Le Petit Parisien respond to criticism

Note: This was left as a comment for the previous post, but I thought it deserved a post of its own. — Peter

Hello all.

My name is Matthew, and I am the FoH Supervisor at Le Petit Parisien.
I’ve been reading with horror some of the stories on this post, and would like to address some of the points raised, if I may.

Firstly, to Peter, the writer of this popular blog, you were correct that when we first opened, just over two weeks ago, we did not have any French or Belgian beer on tap.
Sadly, we are tied to Punch Taverns on our beers and ciders, and Punch’s only French beer is Kronenbourg, which we now stock in place of Carlsberg.
We also have (this morning in fact) installed Leffe Blonde, and Hoegarden, much to our excitement.

We are hoping to start a revolving selection of Real Ales (I am an enormous Real Ale fan), on our single beer engine, and some interesting Ciders on draft from the fridge. This will hopefully be ready by this weekend!

Thankyou for your well wishes, it does mean a lot to hear reserved judgement and constructive criticism! I am very glad that you enjoyed your steak baguette, we are very proud of the meat that our butcher provides- we have worked with him for many years.

Monkeycat: I am sorry that your Mixed Grill didn’t live up to your expectations.. The Parisien owner has assured me that it is something that one does see in authentic Parisien brasseries, and *I* can assure you that the grill is cleaned every evening, but I apologise if you way you were spoken to upset you- you’re quite right about us needing to listen to our customers!

Yak: Oh dear! There are only three staff members Front of House, including myself and the Owner, so it seems as though you
must have asked about the crepe to our young trainee barman.. I will arrange a staff meeting to discuss the menu in detail again. Also- I really do believe that our food does represent good value for money.. Everything we produce is fresh, made on the premises, and never frozen (well apart from the frites and the ice cream 😉 !).
Our Nicoise Salad has a fresh tuna steak on top, our Cote de Boeuf is over 1kg for sharing between two people and can be cut with a butter knife! I do hope you try us again soon, and haven’t been put off completely!

Copeywolf: I don’t really know what you mean by saying that we’re a gimmick.. We’re owned by a Frenchman (the ’small
parisien’ himself), and our Chefs are both French, one from Paris and the other from Algeria. I assure you they all speak French! I do not speak much French, but the Owner is teaching me slowly! We do now have Punch’s only French beer, as discussed above, and I can whole heartedly assure you that none of our food is ‘plain crepe’, unless you ask for one 😉 .

Vix: I’m so sorry! You seem to have had a dreadful experience! I suppose your feelings about the painting, interior design, and the staff are subjective, but I’m sorry that you hate it so much.. I am confused about how you could have waited an hour for an omelette(!), and have been told there was no sparkling water when we have cases and cases of it downstairs. This is all a mystery to me. However, it is entirely likely that our barman hadn’t heard of a St Clements, or even bitter lemon. He is young and has not worked anywhere before in his life. However, what he might have lacked two weeks ago in knowledge he makes up for in enthusiasm and hard work. We are giving him a chance and training him up; ‘Employ enthusiasm and teach skills!’, my father used to say!

Just a couple more things before I go (for fear of monopolising this post!!): I think Mark Dodds is right about hitting the ground running. We have experienced teething problems, and we are ironing them out. We are planning on rolling out some new menu items (FISH!!), a cocktail list and NHS discounts. We are also going to start opening our upstairs room for private hire, doing live Jazz on Sunday evenings, and getting our Algerian Head Chef to prepare delicious Cous Cous nights.

One last thing: It is very easy to read and write bad reviews of a place online. I speak to as many customers as I can, and as far as I can tell, nearly all of them are very happy.. I really am sorry for the bad experiences that some of you have had, and appreciate that some people won’t like that way we have decorated the place, but we DO care about what people think, and WILL respond to your feedback, so come in and see me (I’m the ‘non-french’ speaking guy with red hair) and we can have a a glass of wine and a chat.

Thanks for your feedback, hopefully I will have the time to be a regular visitor to the Camberwell blogosphere (I have lived in Camberwell myself for almost 4 years).

Sorry for taking up so much room!


Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

169 thoughts on “Le Petit Parisien respond to criticism”

  1. Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond; it’s very honest of you to face up to the somewhat harsh criticism. I look forward to trying LPP out for dinner soon.

