March 16, 2012
New lease, new locale: Bistro La Petite France moves to Folsom

EK LA PETITE FRANCE6818.jpgMany fans of the cooking and warm, friendly environment at Bistro La Petite France in Granite Bay have been upset to learn that their beloved restaurant has closed, albeit not for good.

But because of a issues regarding the lease, the husband-and-wife team of Christophe and Claudine Erhart were compelled to close the bistro and find a new location. By the first week in April or thereabouts - after plenty of heavy lifting, scrubbing and painting - the couple expect to reopen in Historic Old Folsom.

Explains Christophe: "We had been trying to renogiate the lease with our landlord. It just wasn't going anywhere. In order to continue to do what we wanted to do, it was just too difficult. Claudine and I are really hurt. We loved that place. This created a whole brouhaha in Granite Bay. Granite Bay is not happy about us leaving. We had people with tears in their eyes when we told them.

"We're turning away 12-15 reservations a day because people don't know we're closed."

The uproar is understandable. If you're not familiar with the bistro, this is part of what I wrote in my review a year ago: "Here, you will find everything from escargot nestled onto mushroom caps sauteed in garlic butter, to a classic rack of lamb with a Dijon mustard crust, and, for Sunday brunch, a variety of crepes savory or sweet, omelets handled with great care, and a croissant as light and flaky as anything we can remember.

"A visit to Bistro La Petite France is like stepping into a quaint little bistro in one of those little villages where all the rooftops are the same color, dogs sleep outside storefronts, grizzled old men ride rickety bicyclettes, and the pursuit of food and wine is a focal point of daily life."

Although it's a tough loss for the dining crowd in and around Granite Bay, Old Folsom seems like a great fit for the bistro. It will likely attract more walk-in traffic, especially for lunch. Before or after dinner, visitors can go for a pleasant stroll because the area has several other attractions, including restaurants, bars and shops.

Folsom, it turns out, has suddenly become a destination for French bistro cooking. Daniel Pont, formerly of the famous La Bonne Soupe in downtown Sacramento, sold his lunch-only business and retired, only to realize he wasn't finished as a chef. He opened Chez Daniel in Folsom. It's now dinners only.

Bistro La Petite France will be on Sutter Street in a building, Christophe says, that used to house My Brother Vinnie's, then Balcony Bistro. The original restaurant on the site was called Lanza's. There is a banquet room that seats 45, the main restaurant with room for 40 (Granite Bay had 32), along with a large patio overlooking Sutter Street.

The bistro closed its doors in Granite Bay on Feb. 26 and expects to be open in time for Easter Sunday on April 8. Stay tuned for updates as opening day approaches.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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