Byron Bay. A place to love and revere for many reasons. The beaches, the surf, the people, the vibe and of course – the food! I don’t know if I spend more time eating or beaching when I’m at Byron. It’s a tough contest. We have of course our favourite day to day can’t go past places, and then there are the special occasion standouts, and naturally we’re always keen to try a new venture.
So why do we keep on coming back to The Petit Snail for our special occasion meals? It’s just that damn good. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
A small and unassuming place on Carlyle Street, The Petit Snail is run by Chef Igor Persan and a specialised team of friendly, knowledgeable staff.
With a small but competent wine list, there is something perfect to match each dish on the menu with a good variety from both Australia and France.
To start the evening’s taste tour I couldn’t go past the Noix de St Jacques aux poireaux (fresh scallops with leeks confit) as an entrée. Incredibly fresh, cooked to perfection and the leek was a wonderful accompaniment. Monsieur had escargots de bourgogne (snails in garlic butter). How could one go past snails at a French restaurant? Locally grown, the snails were flavoursome bites of garlicky heaven. We wonder why they aren’t served up more often around town.
In between courses our palates were renewed with little dishes of sorbet. Merlot for him and chardonnay for me. This is the only place I’ve had wine flavoured sorbets and the bursts of subtle flavour were a wonder to behold. I love a place that takes so much pride in their food that they like to offer a palate cleanser between courses. There aren’t too many places like this in our part of the world.
For mains I always have to have the bouillabaisse d’antibes (fresh Moreton Bay bugs, prawns, clams, mussels, baby octopus and fish poached in saffron scented rock fish soup). Aromatic and heaven sent, the huge array of very fresh seafood is a sight to behold and a delight to the belly. With every mouthful I end with a beatific smile of satisfaction on my face. How many dishes can offer that?
Monsieur enjoyed canard à l’orange sanguine (twice cooked duck legs with blood orange and Grand Marnier). A typical French style dish, done exceedingly well. The perfect mix of rich meat and delicately flavoured sauce served with two vegetables of the day.
The menu also offers some seriously to die for sounding dishes for two, if ordered ahead. Get your taste buds around pan fried foie gras, Swiss or beef fondue, jugged hare, wild rabbit stew, or pheasant with wild mushrooms.
The dessert list offers classic French staples, including some beautiful cheeses. But for us we can’t go past the theatrics of crêpes Suzette flambés au Grand Marnier. Simple, tasty and an exciting way to finish off what is always a winning meal.
For those inclined, Igor Persan also offers cooking classes that you can tailor to your own desires. And for those who like to dabble in their French cookery at home he also publishes some of his much longed for recipes on their website.
We’re clearly not the only ones who adore this little slice of foodie heaven on our doorsteps. The Petit Snail is continually receiving awards for best French restaurant, not only in NSW but through all of Australia! Quite the claim to fame.
So do yourself a favour. Next time you’re overnighting in Byron, check out The Petit Snail. Your tastebuds will thank you.
The Petit Snail is located at 5 Carlyle St, Byron Bay NSW 2481.