  2. I was a big fan of the Dark Horse and a big fan of food in general. Its good to hear such an honest response and I look forward to giving Le Petit Parisien a visit in the near future.

  3. Top marks on the response Matthew. I’m a Camberwell Grove resident and after reading this, I’ll head in soon and reserve judgement for myself.

    Good luck with the place and no doubt see you soon.

  4. WELL done Matthew, good call. It’s really good for you to have such an upfront grip so soon and is really the sort of thing Camberwell needs. Everyone reading this blog will appreciate your frankness and come back for more. Errr especially in my case, for le cote de boeuf.

    So keep it up and make sure you deliver — we want/need you to be good!

    Look closely at your tie contract and see if there’s any mileage in taking advantage of a clause which states that they may allow out of tie purchases in instances when they are not able to supply products you can prove a demand for among your customers. Worht a shot. AND, believe me, they need you as much as Camberwell does, so you have some bargaining power. Believe me — you really do.

  5. Good on you Matthew for the measured response. You clearly know your onions and care enough to steer the bateau safely into open water.

    Teething problems are inevitable and most people are fine with that. But in my honest opinion you compromised on too much to begin with. Maybe you underestimated how fussy and fickle some of the target audience can be?

    The fact the chefs are French does not mean they can cook, nor does the fact that the owner is French mean they can recreate the brasserie experience. For me, the best things you could do would be:

    Make the formal dining area less formal and so more versatile. Haphazard even? Good for just some drinks and small plates as well as the full cote de boeuf.

    Try to make some, if not all of it, more romantic. Vague, even silly, I know. Just what I think. A table or two that are snuggle-friendly, spacing of tables, lighting (inside and out) etc. Was there any female input in the choice of layout/decor? And do you have any dangly lights? Got to have dangly lights somewhere!

    Address the range of drinks as previously mentioned.

    Don’t let the chefs send food out that you or they wouldn’t appreciate being served yourselves.

    Sort out the paint job at some point.

    I look forward to giving Le PP another try soon and will rant/heap praise accordingly!

  6. Matthew — what a refreshing and frank post! Thanks so much for a measured and balanced response which I can imagine would have been very easy not to do. Good luck with training up your staff and sorting out the teething issues.

  7. Wow! Loads of bad reviews (crap food, rude service), yet all the supervisor of LPP has to do is write one vaguely conciliatory e‑mail and now everyone’s rushing back. Hilarious.

  8. Peter is clearly abusing his position by angling for a free dinner.

    Typically disgraceful antics of a limousine liberal.

  9. @Norman: I think it’s commendable of Matthew to address the critics, and of the critics to agree to try it out again; certainly better than LPP ignoring the issue, and the critics never going back again after one bad experience.

    @Alan: I make no effort to disguise my pursuit of dining free throughout Camberwell; to no avail as of yet, unfortunately. Local restaurateurs: a free meal (and wine) guarantees a good review. Contact me at the usual address.

  10. I’ve always admired Peter’s abuse of his power. And would do exactly the same in his place.

    LPP? — Watch this space.

  11. Perhaps grumpy-old-men, Muppet-Show grumbling syndrome is a suitably fumbling, bumbling methane-powered method of de-girling this website. Until NOW, my fine, hairy-arsed friends!

    Let’s have a simper! Battersea Park is a joy at this time of year. Chelsea Flower Show is on, so the car parks are crammed with Cayennes. Their owners pay dear for the day’s park up. Clearly, the crunch has not affected the critical mass of the systemically thickened middle class for whom the Flower Show is a must-go bore, by the looks of their cardiac faces.

    One of them dropped a business card for “Class Chandeliers”, who have a website under that name. This amused me and a Dagmarette, as we shambled around like McKellen and his mate in the play. Maybe Branston’s Virgin Airlines should introduce a Chandelier Class.

    If every other car parked is a Cayenne, every other one is a Range Rover and not just some diesel but a recently registered HSE Sport. Speaker Martin may have been scapegoated today like some shot-dead wildlife critter in the Highlands, but boy does the agricultural show go on in the shires. Oh, bring on the Bullingdon Club boys! Bully for them! Tally ho! We deserve to be whipped by the Moseley brigade after deserting Labour and what they have done for 10 years. We are in for a spanking. Yoicks!

