Skip to main content

Le Petit Victor Hugo: A Parisian revival

A Parisian institution in the 70s, the iconic brasserie Le Petit Victor Hugo comes back to life thanks to a trio of talented women.

Known for generations in Paris’ 16th arrondissement, Le Petit Victor Hugo is an institution: the kind of brasserie that makes Paris famous worldwide. Now it has been reborn thanks to the work of interior designer Laura Gonzalez, chef Sandrine Esteves and bartender Adèle Fardeau, the seafood brasserie once again brings the coastline closer to the capital.

Behind the façade with its original charm, French interior designer Gonzalez has imagined a 70s décor: “I wanted to stay true to the place”, she explains “From the start, the owner – an architect – had created an arty, joyful and cozy atmosphere; they were the main reasons why Le Petit Victor Hugo was so liked and became famous”. Radiant with colors and patterns, the two-level restaurant seems like out of a movie: a monumental bar towering up to the second floor, a winter garden at the entrance, quiet booths and corners, brasserie-like areas, a joyful kaleidoscope.

With flair, Laura Gonzalez shopped for vintage Vallauris ceramics, crafted rattan tables, used polished stainless steel, shiny lacquer, extravagant carpeting by Pierre Frey, yellow or burnt orange leather mixed with Missoni inspired prints on large corner-sofas. Rich and sophisticated, the decor takes us back to the festive 70's when Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were out partying with their muses.

In the kitchen chef Sandrine Esteves raises the bar when it comes to seafood and mixologist Adèle Fardeau does the same behind the bar counter. Order the unforgettable PVH cocktail: blending Fair Quinoa vodka infused with red sansho peppercorns, Umeshu Genshu prune liqueur, aromatic Osco verjuice, cranberry nectar and egg white, the cocktail creates incredible sensations.

On a day to day basis, chef and bartender share the same approach and passion for impeccable sourcing, seasonal produce and sustainable choices. A la carte, one finds daily-line-caught fish brought in from Normandie by small fishermen. The raw bar is plentiful with a yellowtail sashimi served with green shiso or a scallop carpaccio dressed with caviar lime and bottarga; oysters are by Joël Dupuch and Véronique Gillardeau while shellfish are sourced in Granville.

Other starters include anchovies from Cantabria, crispy king prawns, tuna fingers with a Thai sauce or white tarama. Complete with a sharing size Parillada – a Spanish feast of rice, cooked with lobster, king prawns, mussels and clams à la plancha – one wonders: how can everything taste as fresh as if living by the ocean?

One thing is certain: for chef Sandrine Esteves, Le Petit Victor Hugo is her oyster.