La Petite Maison Thrives in Sandy Springs
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La Petite Maison Thrives in Sandy Springs

Stephanie Jaouen-Spells is keeping culinary tradition alive after taking over for the restaurant’s Jewish owners.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

  • The newly expanded patio seats 54.
    The newly expanded patio seats 54.
  • La Petite Maison’s salad and appetizer course starred the Salade Verdi and the tuna carpaccio.
    La Petite Maison’s salad and appetizer course starred the Salade Verdi and the tuna carpaccio.
  • Owner Stephanie Jaouen-Spells welcomed guests this year with a Chanukah menorah.
    Owner Stephanie Jaouen-Spells welcomed guests this year with a Chanukah menorah.
  • The salmon entrée Saumon Grillé et Son Pistou with honey lemon sauce was recommended by the server.
    The salmon entrée Saumon Grillé et Son Pistou with honey lemon sauce was recommended by the server.

Despite some health issues along the way, owner Stephanie Jaouen-Spells is living her best life, committed to her trade. Clad in silver sequined pants, she was working the room at her restaurant, La Petite Maison, like a fine Swiss watch, greeting new customers and regulars (many of whom are Jewish), and making sure everyone’s meals are on point.

Owner Stephanie Jaouen-Spells welcomed guests this year with a Chanukah menorah.

Born in Aubervilliers, in the Paris suburbs, she lived in Burgundy, then Brittany, before getting a business degree at the Université de Lyon. While nannying in England, which explains the British note in her French accent, Jaouen-Spells began working in a banquet hall at a five-star hotel. At the tender age of 22, she was promoted to server at La Noblesse, the “only woman” on the staff. While working as a flight attendant for British Airways, she met her husband, who was stationed in Atlanta, and befriended the Jewish family that owned La Petite Maison.

She recalled, “They were always there for me during hard times and taught me to respect and embrace Judaism. When the owner’s wife became ill, I had a successful jewelry company and was working at the restaurant on weekends. My pledge was to buy them out and not change the team and family atmosphere.”

Jaouen-Spells herself has endured several cancer surgeries and is now five years cancer-free. She credits her attitude and determination for her good health. “You can never stop fighting,” she says. “You put one foot forward and keep going. When I was ill, the love and help of the community was overwhelming — cards, flowers, even friends working here.”

All the time she invested doesn’t feel like work. “I’ve been the owner for seven-and-a-half years, and I’m still learning. Coming here is like meeting friends; but there is always activity. We just redid the patio, then the whole AC system broke.”

La Petite Maison’s business has bounced back from the sluggish pace of the pandemic. “Our landlord, Mark Blumenthal, was very understanding and worked with us,” she recalled.

Now about our dining experience. Every table gets fragrant crusty French bread, a reddish olive tapenade, toast, black olives, oil and balsamic vinegar. We relied on our server Raphael for suggestions.

Salade Verdi ($14): Mixed greens, tomatoes, parmesan with pesto, fresh mozzarella rounds, and artistically sliced avocado.

The salmon entrée Saumon Grillé et Son Pistou with honey lemon sauce was recommended by the server.

Tuna Carpaccio ($17): Circular arrangement of sliced dark pink tuna, avocado, capers, with the square plate framed by mango chutney and red grapes. The dish comes with a mound of savory whipped cream. (The carpaccio also comes with salmon and beef options.)

 

For the entrée, Saumon Grillé et Son Pistou with honey lemon sauce ($27): Raphael indicated that this was one of the more popular fish dishes. White rice and string beans du jour. The latter were sweet and sour, and stellar. The salmon edges were crisp, which added to the flavor.

For dessert, Browned Apple Tartin with caramel coulis and demi-glace of whipped cream, sour cream and more caramel with calvados, a brandy from Normandy made from apples or apples and pears.

For next time, try the cheese plate for 2 ($15) with fruit chutney and walnuts, homemade linguini pistou ($16) or swordfish with a white wine beurre blanc and lemon confit served with roasted potatoes and green beans ($28).

La Petite Maison’s salad and appetizer course starred the Salade Verdi and the tuna carpaccio.

Bottom line, the food is authentic and beautifully presented without a heavy hand. Bravo and merci for serving dedicated French cuisine that stood out in Sandy Springs before Sandy Springs became the social and dining mecca that it is today.

Lunch and dinner served six days a week, closed Sunday. The restaurant, at 6510 Roswell Rd., seats just over 50 in the glitteringly lit patio, and 49 inside.

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