    It is a relief to come back to old Camberwell after a day in heavy-bourgeois Battersea. We have a lot to be grateful for — there is a light-heartedness here that is rare and a mixedness that is the spice of life. Bonne chance au Petit Pain! Let them live and let live, thrive and change. Laissez-faire! Bring on the Django Reinhardt and Anais Nin-themed waitresses. I may volunteer there myself! The frill of everyfing French! The guillotine has fallen on mediocrity! Snap! CLUNK! Avanti popolo! Viva! Arriba! Hee-hah!

  12. Sorry for the change of topic, but unfortunately, just learned of the following:

    The Licensing Sub-Committee having considered the application by Power Leisure Bookmarkers Limited in respect of non-track betting premises licence at Paddy Powers, 2 Coldharbour Lane, London, SE5 have made the following decision:

    The application to be granted.”

  13. Interesting reading about LPP — we walked past it the other day and thought it a little incongruous. Maybe I shall pop by for a drink and a steak-frites before long.

    Has anyone checked out the new Turkish place on Church Street, FM Mangal? I had a menu thrust into my hands and it looks more restaurant than kebab shop — I’m looking forward to trying it out.

  14. @Jason: There’s obviously a need for it; the market is driven by customer demand, remember?

    @Rob: Was put off going in there by the dirty great kebab skewer in the window, but the reports have left me curious; I’ll try it out one day.

  15. @southmark Yes, at Parliament yesterday for the Fair Pint Lobby Day. Great day, lots of publicans and lots of MPs. Some photographs of it soon.

  16. From what I can see they are reopening a bookies. Better an open bookies than a boarded up bookies.

  17. Oh Great!

    Another Cunt of a betting shop…

    That’s progress!

    No apologies for the fruity language either…

  18. Intriguingly, near the mysterious Selborne village enclave, the Gnostic Movement has established a new centre at 59B Denmark Hill Road. Here, they lead sessions in astral flying, positive dreaming, retrospective meditation and out of body experiences. No, this is not a pub! This is the meeting place of an esoteric sect. We should be flattered that this non-betting-shop organisation has chosen Camberwell for its location in the scheme of things. Perhaps the ley lines are right and the Camberwell well well positioned and zinging with reviving negative ions. The Gnostics were persecuted from the first century onwards and even accused of ceremonial sex-magic practices. Then, in the 1970s, the scrolls of the Gospel of Judas were discovered, bearing witness to the fact that Judas agreed with Jesus to shop him to the fascist Romans, without which there could undeniably be no execution and resurrection — indeed, Judas knew Christ better than any of the apostles, they say, and is far from being some FIFA-briefed dodgy referee. Ah, the mist thickens. Ethereal lute strings are plucked, harps trill, gnostics fly over Camberwell at night in diaphanous garments. The spell of midsummer night will surely lure us like moths to its flame…

  19. Indeed, Eusebiomate, the lush, juicy lure of the fig, the pomegranate, ah, the tang of sea salt in the shell, the rushing river of Lethe sweeping us to ecstasy and beyond…

  20. @peter — no point getting a free meal (or free anything) if you are in the media game. Better to pay your way and say what you mean.

    @eusebiomate — know what you mean, but that word is best avoided.

    @dagmarmate — you are a pleasure to read.

    @no-one-in-particular — i am loving how its summer. Isnt this part of town a great place to live and hang out in summer?

  21. @Gabe: To have journalistic integrity, you need to be a journalist. I’m just a blogger, with the needs and desires of every other blogger. Free meals, drinks, cash, book tokens, milk coupons, all gratefully accepted.

  22. Summer beckons. Get planning for Carnaval del Pueblo inburgess Park and Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park.

    Other highlights include Jerk Chicken Cook Off in Horniman Gardens and something in Lucas Gardens. What is the Lucas Gardens thing?

  23. @Dagmar — ceremonial sex-magic, eh? Fenella Fielding in Carry On Screaming comes to mind!

  24. Have just returned from the bank and thought I’d walk across the green.

    Dog shit all over, beer cans on the newly laid rose garden and a parking cone on the memorial.

    It is a bloody disgace, people who do this should have their genitalia removed.

