Zut alors, we’ve found a Parisian in the middle of Ecclesfield.
We should have put our trust in the cafe’s name, believed in the authenticity of its interior - the fresh rosebuds on every round bistrot table, framed black and white images of the city of romance adorning chic black walls.
As we perused a menu boasting tartines - open French sandwiches, classic French salads, pate, macaroons croque monsieur - we should have believed in Le Petit Cafe.
But cynicism led us to expect nothing more than a Gallic nod in an otherwise full English experience. So what a surprise it was when a brunette, late fifties, surely, Bardot type purred: “‘Ave yoo made a decision yet?”
Paris born and raised, Christine Gloppe opened the cafe two years ago. Regulars adore the place. During the day they come for the excellent coffee, the glass-domed cakes made by talented local home-bakers, and a light dejeuner. On Friday nights they rush for tapas (three courses, £17) and they wait impatiently for the occasional £21.50 Saturday night bistro or wine and cheese events.
What brought Christine to South Yorkshire? L’amour, of course. Her partner lives in Sheffield. She saw potential in the tiny cottage, latterly a chip shop and a photographer’s studio.
Christine, who for a hobby teaches locals how to perfect their French, needs no help with her English. It’s immaculate, honed during her years as a deputy head of a prep school in Sussex.
She perfected her culinary and hospitality skills in Majorca, where she ran a restaurant for ten years.
That explains the attention to detail, the high level of service and the beautiful presentation of every dish; Le Petit Cafe is no ordinary little cafe.
The Husband had chosen Mediterranean meatballs (£6.25) from the specials blackboard; small, meltingly soft and in a richly flavoured tomato sauce, they were accompanied by a hand-made potato salad and toasted baby rolls.
My croque monsieur (£4.75) came on a white platter with pots of ratatouille, quinoa and a lively dressed salad. All delicious - though while the croque oozed quality ham and a good, creamy cheese sauce, there was little crunch. It was a toasted monsieur, as opposed to one dipped in beaten egg and fried. Though I’m not complaining; it was a much healthier version - which meant I could also eat cake.
I opted for a £1.95 blueberry and raspberry drizzle, a sweet, unctuous, syrup-sozzled slice bottomed with soft, tart fruit. He chose the £2.35 cappuccino cake, deeply dark, though as light as the sponge in a Black Forest Gateau, with whipped coffee cream atop. Both looked a picture on plates dressed with feathered circlets of creme Anglais, fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
We didn’t say goodbye - we bade Christine au revoir.
When and where:
Le Petit Cafe
1a Church Street, Ecclesfield, S35 9WE
Tel: 07817 253858
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 10.30am-4pm
My star ratings out of five: