Food adventure @ The French Brasserie
The time seems to be flying by super quickly because before I knew it, my once-a-fortnight-turned-into-once-per-two-month eating adventure/catch up with J.ma came and went. This time around it was J.ma’s pick and she decided on The French Brasserie.
From outside you could see that the venue was very elongated. Such layouts always give off a more cosier feel, provided that the place fills out (which was not an issue here!) On another note, check out one of our very charming and charismatic waiters!
Views from our table. Digging the staggered table layout.
Views from above.
It doesn’t look like it from the outside but the venue also comprises of an upper floor. As you can see, all the tables were filled. When we arrived for our booking at 6.20pm, the place was relatively empty, with only four tables including our own occupied. 15 minutes later, more than half the tables were filled and by 7pm the place was bustling.
Candle light dinner.
Fish bowl candle.
An orange juice and raspberry lemonade. I don’t think I can do raspberry lemonades anymore. Even minus the alcohol, they taste like raspberry vodkas. Blegh!
Complimentary bread, with some sort of mustard/pâté-like butter concoction.
I thought that the serving of the bread given to us was a very generous size. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to refrain from eating too much of it too quick to allow for plenty of room in my stomach for the food we ordered. The bread wasn’t crisp enough for my liking but the puff pastry-like taste was pleasant.
Charcuterie - The french platter, assortment of french terrines, condiments, red wine vinegar reduction, pain de campagne.
Note to self: terrine is a forcemeat similar to pâté.
All caught up in the French atmosphere of our surroundings, we decided to go with the French platter for our entree. It was either that or the escargots (will try them eventually… someday…) I was a little disappointed when we were presented with a platter of various cold meats (hence the little note for myself for future reference). Just a whole heap of different meats prepared in ways that my palate has not been exposed to. But I tried them and ate most of it anyway.
The terrines sat in the middle of the platter and going from the top and down: pâté, black pudding, duck terrine, pork rillette and pork terrine. The condiments were onion jam and fig chutney.
The pâté was surprisingly creamy and almost mousse-like. The black pudding tasted too “rusty” for my liking and I left it untouched after one bite. The duck terrine was quite salty and some bites packed a stronger duck taste than others. The pork rillette was my favourite, followed closely by the pâté. It tasted like a cold, tender and mashed up version of grilled pork. The pork terrine was very chewy and had a lot of tendon bits in it. Worse still was the sour and pickle-like taste. Not a fan. The onion jam tasted like caramelised onion in a jam form. The fig chutney was quite sweet but left a subtle bitter after taste. The bread was very buttery and reminded me of a blander version of croissant. There was not enough bread to eat with the various pâté meats and so the complimentary bread was nifty here.
Arrangement of the charcuterie elements on my plate.
Paillard de bœuf - Yearling beef minute steak, bordelaise sauce, french fries.
J.ma’s main dish. The beef was very tender, well cooked and supple. Oh so very tender. They never gave her a steak knife and our blunt knives were able to cut through it! The sauce and the onion provided an overall sweet-sort-of-savoury taste. I personally prefer mushroom or pepper sauce when it comes to steak. The beef also went well with the sauce from the duck main…
Not a single french fry in sight on the plate. But wait…
There they are! It was a very generous serving of fries for a side…
The fries were good: crispy with just the right amount of salt.
Canard à l’orange - duck breast, asparagus trio, potato, confit cherry tomato & orange sauce.
The duck main was also very tender. Almost like it had been slowly cooked but with the added perk of remaining intact and not falling apart when pierced with a fork. The skin, what very little there was of it, was very crisp. The orange sauce tasted slightly similar to caramel when I tried a little bit on its own. Through contrast when eaten together with the duck, the orange flavour could be detected. After the flavours from the sauce fade away, the duck aftertaste was quite potent. The larger piece of duck in particular possessed a stronger duck taste. The potato was quite dense and I couldn’t work out if it had been compacted into a ball or carved straight from the potato. Either way, it was very skilfully derived. The texture was quite smooth and velvety but not fluffy or light like in the mashed form.
Presentation of the dish was a 10/10.
Room for dessert? Barely. But with the options sounding so delicious, we just had to! We narrowed the options down to two, couldn’t narrow it down any further and ended up getting both.
Fantaisie de chocolat (Valrhona chocolate) - chocolate & almond dacquoise, choc mousse, crystallised choc, frozen acro, crème fraiche ice-cream.
A chocolate lover’s dream dish. Chocolate galore. In all forms and shapes. For a not-as-big-as-chocolate-enthusiast like myself, tea would have been great to help tone down the chocolate. The random chocolate clumps on the side were a cross between a very rich chocolate cake and a dense dark chocolate mousse. These were probably my favourite out of the everything on the plate because they were surprisingly not too sweet and literally felt as though they had melted away whilst in the mouth. Also on the sides were smaller clumps of chocolate and sugar and these pieces packed a nice crunch. In the middle was what looked like a thin slice of cake with chocolate mousse and ice-cream on top. I could taste nuts in the thin cake but no nuts were visible. They must have been grounded up very finely. The ice-cream tasted very similar to a milky sorbet with a subtle lemon flavour. Personally I thought the dish could have done without it because the sour taste didn’t suit the chocolate and the melting of the cream made the cake very soggy. The mousse on top was fluffier than the mousse/cake clumps and tasted very decadent.
Pêche, olive et thym - slow roasted thyme infused peach, coulis, petite meringues, dried olives, thyme and olive ice-cream.
A nice contrast to the chocolate, the flavours in this dessert were lighter and very summery. The peaches tasted super fresh and were probably one of the better-tasting peaches I’ve tried yet. The coulis tasted like peach syrup from canned peaches. There were little pieces of olives scattered throughout the dish but a little goes a long way, with each piece providing an explosive burst of olive flavour. Further adding to the battle of the savoury vs. the sweet was the inclusion of olive oil ice-cream, meringue and sherbet. The olive oil ice-cream tasted like olive oil mixed with cream and its aftertaste was particularly interesting: olive and bush leaves.
This dish essentially tries to bring together sweet (the peaches, coulis, sherbet and meringue) with savoury (thyme and olives) and how well they accomplished this task remained on my mind even by the time I had finished the dish. I liked particular elements (ie. the super duper fresh peaches) but I remain undecided about the overall taste…
Again the presentation was sublime.
With a name like “The French Brasserie”, there were never any doubts about what sort of cuisine would be served. The French food was a given. What I didn’t expect was… the rest. If I thought that any of the other French restaurants I had previously dined at oozed of an authentic French vibe, then The French Brasserie took things up a notch to their own level. The waiters and waitresses communicated to one another in le français and any anglais (used when speaking to most customers) was spoken with a side of heavy french accent. I wanted to squeal from delight but refrained… The taste and presentation of the food we had ordered, maybe aside from the taste of the entree platter, were close to parfait. We will definitely be returning and in the meantime I will try and muster up the courage to try those escargots…
The French Brasserie
2 Malthouse Lane,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9662 1632