  25. RE Acorn on corner of Coldharbour Lane and Denmark Hill — opposite GX Gallery and Nandos, diagonally opposite payday loans and next door to Subway.

    I objected to it becoming a betting shop so I got a letter from Southwark planning saying it’s going to be a betting shop. It’s Paddy Power by the way.

    Taking a leaf out of Chunters lexicon ” It’s a bloody disgrace etc balls cut off”

  26. I saw a white squirrel in St Giles Churchyard yesterday. It seemed quite at home and not that scared of people. Perhaps it’s a resident. Have any SE5 nature lovers seen it too and taken any pictures?

  27. @peter fair point, you need an angle

    Re. camberwell green — dare you to walk on the grass! There was a cleaning squad there this morning carting off sacks of bottles and take-away cartons, so it was ok. Play area strewn with broken glass though.

    Picked up stuff for a pic nic from Cruzon and Sophlocles. Now waiting for the kids outside the Leisure center and catching some serious rays. Wicked sun trap.

  28. @Matt

    I haven’t seen the white squirrel you refer to, but there was another in the neighbourhood a little time ago. We saw it in our garden and the surrounding area over a period of a few years. (We live quite close to St Giles.) I also recall that a few years ago a baby white squirrel was found in a drey in Peckham, and was nick-named Persil.

  29. I saw a white squirrel about ten years ago, and another about four years ago. Squirrels live for quite a long time, so it could even have been the same one.

  30. We popped into PP today with Layla’s parents for lunch and were very impressed. Since our first visit, which we reviewed on the Gay Camberwell website, there has been a huge improvement. The food was excellent (the breakfast was especially well received) and the service was impeccable. At this rate, PP could turn into one of Camberwell’s best food options. We’ve blogged about it today: http://www.gaycamberwell.com/gc-blog.html and will be returning for dinner to revise our review.

  31. Went to FM Mangal on Saturday night, and was very impressed. It is now my new favourite Camberwell eatery.

    Tarama and hellim were both excellent, although only duff note was a spring-roll sized boregi (borek) which was nuclear hot and four of them were too big for a starter — even as a sharer.

    Lamb beyti was very good, with nicely-flavoured meat and plenty of yoghurt. Came with rice, in the traditional way, which was cooked just right.

    Baklava a bit drier than I liked, but went well with Turkish coffee.

    And all for a very reasonable £35 for two with beers and soft drinks.

  32. Mangals is nice. I posted on the wrong thread.

    Tadim remake is too stark. Food nowhere near as good as Mangals.

    Keen to support Spice of Life but every time I try to we’d be the only people in there.

  33. By the time we left FM Mangal, about 34 of all the upstairs tables were taken, which I think is good considering it was a warm evening for dining indoors.

  34. We went to le Petit Parisien on Saturday and were very impressed.

    Although we werent unimpressed on the opening night it did seem a bit disorganised.

    On Saturday however it was much more slick with attentive waiters and the food was excellent. Only problem was the seating in the bar area which I find rather uncomfortable — I think they inherited from the Dark Horse. This is only a minor problem however.

  35. I, too, have recently been to FM Mangal and I’m pleased to say I had a delicious and authentic meal. Do give it a try.

    I know what you mean about Spice of Life, Phil G. I havn’t tried it yet, despite the fact that the food has to be better than Safa these days.

  36. With all the restaurant & pub talk on here, Peter should definitely be eating & drinking for free in Camberwell.

    I’m holding out for the alleged vegetarian, wholefood cafe to open on Bellenden Road.

  37. I’m not a fan of Safa. It’s passable but it’s a shame it gets so much trade when other places are quieter.

  38. We went to spice of life when it first opened (a year-ish ago I guess).

    Food was good, (very) slightly above average.

    Ridiculously expensive though — especially with wine. I think it came to about 80 quid — I can eat in the west end for that.

    Possibly that’s why it’s always empty! Haven’t been back since.

    *Still* waiting for the tapas y cerveza place to open. 2.5 years and waiting …

  39. @Robp: Agreed food ok, but very much lacking in atmosphere, and expensive for what you get. If you want good Indian jump on the bus and go to Mela in Herne Hill. Not as good as the 3 Monkeys was, but still very good.

  40. JJ’s is good and less expensive, but for food Ganapati is better.

    More quality, refinement, invention.

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