Monday, January 30, 2012

French Movie Night Series at Petite Jacqueline: The Perfect Sunday Night Out

 image from

Ok, so those who know me may giggle to read my very excited post about something as fancy-sounding as a French movie night at a French bistro. But let me tell you, you don't need to be a fancy girl to attend Petite Jacqueline's french movie night. A pseudo tomboy,* I don't cook (unless boiling pasta counts?), I barely clean, I can't walk in heels, I drink too much cheap beer, I eat way too much pizza, and I have a hard time getting through the day without uttering words that might make a grown man blush. Not fancy in the least. However, I attended this "fancy-sounding" event last night and I still can't stop smiling. Pure loveliness.

*I don't dress like a boy. I don't play sports. But I am basically just too lazy to be feminine in a traditional sense. 

Sundays have unofficially become "date night" for me and my roommate Kelley. Both busy girls with full time jobs, Sunday seems to be our only mutual free night to hang out. Upon hearing about the French movie series a few weeks ago, Kelley and I both wanted to check it out. They screen a different movie every Sunday, and you sit at lovely little bistro tables, sipping on French wines and eating delightful dishes the whole film through. Despite our desire to go, we'd sadly let Saturday night's antics get the best of us, and instead wound up on our couches the past two Sundays, doomed to bumdom. This week, Kelley decided to be proactive and made us reservations at Petite Jacqueline. Today's permasmile is proof that this was a fantastic move.

We grabbed dinner elsewhere,* then headed to Petite Jacqueline around 7:30. The movies start at 8 but the hostess had recommended we come a little early so we could place our orders before it began. I'd never been inside the bistro before, and upon walking in, immediately liked it. The lighting was low, but not too low, the french artwork was a nice touch, and the music wasn't too loud. When we arrived they had just set up the movie screen with three rows of candlelit tables. It looked very--you guess it---fancy. I'd show you a picture, but for the first time in maybe two years, I left my iPhone at home. Rats!

*I had to use up a Groupon at Amigo's....not my favorite Portland Mexican spot, in case you were wondering. Unless you have a Groupon, too, I'd stick to drinks

Kelley and I took our seats and the server came over to grab our beverage order. (Note: the servers all wear striped shirts. I saw this over the summer and thought it was kind of cheesy, I've since changed my mind. I think it is rather charming upon a second look.) We brilliantly ordered a half carafe each of their house rose, causing the server to politely ask us if we wouldn't rather split a whole carafe. Smart girls. We did split the whole carafe and the rose was delicious. We also placed our orders for dessert (I got the crème brûlée, $6 and Kel ordered pot de crème au chocolat, $7). Still full from our Mexican feast, the server arranged it so our treats would come about half an hour into the movie.

While the more casual diner (or moviegoer) might think this all sounds a little too much for them, it's not. I did not wear my fancy girl disguise. Quite the contrary: I donned my typical oversized L.L. Bean flannel. No one seemed to care or notice. The servers are knowledgeable but not pretentious. They don't expect you to speak French. We asked a few times how to say different things, still failed to say them correctly, and unless one slipped past me, no eye rolls from our server.

The movie of the night was Julie and Julia. Though I adore Meryl Streep (I have half a brain and a heart, don't I?), I had missed this one back in 2009. As previously mentioned, I'm not the most feminine of girls. As a result, I tend to skip over movies that look too "chick flicky." Yes, yes, I sometimes suffer from a slight case of Cool Girl Disease and claim to hate all chick flicks. Confession: I've probably seen Never Been Kissed more than any other self-respecting woman on the planet, and last week I spent two nights alone on my couch surfing "romantic comedies" on Netflix. So yeah, I'm mostly full of shit. Anyway, Kel had seen Julie and Julia and assured me I'd like it.

Like it I did! It really isn't a chick flick at all--it's just a plain ole feel good movie. Maybe I got carried away by the atmosphere Petite Jacqueline so expertly crafted--or maybe I'd had too much rose, but I definitely teared up several times throughout the movie (in a happy way!). Of course Meryl delighted and impressed throughout and Stanley Tucci was consistently wonderful as her douting husband. I also enoyed Amy Adams' story--most likely because it's about the rise of one aspiring writer's blog. Regardless of the reasons, I couldn't stop smiling the entire film through. The film choice really blended perfectly to the entire feel of Petite Jacqueline's Movie Night. The bistro even pairs their food specials to match the film's theme; last night's menu featured boeuf bourguignon (a Julia Child staple) and upside-down martinis (Amy Adams' character's signature drink). I didn't order either, but they both looked delicious.

When our desserts came, I was fully engrossed in watching Julie try (and often fail) several Julia Child recipes. I was ready for my crème brûlée . And what a crème brûlée it was! First of all, it was huge. For a girl with a sweet tooth as strong as mine, this was beyond exciting. But not as exciting as the party my tastebuds were treated to. If you're a crème brûlée  fan, order this!  If you aren't, Petite Jacqueline's may convert you. For a nontraditional gal, I like to keep things surprisingly simple when it comes to this dessert. Vanilla bean was perfect. I realize their menu is subject to change and I would willingly try any other type of crème brûlée these folks whip up, but I have a feeling I'll be craving their vanilla bean recipe from here on out. Thanks Petite Jacqueline for providing me with yet another unhealthy vice.

Since I loved my wine and dessert so much, I think next time I'll get dinner. They have a three course Prix Fixe for $30. Despite being constantly broke, this seems very reasonable given the quality and the service. Or maybe I'll just ask my mom to come with me next time so she'll foot the bill. Just kiddin' Ma...but seriously, if you want to go...

And while this event may be the perfect mother-daughter outing or girls night out, date nights shouldn't be ruled out. I did notice everyone at last night's screening was in fact female--it could have something to do with this particular evening's movie choice or maybe just the idea of attending a French Movie Night on Sunday sounds unmanly* to certain image-concerned men. Either way, Petite Jacqueline's movie night is a perfect reason to get out of the house Sunday night. In fact, given the excellent experience I had, I'm going to make it a new Sunday tradition. I strongly recommend you do, too. Though don't bring too many people--there are only so many seats available and I'm going to be pissed if you take mine.

*If that's a real concern dudes, you guys are idiots! Just try telling me treating a girl to French cuisine and a film at a classy bistro isn't a completely pimp move?! Yeah, that's what I thought.

If you are smart and actually take my advice, make sure to make a reservation. We only got in because someone else had cancelled. Below I've provided the schedule (and menu specials) for the remainder of the series. And if you're not stuffing your face with wings and watching the TV as grown men in tights grunt and tackle each other at the Super Bowl, maybe I'll see you at Petite Jacqueline next Sunday. Bon Appétit!

February 5th- La Vie En Rose
Featuring coq au vin.

February 12th- A Man and a Woman
Featuring oysters and champagne.

February 19th- Ratatouille*
Featuring ratatouille.

1 comment:

  1. I was just reading along and thinking - nice find, Ali, I will definitely put it on my "soon to happen" plans - when suddenly I noticed the line about getting your Mom to take you there for dinner. Ah, two birds with one stone. I get to go try this place out AND actually see my daughter, what's her name again...oh, Ali, that's right! HAHAAA! WHY do my guilt trips NEVER work? And I call myself a mother! Yes - definitely, let's plan dinner and a movie, ma cherie. My estomac wishes for bonne chere, and I DO hope the chaise is comfortable for my derriere...