Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

New Petite A La Carte a small-plate, fine-dining wine bar

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A new restaurant on Christina Street is offering Sarnians a little taste of gourmet with a helping of big-city ambience.

Co-owners Mike Service and Pat Havlik opened Petite A La Carte on July 5 with a specific market in mind. They call their place a small-plate, fine-dining wine bar.

Portions are small and intended to be ordered with other menu items, each priced individually.

A four-ounce beef wellington, for instance, costs $19, significantly less than a full-sized six or seven-ounce portion served with vegetables and garnish you might find in other restaurants.

Instead, Petite A La Carte offers a couple of potato choices including the $7 loaded rösti that comes with sour cream, bacon bits, chives and smoked applewood cheddar.

Vegetable lovers might order the Buffalo Cauliflower served with gorgonzola dipping sauce for $7.

In all, the appetizers and mains menu (the same for lunch and dinner) has 19 choices ranging from seared scallops ($14), stuffed chicken breast ($14), and veal marsala ($14) to crab stuffed mushrooms ($8), arancini ($11), seared tuna ($11) and more.

“We are familiar with this concept because we’ve experienced it in larger cities like Toronto,” said Service. “It suits us and we think it will suit a lot of people who find they don’t want that big plate that you just end up taking with you in a doggy bag.

“We like more realistic-sized portions and a greater variety that allows us to keep prices lower and still offer fine dining.”

Havlik said she had female friends in mind when coming up with the concept.

“There are not a lot of places where women want to eat in Sarnia. They are usually giving in to the men who want to go to a pub or sports bar,” she said.

“What we find is that the men are coming in with the women, of course, and are really enjoying it too.”

Smaller portions appeal to women, as does the jazz, kept at a low volume to accommodate easy conversation.

“We find a lot of places we go to are too loud. Here you can talk and the tables aren’t too close together,” said Service, who has 35 years in the hospitality industry and has helped open 12 other restaurants. This is the first of his own.

Havlik, his wife, has an IT background and brings a love of cooking.

“I consider myself pretty good in the kitchen,” she said. “My forte here was menu design, then I handed it over to the chef.”

Chef Vanessa Lobodzinski is from B.C. and a culinary instructor for the PC cooking school.

Petite A La Carte is located at 170 Christina St. North, right next to the Imperial Theatre. What was formerly a pizzeria has been completely transformed with powder blue walls, refinished hardwood floors, white linen and a bar stocked with higher-end wines, spirits and beer.

There’s seating for 67 inside and another 10 on the patio overlooking the street.

Petite A La Carte is open daily except Sundays and Mondays. Reservations are recommended. Call 519-491-1907.

Got a great business story?  Send it to [email protected].

More like this