Tag Archives: French Restaurant

Old School French at Benoit, Paris

We were in Paris in September and really wanted to try an old school French bistro so we decided to dine at Benoit, owned by the delightfully charming Alain Ducasse.  Wood paneled walls, clean crisp white tablecloths and waiters that are nice but slightly stand offish was exactly the atmosphere I was after.  Also, as you can see from the pics below, even the plates had the name of the restaurant printed on them – so French!

Something I noticed in France, was when they give you an amuse bouche or complimentary food item to whet your appetite, it’s almost like an entree serve in itself!   We were presented with fluffy cheese puffs and rabbit rilette with toast.   The cheese puffs were light and hollow, but packed a punch and the rilette was delicious (perhaps the best I’d ever had).

Now, I chose the foie gras as my entree, which came with a toasted brioche.  Whilst it tasted good, I was overwhelmed by the two slices that I had.  Being from Australia, you rarely get to eat more than 3 mouthfuls of foie gras.  I managed to eat one slice, and I felt terrible wasting such a divine piece of food.

My boyfriend chose the crayfish soup with creamy chives and the mouthful that I sampled was divine!   Tasted spectacularly of crayfish (surprise!).

For my main course, I chose sole with wilted spinach.  I was watching Masterchef Professionals UK and Michel Roux Jr. stated that this was one of his favorite dishes.   Sole is not something you can commonly get in Australia, so I had to give it a go!  It was fantastic.  The fish was firm and had a light sweet taste to it.  The sauce on top was a lobster bisque and the spinach and cream at the bottom was delicious.  

The boyfriend chose the beef fillet with marrow bordelaise sauce served on the side with a macaroni gratin.  The steak was cooked perfectly as was the side dish, and the marrow sauce (the star of the show) pulled it all together.

Dessert was the classic vanilla millefeuille, and I have to say, it was the best millefeuille I’ve ever had.  The layers were cooked to the point where it was just caramalised and has that burnt butter flavor and the cream inside was thick, rich and creamy.

One memorable part of this dinner was that menu’s are not available in English, so listening to the patient waiters translate it over and over again to the non-French was quite amusing.  I kept expecting them to throw the towel in and start swearing, but they kept their cool and pushed through.

All up, it’s exactly the charming bistro you would expect, complete with great French food.   The restaurant was packed on a Wed night.    I would definitely recommend it, and I would go again.

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Great modern French fare at Noir

Believe the hype, Noir is as good as they say it is.  The food was absolutely flawless.   The restaurant is cozy and comfortable, nestled in the midst of Swan St in Richmond.  The food is modern French, and flavours, textures, combinations of dishes is fantastic.  The presentation of food is gorgeous, as can be seen from the pics below.

Started with “crisp belly of pork, peas and prawns” which came sitting on top of a creamy rich garlic puree. Pork and prawn is a winning combo, enough said.

The other entree we had was the “salmon cured in Hendrick’s gin” which came with a gin granata, shaved cucumber and dill dressing.  Cool and refreshing on a warms summer day.

My main was the “crisp breast and confit leg of duck with kohlrabi, cherry and almonds“.  I wiped my plate clean.   The duck was cooked medium rare, just the way I like it.  The sauce was rich and delicious.  The kohlrabi was sweet and a perfect accompaniment.

My partner had the “eye fillet and braised shin of Black Angus” which came divided by a potato gratin with 3 onion rings sitting on top of it.  I stole a few bites, and gotta say, if my duck was not so darn good, I would have had the biggest case of food envy ever.  Perfect melt in your mouth eye fillet and tasty braised shin…. drool!

First dessert was the “raspberry soufflé with white chocolate ice cream on macadamias“.  Souffle was tart, and light and fluffy.  Greatly complimented by the white chocolate ice cream.

The “pot au chocolat” was fantastic!  It had Milo and crackle and malt foam and a chocolate biscuit wafer… all up, a tasty delight!

Have to say, we’ve had some great new restaurants pop up in Melbourne in the last 12 months and this is may be my favourite. I adore French food so this instantly has an advantage to win my affections.  Couple that with a great menu, perfectly executed food and solid wine to accompany the food and I’m pretty much in love.  Can’t wait to go back!

For more info:
Noir on Urbanspoon

Senderens…. Fabulous Lunch in Paris

So, I think we’ve all heard of the French chef who gave up his 3 Michelin stars to give good food at affordable prices to his customers.  That man is Alain Senderens and, I think handing back his stars was a great ploy to get infamous.   So we’d heard of this man… and when we were in Paris, we sought out his restaurant Senderens.   The food is spectacular.  The prices… hmm… I’ll let you be the judge.

There are two parts to his restaurant – the fine dining downstairs and the “Bar Le Passage” upstairs.   Given it’s lunch, we opted for the bar upstairs that has a 36 euro 3 course lunch.   We loved it so much, we returned for lunch again before flying out of Paris.

The 3 course lunch is fixed, so there’s no selecting of course.  First time were there, we were served a courgette cream soup as the amuse bouche which was light, cool and creamy.  Entree was a pork terrine, served with a rich hollandaise sauce, apples and lettuce heart topped with finely chopped eggs.  Any terrine served in France is fantastic, and this was no exception.   Main was a salted cod in mashed potato (it had a fancy French name!) and given I’m a big fan of both – it was delicious!  Buttery, salty, silky perfection with a toasty piece of garlic bread on the side.   Dessert was white chocolate mousse on a chocolate cake base with a strawberry sorbet atop.   It was a great way to finish the meal, although by then I was ready to roll out of there!

