The French are known to be an arrogant bunch. Cheese eating surrender monkeys (Groundkeeper Willie's words, not mine) who spend more time going on strike than they do going to the toilet. Last time I checked I think they'd got their working week down to about 18 hours and they still weren't happy. Having said all that they know how to cook good food, live life well and they especially know how to make a good ham and cheese sambo. See in Ireland if I want a ham and cheese sambo I go to my local Spar / Londis / Centra and they serve me a shitty frozen roll, with grated plastic cheese and ham that actually has more water in it than ham. We tolerate shit food in a way the French never would.
Luckily, there are a couple of outliers in this country when it comes to good French food. One of the best examples is Le Petit Parisien who have two outlets in the city. Lets call a spade a spade here and admit that they have taken huge inspiration from the Paul (worst name for a bakery ever?) chain in the UK. What they've done though is managed to package a French style bakery beautifully and when I walk in there as I do most weekends it feels like stepping into a little bakery in Antibes. The art that they put into their presentation is a thing of absolute beauty and as you stand looking at the counter the only thing that runs through your head is "fuck, the diet that can start tomorrow."
I go for one thing only. The ham and cheese sambo. You see, they make all the bread and pastries in the basement of their Wicklow Street shop and I'd say it is the best baking happening in Ireland right now. There is nothing in my sambo except baguette, real ham and real cheese with a little smear of butter. Thats it. No sun dried tomatoes, no bullshit garnish, no chipotle mayo. They give you what you ask for and the quality is absolutely outstanding. There is as much love that goes into their bread as goes into making an Audi A8 or one of Jony Ive's designs for a new iPhone. It is crunchy, tasty and delicious in a way that no other bread in this country is.
I don't know much about the plans behind the business but everything about it screams that it is ready for franchising or rolling out to many more locations. The slick little black uniforms. The meticulous standards they keep across both locations and the polished branding. I'm actually a big fan of chains like Wagamama or Jamie's Italian when they are done right. I can only hope that they plan to open one of these places in every village in Dublin and within shopping centres and anywhere else it would make commercial sense to do so. It would make Ireland a better place.
Little special bonus marks for having a TV showing Sunday football in the Dame Street place. It allows you to show a thoughtful side by taking a loved one to a great brunch spot and feigning mock surprise when you see the game is on and you strategically position yourself to watch it. The French know good food and I'm just glad we've imported a little of it here.