Small, but perfectly formed
Introducing Le Petit Balcon, a new opening on Robertson Street. By Steven Short
If you’ve ever dipped into George Street’s café culture you will know Nette Carter from Le Petit Fi café, which she opened in 2012. Nette, who moved to Hastings in 1995, studied performing arts, but “never really did anything with it”. Instead, she decided to turn her love of entertaining into a business. “I had no experience in catering at all,” she admits, “but I love cooking and I’m a very sociable person, so I thought opening the cafe was a nice thing to do”.
CREDIT: Le petit balcon
A musical duo
Sixteen years later, with her George Street venture still going strong, Nette has teamed up with her friend Kate Cornwell to open Le Petit Balcon, on Robertson Street in the town centre. “We both love music, especially jazz,” says Nette, “and we had an idea for quite a while that it would be good to do something that combined hospitality with music, and the opportunity came up in the new town”.
Le Petit Balcon is on the site of what was once Bancey’s and is, “perfect for those who like a little bit more privacy while dining but still like to soak up the atmosphere of Jazz and a bit of a buzz.” Nette and Kate have completely refurbished the venue – “we’ve ripped it apart!” – taking its name from the newly created mezzanine.
CREDIT: Le petit balcon
Opening during a pandemic has not been without its problems. “We got the place in October 2019 then we closed at the beginning of January 2020 to start the refurb…” Then, of course, lockdowns hit, and things were put on hold. When the builders finally came back to start work, one of them was struck down with Covid. “It’s been a bit of a process, well, a bit of a nightmare,” laughs Nette.
But Le Petit Balcon is now open, serving lunches, dinners and weekend brunches. Menus will be seasonal and are overseen by Joel Cruz, who has worked with Nette at Le Petit Fi. Nette promises “fine food, good wine, amazing cocktails”. On the launch menu, among other things, you’ll find ‘linguine vongole’, ‘mussels with saffron and chilli’ and ‘pea, mint and asparagus risotto’.
“We also do the amazing Le Balcon Burger,” says Nette. This 6oz patty uses meat sourced from Winchelsea paired with Italian sausage and scamorza, a smoked Italian cheese. There’s a launch lunch offer, too, of a main course and glass of wine for £12.95. And as for music, Nette and Kate’s new venture will feature live acts once restrictions allow, something they trialled earlier this month when a saxophone and guitar duo provided a laidback live soundtrack to Sunday brunch.
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