Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm
Max Hauser is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Another good comprehensive look at a local one-of-a-kind restaurant. Petit Bistro has a loyal following of local regulars who appreciate its unpretentious comfort-food style and decent value.
A distinction of this restaurant, worth emphasis I think, is how it contrasts with mainstream 20th-century perceptions of US French restaurants, which (along with imperious headwaiters and intimidating prices) often featured prestigious, "high" cuisine, using rare ingredients (or ersatz imitations of them). But that's not the cooking usually eaten, then or now, at restaurants in France, or made at home there. Everyday, moderately-priced restaurants in France tend toward limited menus and traditional, comforting dishes -- "cuisine bourgeoise." Demonstrating daily what historian Karen Hess concluded in the "The Taste of America" (Viking, 1977): the real history of cooking consisted mainly of housewives creating something interesting from ingredients the gentry wouldn't touch. A previous Voice-Weekly review of Le Petit Bistro (link below) dwelt on this distinction.
(The Julia Child quip makes me want to converse some time with Dale Bentson about US cooking history. The quip was good, though in passing it unfortunately fed pop-culture misconceptions of JC's role. In the 1960s she was the latest of 150 years of Americans to "popularize French cooking among the American public." Best-selling US cookbook authors had been doing that since 1832, they just weren't on TV.)