I am an unabashed Francophile so I can’t quite believe that I’d never been to, let alone heard of, Chez Olivier till now. And Mon Dieu what have I been missing??

The door to Chez Olivier is small and unassuming but as soon as you walk in you’re transported to another time and place. (Cute) French waiters greet you cheerily ‘Bonjour!’ and seat you in the brassy front bar, the back room or upstairs (there’s also a little courtyard at the back but it’s a bit squishy for comfort). I opted for the front dining room so that I could admire the 100 green bottles, sitting on the wall, the vintage French posters and observe the animated chatter of patrons perched on stools by the window.

Water was brought to me quickly and as I was dining alone, the waiter gave me the day’s newspaper to peruse without any prompting. Full marks for that small, thoughtful gesture.

For lunch Chez Olivier offer a Menu Prix Fixe – two courses for $26, three courses for $30. You can also opt for the cheaper baguette + pomme frites lunch for $12, but if your time and budget extends to it I recommend treating yourself to a two/three course lunch.

The lunch menu provides a good selection of choices in Entrees, Mains and Desserts (unlike other places where you’re tied to maybe one or two choices). I decided on the Plat du Jour, a classic Duck a l’orange, sweetly fragranced and resting on a decadent creamy herb mash. No stringy dry meat to be found and I almost sighed audibly with pleasure. It wasn’t a huge serving but that’s the reason French women don’t get fat, non?

Plus it left room for my dessert, a freshly-baked chocolate fondant. A shallow ramekin moulding a thinly crusted gooey concoction and a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. Perfect, really perfect.

The food, service and ambiance at Chez Olivier plies to every French bistro stereotype, but that’s fine by me – if I can’t get to Paris, let Paris come to me.

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