Petit Robert in Kenmore Square

Went to Petit Robert in Kenmore Square a couple of weeks ago after an acquaintance raved about it as a “real”, everyday French bistro. The experience was indeed a nice change of pace from the stiffer places in the South End, and price-wise it is more in the everyday range. Both factors seemed to be reflected in the clientele, which was much more mixed than those other places, and included families with children and more younger couples.

But unfortunately food-wise the restaurant as a whole didn’t particularly impress. Which is kind of too bad, because the service was quite good, as was the presentation. I started with the vegetable paté and A had smoked herring filets. Apparently I was feeling hungry, because I also ordered the potato and leek soup and the “garlicky salsify and parsnips persillé”. All of them were fine but nothing special, although the latter was surprisingly tasteless and must go down on record as the least parsnip-tasting parsnips we’ve even eaten.

For our entrees A had the calf’s liver which was cooked well but disappointing due to its sauce being too vinegary; he also found it odd that all the entrees came with the same sides. I had the crispy lentil cake, which had a sort of bubble and squeak feel to it, but was decidedly not crispy; but I appreciated it anyway, seeing as how vegetarian options are few and far between. We ended with the pumpkin tarte (a special) which was, like much of the meal, on the bland side. Although we both appreciated the effort to provide Boston with a more casual French bistro dining experience (in the fairly restaurant-less Kenmore Square at that) and although the meal itself was fine, on the whole this just isn’t a place we’re likely to come back to in a hurry.

Apparently they’ve also opened a location in the South End. It looks like The Globe has reviewed both locations twice (not sure why), all of which seem to be fairly complimentary. The reviews on Yelp, which are less glowing, seem to be more accurate in general, a difference between the two sources that I’ve been more aware of lately.

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