 


The second time round, we were presented with a capsicum cream soup as the amuse bouche.  Creamy and cool, served with a paper thin crouton.   Entree was a fish mousse with lobster bisque, which was so beautifully presented as quenelles with drops of bisque surround it and a thin crouton for texture.   The main was a roast chicken, served with  a parsley risotto on the side covered with parmesan foam.  This dish was impeccable,  perfectly tender chickeny chicken with complimentary sides to boost it’s taste – yum!  Dessert was a citrus mousse, with candied lime and oranges.  Again, a great finish to the meal.

I loved both our lunches here.  The first time we rocked up, I was a bit concerned as we’d been sightseeing the whole morning and I was disheveled and looking a bit worse for wear.  But we were greeted and welcomed like royalty, and whisked to the bar for our lunch.  Service was efficient and professional, and I never felt unattended.

The bar upstairs is a nice and casual environment.  And if you’re lucky to sit next to the window, you have a great view of the church in Madelaine.  The restaurant downstairs is a more formal, and elegantly decorated.  Next time I’m in Paris, definitely will try the restaurant!

Bistro Guillaume… oui oui!

Another great dinner at  Bistro Guillaume.  As most of you know, Bistro Guillaume is currently my favourite French restaurant in Melbourne.  Casual atmosphere, fantastic food, good value for money and a good selection of French fare.

Started with the delectable “Charcuterie Plate“.  A selection of cured meats is served alongside foie gras pate, savoury crispy toast, terrine and a rilette.   A couple of crunchy gherkins accompany to break through the richness of the meats.  A good selection, all very tasty.

The “Scallops with Mushrooms and Potato Crisps” is from the specials menu.  Five plump juicy scallops sit surrounding a thick mushroom ragu, garnished by potato crisps.  Very delicious and tasty.  It’s not a big dish, so works perfectly if you’re intending on having an entree, side and/or dessert to go with it.

The “Beef Daube” is a beef stew served atop a creamy mash potato.  The meat has been cooked to tender perfection and the sauce is thick yummy goodness.

We had the mains served with “Cauliflower Gratin“.  The crispy cheesiness went exceedingly well with our mains.

Bon appetite!

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

My Favourite French Restaurant… Bistro Guillaume

My favourite French restaurant in Melbourne is Bistro Guillaume located at Crown Casino.   I loved the original Guillaume at Crown, but the new Bistro has a more casual feel which means more frequent visits.  The restaurant is lovely and simple, with good service and excellent food.

I’ve had three entrees at Guillaume, the “Onion soup“, “Charcuterie plate” and “In house smoked salmon with dill cream and toasted brioche“.  All three are superb,  however, if I had to pick one, I would choose the charcuterie plate – it had a great variety of cured meats, terrine, and pate with foie gras.  Superb!

For mains, there is a solid variety of meats and seafood.  The “Berkshire Pork belly served with lentils and tarragon vinaigrette” has a lovely crispy skin on with a juicy cut of belly.  The sauce and lentils were a good companion to the belly, without overpowering the taste of the meat.

The “Barramundi with carrot and ginger purée, coriander butter and pommes allumettes” has a delicate balance ginger and fish, and the texture of the fish and potatoes is beautiful.  Very similar dish to the John Dory dish in the Guillaume at Bennelong degustation (which I raved about as the best dish of the degustation).   In the photo below, the most impressive part of the meal is depicted – the “Paris mash“.  I don’t want to think about how much butter is in it, but damn it is a good mash.

My favourite main is “Half a roasted chicken with Paris mash and chicken jus”.  In my opinion, it’s the best roast chook out there (better than PM24).  Crispy skin, succulent meat and a lovely sauce – yum!

Overall, a superb French dining experience.

For more info and reviews:

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

Whisked away to Sydney…

I am a lucky girl indeed, to be flown up to Sydney for my birthday to dine at Guillaume at Bennelong.   I do love the French.

We stayed at the Hilton Sydney, which is a favorite of mine.   I love the minimalist rooms, the location and the general aesthetic of the hotel.  Our room was upgraded, and it included a television in the bath!

Finding Guillaume was a tad tricky.  Between the Japanese tourist, the harbour bridge, and the Opera House, it was not easy spotting the signs and entrance to the restaurant.  However, when we did eventually find it, we were promptly ushered to our table with stunning views of the bridge.

Amuse bouche was a tuna tartare, which was buttery in texture and melts in your mouth.  The tuna was housed in a crunch cone, which added a lovely crunch to it.

The first course was a delightful salmon sashimi, to which my partner commented “they made cold fish taste good”.  My opinion was that it was delicious, but perhaps a bit too many peripherals.  As Coco Chanel said, when you walk out of the house, take one accessory off!

Next up we had a “Royale of Asparagus”, which was perfect!  Sprinkling of crab meat atop asparagus pieces, and custard…  perfect flavour, texture and balance.

The token scallops on cauliflower puree was next, which in my opinion was executed beautifully, however, it’s a dish that’s been done lots before and therefore perfection is expected.


The next dish, was the surprise star of the night.  John Dory with carrots.  It was cooked perfectly, and tasted amazing.  Loved that the dish had 3 different types of carrots.

Last but not least, comes the meat.  I hate to say, but I was terribly disappointed with the duck dish.  I adore duck and pinot noir, but this dish did not do anything for me.   I was so excited about the duck dish, that I didn’t even take a photo!  I so desperately want to love it…  Redemption came in the form of wagyu.  The final dish, 10 grams of wagyu packed a serious punch.  The mushrooms and mash were to die for.

Last but not least, came dessert in the form of a passionfruit souffle.   Tasty and light, a great ending to a great dinner.

No visit to Sydney would be complete without a visit to Adriano Zumbo’s Patisserie.  I think the pictures below speak for themselves…

 (25 Feb – 28 Feb 2011)
 

More info & reviews on Guillaume at Bennelong:
Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon

More info & reviews on Adriano Zumbo:
Adriano Zumbo on Urbanspoon