph my dessert, tarte tatin.

Tarte Tatin - Le Rubis

This place was the real deal - the service staff did not speak English and I am sure we were the only non-Parisians in the place. Visiting Le Rubis confirmed for me that a French bar a vins really is a local bar. It's not the American version of a wine bar - super chi-chi with high-end wines and delicate food.

Wine is a delicious drink. It, unfortunately, carries with it a strange stigma in our culture. It, for some ridiculous reason, it's often attached to snobbery or status. In France the bars a vins are like the local pub, but instead of five beers on tap you have five whites and five reds by the glass. Instead of, what we recognizes as, pub-grub you are served simple and hearty charcuterie. You go to the bar a vins to shoot the shit with your neighbours and friends, and your primary drink of choice is wine. We don't have a spot like this in Peterborough, yet. 

A glass at Baron Rouge

At Le Petit Bar you can expect a cozy and comfortable place to sit and relax. You can expect simple and filling charcuterie, intended to be shared with your friends. You can expect to sit relatively close to other patrons, and perhaps make a new friend each time you visit. You can expect ten wines by the glass, some cheap and cheerful, some elegant, some unique and interesting, and some meant for you to splurge on.

Visiting Paris confirmed for me what we are trying to do at Le Petit Bar. It also made me relax and think about how important it is to enjoy everyday, as corny as that may sound. You don't get a cup of coffee to go in Paris, and walk down the street gulping it before you get to your next destination. You set on a terrace, even in January, and people-watch while sipping your cafe. You take a coffee break. You spend a few hours after work over a glass or two of wine, unwinding before worrying about what you're going to eat for dinner (perhaps this is easier to do if you don't have a family!), and then you take your time when you finally sit down to dinner at 9 pm. It's a lifestyle that is a little foreign to us, and in some ways does seem impractical to my North American sensibilities, but it's also so very civilized!

Baguette - Marche Bastille
You can probably tell from my posts that Paris was a great experience. I've brought home with me fresh ideas, new energy, revitalized confidence and a few bottles of wine.

I've also made a realization about why why Parisians are so slim. It's quite simple, actually - you can't eat if you're too big to fit between the tables and into the dining room. You have to be slim by necessity, or you aren't eating anything anywhere.

(that's me)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Paris Markets

Marche Bastille et Marche Porte de Vanves

Today, Sunday, we spent the day wondering through the markets lining Paris's streets. We planned to visit Marche Bastille, perhaps the biggest outdoor food market in Paris, and stumbled upon markets on almost every block. Sunday is market day in Paris. Sunday is a good day.. Ahhhh... le marche...

I love farmer's markets. I love our market in Peterborough. Rarely a week goes by when I don't visit the market. I feel very lucky and proud to have our Peterborough Farmer's markets. We have really great markets in Peterborough, but I have to tell you nothing beats Marche Bastille.

Fresh seafood (scallops on the shell with their roe, langoustine, smelts, crab, oysters and whole fish) and meat (including Poulet de Bresse, the famous French breed of chicken with blue feet), cured meats, fromage!, flowers, fruit, vegetables, bread and pastries, prepared foods... what a market - what an experience!

I really feel like I got a taste of Paris life walking through this market, checking out all the beautiful produce, observing Parisian's going about their Sunday morning rituals, absorbing the atmosphere of the market and listening to the vendors singing about their wares, trying to draw customers.

I indulged in another pain au chocolat (when in Paris), and we stopped to to enjoy a mid-morning quiche snack. The next time I am here I am renting an apartment with a kitchen. My head was spinning thinking of all the marvelous things I could prepare with the beautiful ingredients at Marche Bastille.

Next stop was the Marche Porte de Vanves, an antiques market that stretches for blocks. I purchased a couple items that will look pretty fantastic on the walls of Le Petit Bar before we returned to Bastille (where we are staying), and enjoyed lunch in Place des Vosges. I don't have any photos of lunch - they like to pack you in tight (I love it!) which can make hauling out the camera to snap a photo of your steak frites difficult. The cafes, bistrots and brasseries are so bustling! The staff are run off their feet, customers are elbow to elbow,  food is flying out of the kitchens, carafes of wine splash on tables. It really is a unique and wonderful energy.

Now, after dinner in Marais, I am stuffed full of "duck shepherd's pie", or Parmentier de Canard - basically duck rilletes topped with creamy potato puree and baked with a light layer of cheese. Delicious.

Tomorrow is our last day here and I have a few bars a vins on the itinerary - Le Rubis and Verjus. We are going to visit Legrand, a legendary wine shop, and perhaps there will be time for another pain au chocolat and one more stroll through Montmartre...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Montmartre is awesome...

I've found my place in Paris. It's home to Basilique de Sacre-Coeur, Clos Montmartre, the city's only existing vineyard and winery, and Amelie. Montmartre. J'aime Montmartre.

Today we got lost in the cobblestoned, winding streets of Montmartre. Getting lost included stumbling upon an awesome patisserie and enjoying pain au chocolat, finding some cute local bars and drinking some lovely wine, and visiting Le Moulin Rouge.

Today we also visited two of Paris' most famous wine bars: Le Garde Robe and O-Chateau.

Le Garde Robe is incredible. Again, a tiny little cave in the wall. The staff work hard to serve about 40 people squeezed into less than 400 sq feet. Behind the bar they are serving drinks, slicing meat and assembling boards of charcuterie and cheese. Their little toaster oven works over time melting gorgeous hunks of chevre onto fresh pesto and thickly sliced bread, and warming baguette to serve with terrine and pate. Here we sampled porc rilletes, and glasses of Sancerre and Saint Joseph. The bartender opened a tin can of rilletes confit - preserved under a layer of fat - and tipped it out onto a plate, serving it to us with a tangle of radish and cucumber, and some crusty bread. It reminded me of Martin Picard's Au Pied du Chochon in Montreal - the duck in a can. It was quite cool.

We moved on to O-Chateau, a very up-scale wine bar, and a little rich for my blood. The wine selection is incredible, and includes 1998 Sauternes and 1979 Chateau Petrus - both by the glass! We didn't try either -  the more than 200 euro price tags were good deterrents. I did have a glass of Champagne followed by a Chardonnay flight: Vire-Classe (Clos du Chapite), Poully-Fuisse (Chateau des Rontets) and Chablis Premier Cru (Domaine Sarvin), and a glass of sweet Jurancon (Domaine de Souch) 2006 to finish.

Tomorrow is Sunday and many restaurants and bars will be closed. We are going to wander an antiques market and marche Bastille, one of Paris' biggest food markets. Only a couple days left in this city...