Posts Tagged ‘French’

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I love French food. I love to cook it, I love to read about it, I love to watch people cooking it and talking about it on TV, it’s a cuisine the just resonates with me. Particularly the provincial-style cuisine – French peasant food. God I love butter, cream, duck fat, wine and garlic and all those good things that go into French cooking. I find it pretty difficult to pass up an opportunity to gorge myself on a good confit duck or a tasty cassoulet… So when my Step Mum, Penny texted to say that she would be in town from her quick trip over to look after Granny in New Zealand, and suggested that we all catch up at A La Bouffe in Toorak for dinner – well, lets just say that I didn’t need any convincing. I’ve been to A La Bouffe a few times now and always enjoyed their approach. The menu is a collection of the classics, with a few interesting twists – generally executed exceptionally well, and the service is always friendly yet professional – not pretentious. Overall I feel they have the balance just right here. Generally I’ll start with the French onion soup, order one of the classic peasant style dishes or of course some form of Duck confit matched to a nice Côtes-Du-Rhône or Burgundy… I might even finish with their delicious tarte tatin. Of course, that’s if it’s not 40 degrees Celsius. The problem I faced on the last trip was that none of the usual food sounded appealing considering it was so bloody hot. I mean, Hell probably would have been a few degrees cooler on the day we met up. Opening the door of the car to walk to the restaurant was like opening the door to an oven.

Katie and I arrived early, and even though the restaurant is air conditioned, it’s hard to cool off completely – I sort of felt sick from being so hot all day. Looking though the menu, none of my usual French favourites really appealed. I was certainly not in the mood for soup. After much discussion and some refreshing beverages, I decided to opt for the steak. Jo, Penny and Taz had joined us by this stage and Jo had suggested the Eye Filet steak with Béarnaise. Since I love Béarnaise, this seemed like an appropriate choice. I ordered my steak medium rare and it came perfectly cooked, a really simple approach to the meat, no seasoning other than the necessary salt and pepper. The Béarnaise was amazing. There something about the buttery tarragon richness that I just love with steak. I don’t know why I don’t have it more often… Oh, that’s right – you either have to make it fresh yourself which isn’t all that easy, or find a restaurant that offers it – which is increasingly difficult… Jo felt that she could have done with a little more sauce, but then she was slathering it all over her steak – I felt there was more than enough. The lightly dressed green salad on the side was refreshing and the dressing tangy and bowl of French fries as always the perfect accompaniment.

Jo and I both decided to order Crêpes Suzette for dessert, I love the sauce and the theatre of the Flambé at the table. On this occasion though it felt a little more dangerous than usual. I almost felt like the waiter could just take the dish outside and wait for it to spontaneously combust in the heat!

Oh no - my dessert is on fire - oh wait - it's supposed to be...

Oh no – my dessert is on fire – oh wait – it’s supposed to be… That’s totally ok then.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals and the waitstaff were fun and friendly. I’d highly recommend A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro if you want good quality, and great tasting French cuisine.

 

A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Mum had offered to come up from Mornington and take Katie and I our for lunch in celebration of Katie’s recent graduation from her Masters of Design degree from Swinburne. Katie chose Chez Dré on the basis that they offer a pretty well regarded range of French “petits gateaux” (I don’t even know what that means…) and Macaroons (Which I can take or leave to be honest) – much to my dismay they don’t offer a burger, but then we had had our burger fix on Friday night so I shouldn’t really whinge. Ok, look it’s not all about me, but luckily they do brunch and not just sweets. Chez Dré is a French café and patisserie located in South Melbourne not far from the bustling South Melbourne Markets. This of course makes trying to find a park on a Sunday a bit of a head ache, but as they say, good things are worth the wait… They don’t take bookings on weekends, and the places was very busy but Katie managed to snag a table reasonable quickly and we were seated and ordering in no time. Katie and I order the “grand petit dejeuner”, I’m going to guess that it means big breakfast, but of course it sounds way better in French.

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For $21.50 you get toulouse sausage, ‘istra’ bacon, avocado, slow roasted tomato, herb potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, tomato relish and poached eggs on sourdough toast. It’s quite a lot of food so a good choice if you are hungry.

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Mum ordered the Duck Sandwich $23.50, which is a confit pulled duck sandwich with onion jam, red cabbage (Lightly pickled), grated apple & truffle mayonnaise. First things first – since Katie’s been pregnant she can’t look at a mushroom – which works for me since I’m like a hobbit when it comes to mushrooms! Normally I’d expect one or two mushrooms on a big breakfast plate, but not here – One serving of the lovely Portobello mushrooms is about 4, so I got  double – Winning! They had a great flavour – beautifully cooked with a nice hint of thyme. Just lovely on the sourdough toast. I swapped her the avocado (Never been a fan – apart from guacamole…). The Toulouse sausage was great, but cold by the time I found it – just so much food (And too much talking)! The one let down for me was the bacon – not really cooked – with lovely bacon like that it should be crispy, not soft – disappointing. Mum’s Duck sandwich was a talking point – a huge mound of confit duck, with a lightly pickled red cabbage, caramelised onion  and amazing seeded mustard and truffled mayo on sourdough – just stunning. Mum couldn’t get through it all, so we all had a bite. Of course after all that eating we had to try out the petits gateaux.

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I had the Caramel-Mandarin dome, which according to the menu was a “vanilla brûleé, mandarin jelly, pain de genes, valrhona ‘caramelia’ mousse” all of this for $9.50. Now I might not full appreciate what all of those things mean, but I do know that it tasted pretty damn good. Katie ordered the praline, apple & popcorn and Mum ordered the lemon – hazelnut tart. We couldn’t finish them all, not for want of trying, but in the end they were simply too big! There’s a reason this place is so popular – if you are looking for an amazing brunch with a French twist, I strongly recommend heading down.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon