Welcome to a corner of France in Byron Bay.
Lyon is renowned for cuisine and this couple have reached out to their cultural origins to create a distinctively French experience in Byron.
As we perused the menu we enjoyed seeing the personal touch they brought to a birthday celebration on the nearby table, and later - a wedding anniversary on another. Both Dominique and Igor are larger than life - and their philosophy about life is reflected in food that is generous and distinctly French.
The duck was not the best I have eaten, (twice cooked duck legs- a little dry - and my taste buds missed any sense of the combination of blood orange and grand marnier which lured me to select this dish) - and the fish (perch filets) enjoyed by one of my friends was OK but not exceptional. A generous serve - but the poor filet was simply drowning in hazelnut butter. The Berkshire pork neck with lentils was excellent. The terrines were a taste sensation. (The terrines is described as "Selection of pates du chef" if you are trying to find this on the menu).
The mains were accompanied by sides of vegetables shared by the table. The sides of salad - almost drowned (a french theme) in a dressing that was simply delicious, but other vegetable sides were passable.
On value - The Petit Snail offers a menu with prices rivalling the top end dining options in Melbourne or Sydney. The setting is basic, and food a little hit and miss. Frankly the prices are "Parisian" - and more than a little cheeky for a converted corner store in Byron Bay serving predominantly paysanne fare that is unreliable. But this gets washed over by the powerful personalities and good marketing skills of both Dominique and Igor.
As a guide- with prices at $18 - $33 for entrees; $37 - $48 for mains, $16 - $18 for deserts, there is no latitude for an inconsistent menu in a shabby setting.
The wine list offers a cheap house wine by the half litre or liter carafe - but these were unforgivably rough for a country with amazing possibilities given a little care to source something from the enormous range of clean skins available. We were left with a wine list that starts at $50 and is heavily weighted to $90 a bottle.
This combination would be short lived in the competitive dining environment of Sydney or Melbourne - but in holiday mode you can be swept up in the moment and maybe you tend to be more forgiving.
We didn't rate this highly for value. Nor would we hurry back for a repeat experience. But if the prices were lowered and were more aligned with the experience - we could eat there regularly.
The Petit Snail is often fully booked and you need to book to guarantee a table.
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