Say Bonjour to Batifol, Petit Robert Bistro’s New Cambridge Sibling

The "true Parisian brasserie" is bringing a certain je ne sais quoi to Kendall Square all day long.

Charcuterie and cheese boards sit on a round copper table with a bottle and glass of red wine.

Charcuterie and cheese boards at Batifol. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Greater Boston has a new French restaurant, but it’s just one piece of owner Loic Le Garrec’s plans to bring more French food to the area. Batifol, now open in the former Abigail’s space in Kendall Square, will eventually have a sibling French bakery next door and a French market in the former Bergamot space in Somerville. But even just on its own, Batifol will meet a lot of needs, eventually operating all day, every day, for breakfast, weekend brunch, weekday lunch, and dinner. (As of press time, brunch, lunch, and dinner are up and running, with Batifol opening at 11 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends. Breakfast will begin soon.)

Interior photo of a French restaurant with a curved wall covered in white subway tiles and black lettering reading Batifol. Plush teal banquettes line the wall.

Batifol’s curved wall evokes a subway feel. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Interior view of a brightly lit restaurant featuring shelves of wine with a ladder to get to the highest shelf.

Batifol’s wines. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

“It’s a place that you can always come,” says Le Garrec. “The idea is to be open all the time with no stopping, and we’re trying to have a price point for everyone. You can come in and have a moderate lunch or dinner; you can treat yourself really well with our wine selection.”

Le Garrec is no stranger to French restaurants, having cofounded local favorite Petit Robert Bistro with Jacky Robert in 2005. The duo rapidly grew the brand to five locations, but these days only the one in the South End remains. Le Garrec is the sole owner; he bought out Robert in 2015.

Mushrooms are stuffed between puff pastry, and the whole thing sits in a pool of light brown sauce.

Batifol’s wild mushroom vol au vent with porcini cream and herbs. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

A French-style duck dish is topped with a charred lemon segment and sits in a thin reddish pool on a white plate.

Batifol’s Moulard duck miel-citron with fava beans, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

In a lot of ways, Batifol is “pretty much the same” as Petit Robert, says Le Garrec. “We’re proud to show our culture, to show what we can offer in France, and the concept is a true Parisian brasserie. That’s why I love to work with [head chef] Cyrille Couet, because his food is very traditional. He trained in France for many years, and he’s opened so many restaurants in Boston; he’s very, very talented.”

A salmon filet with crispy skin sits on a pile of chopped vegetables in a bright magenta pool of sauce.

Batifol’s Atlantic salmon with sweet potato, leek fondue, and beetroot vinaigrette. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

A risotto is studded with walnuts, herbs, and a round cracker.

Batifol’s wild mushroom risotto with sage-walnut beurre noisette. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

So, if the concepts are similar, why use different branding rather than opening another Petit Robert? “I don’t want to be a chain,” says Le Garrec, referring back to Petit Robert’s explosive growth in its early years. “That was way too much, way too fast, no structure. You live and learn. We realized quickly that we were competing with ourselves. [Plus] it’s super fun to create new things; it’s more challenging. I’m expecting most of my clientele [from Petit Robert] to come here too and check it out, so it has to be new and fresh. We’ll show people that there are many ways to do a steak frites, you know.”

A charred sirloin sits in a pool of a creamy light brown sauce with a side of arugula and some fries.

Batifol’s steak frites with green peppercorn sauce. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

French onion soup is served in a small black cast-iron pot and has charred cheese hanging over the edge.

Batifol’s soupe à l’oignon gratinée. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Speaking of steak frites, Le Garrec is particularly excited about Couet’s take on it at Batifol—“the [green peppercorn] sauce is just a tiny bit creamy; it’s perfect”—but the whole menu is “very fun,” he says. It’s a mix of familiar French classics (boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin) and some dishes that draw inspiration from elsewhere (cashew-crusted red perch in a Thai-style red curry, a ceviche of the day). “We can’t forget where we come from, but we can make it fun,” says Le Garrec.

Pieces of chicken in a dark brown glaze are positioned atop a pile of thick pasta with mushrooms, carrots, and parsley garnishing.

Batifol’s coq au vin includes fettuccine, wine-braised mushrooms, bacon, and shallot jus. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Two pieces of fish with the tails on are garnished with crushed nuts and sit on greens in a red curry-style broth.

Batifol’s cashew-crusted red perch is garnished with popped wild rice and served in a Thai-style red curry. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

And it does seem like a fun time for Le Garrec, or at least a busy one, as Batifol is one of several new projects on his plate. Across the courtyard from Batifol, there’s a space that has long housed cafes (Barismo, and before that, Voltage Coffee & Art); more recently, it has been a COVID testing site. It’ll eventually become “a true French bakery,” says Le Garrec. “We’re going to bake our own bread, croissants, pain au chocolat.” He expects it to open around summer 2023, maybe spring.

Crispy fried cauliflower is laid out on a rectangular plate on a zig-zag of thick yellow sauce.

Batifol’s fried cauliflower has capers, lemon, and saffron aioli. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Tuna tartare is served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers and garnished with herbs and a side of golden brown potato chips.

Batifol’s tuna tartare comes with sweet chips and a sesame-espelette dressing. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Meanwhile in Somerville, he and the team have also taken over the former Bergamot space on Beacon Street, where they’ll open a French market—“like a small Eataly, but French,” he says. There won’t be any service there, not even coffee; it’ll strictly be a market, selling some of the team’s own prepared items, like coq au vin and baked goods, plus French products like jams and mustards.

Several plump dark snails sit atop a golden brown piece of bread in a pool of herby butter.

Batifol’s escargots de Bourgogne are served in garlic-parsley butter with toasted brioche. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Overhead view of a French salad nicoise with slices of pink tuna, anchovies, and a spiral of a creamy green dressing.

Batifol’s salade niçoise features grilled tuna with egg, anchovies, green beans, saffron potatoes, and basil vinaigrette over lettuce. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

For now, though, catch Le Garrec and the team at Batifol in Kendall Square, serving charcuterie boards, escargots, salade niçoise, and lots more, alongside plenty of cocktails and wine, a few beers, and some intriguing spirit-free drinks.

A pink cocktail and a purple cocktail are served in coupe glasses and presented on a white marble table.

Cocktails at Batifol. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

“We really want to create a fun atmosphere,” says Le Garrec. “We train our staff to always be very welcoming, always pleasant, always saying yes. We really want to take care of our guests like they’re family.”

A thin piece of toast is covered with braised mushrooms and herbs, with a silver bowl of fries on the side.

Available at lunch, Batifol’s coq au vin tartine smothers toasted sourdough with wine-braised mushrooms, bacon, and shallot jus. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Overhead view of steamed mussels in a yellow broth with a side of fries.

Batifol’s steamed moules frites are served with fennel and saffron-chive cream sauce. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

291 Third St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-945-0345,