Saturday, September 15, 2018

Montrachet (Bowen Hills - Brisbane) 09/2018

It's four years since I last visited Montrachet and things have changed a bit. It's been sold and it's moved from a slightly isolated spot in Paddington to a busy restaurant strip and now also have outside dining. In other ways it's very much the same. A seven course degustation ($110) or a four course degustation ($90) with matched wines if you wish. A very French a la carte menu, uniformed wait staff and at least one French waiter.
Table settings are simple

with half a dozen places along the bar
for those who might wish to sit there.
Time for the food.
I find a few dishes that are a good test of a chef, one of them being French onion soup.

They did it very well. Well balanced, not too sweet, enough onion and the crouton covered with just enough cheese remained crisp.
I had been seated outside looking in!
After the first course I accepted a seat at the bar. Fish? lamb? fillet? quail? duck?
Lockyer Valley Quail won the guernsey .
This quite large bird, pan roasted, was served with preserved lemon farce on a bed of baked rhubarb accompanied by a 'baby' potato, parsnip and Juniper scented pan juices was a little bland but the accompaniments made up for everything. The light lemon flavour, the extremely tasty pan juices and the rhubarb were incredible.
As good as ever
Score:16.5 /20

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Pipero (Rome) 08/2018

This is no ordinary restaurant. To start with before you can get into the place you have to ring and wait for an attendant to check you in. Secondly it is exceptionally elegant. It has high vaulted black ceilings and broad arches. There is a sort of bar at one end of the large L shaped room.

Walls are white or painted with digitised, deliberately slightly out of focus, black and white photo's of paintings of Renaissance masters 
or a restful pastel grey with beautiful floor to ceiling curtains.
Light fittings hang from the ceiling like giant sea monsters

Large tables are set with show plates
 on excellent quality linen clothes and serviettes.
We were surprised when the owner introduced himself to us at attended to the table from time to time throughout the evening.
The menu can either be a la carte or one of two tasting menus: one seven  and one 10 courses for 110 or 140 Euro. Matched wines are also available.
As soon as we sat down the owner poured us a glass of champagne. The glassware was of the highest quality.

I was happy to have just a glass of wine which we drank through the meal. 
Before the amuse bouche a small glass container was brought to the table containing two green olives and some dry biscuits. As soon as the lid was lifted smoke drifted out. The olives retained a pleasant smoky taste.
A cute container looking like a silver apple, with a spout, on a leaf 
was announced to be Sicilian olive oil, which was poured into a donut shaped clear glass plate. f

or a bread course! First a sour dough bread made in house only about half an hour ago
The second bread was a plain roll to better experience the fine olive oil
The last bread was a small Chinese steamed bun.
The amuse bouche was just a mouthful of all good things.

We then had a very gentle cheese creation on a pumpkin purée with a salty sea asparagus tagliatelle, which was a sea weed
Next came a very salty sort of clam chowder, 

the clams were in a potato foam with a sprinkle of chocolate powder.

Risotto was yet another fairly salty dish
An interesting combination of scallop on a bed of finely homogenized chick pea kept company with a salty caperberry, a half a stuffed olive and some black and green olive powder

Pigeon was superb,  could not be better prepared, tender full of taste. The pigeon breast
with carrot two ways was followed by a crusted leg

on a bed of sunflower seeds.
Foie gras covered with a red fruit was a dish which would not be out of place at any restaurant, unless it was a vegetarian one!
Beef was next., salt crusted and covered with an oyster leaf.

Cheese and nuts!

and some nibbles.

Not perfect - whatever is, but a beautifully presented meal in a fine venue.
Score:17 /20

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Casa Copella (Rome) 08/2018

 This restaurant occupies a very long narrow area divided by arches with a sort of T junction at one point. 
Our waiter had no idea about the history of the building which we were told, was once occupied by a wealthy French family.
The decor is modern 

with small tables 
which and good quality cutlery, crockery and glassware, became very over crowded when the food was served on very large plates.

My meal started with onion soup. 

It was quite pale, sweet, thick and filled onion, covered with a little melted cheese
Sandra chose a seafood risotto.
This was very cool to which the waiter responded that it was so it could be eaten immediately it was served. In contrast the soup was piping hot, and could not be eaten immediately. 
I had a slow cooked herb crusted pork dish served with a sweet potato purée

The waiter did not know how long the pork was cooked (it was well cooked through), nor the temperature. It was 90 minutes at 62 degrees. It's a risk have herb crusted food. This was not offensive.
Sandra's smallish black cod fillet
sat on a bed of creamed sweet corn. The cod was perfectly prepared though the skin could have been crisper.
we shared a deconstructed St.Honoré dessert

which was just OK. the Chantilly cream was very heavy, getting close to butter.
Score: 15/20

Monday, August 20, 2018

Café Gran Roma (Via Veneto - Rome) 08/2018

This is one of hundreds of Trattoria/Cafés and restaurants that line many of the streets of Rome. Many seem to be much the same with menus outside their doors on sandwich boards and on the walls.




By now you will have a fair idea of what I mean. There are small variations in the menus and in the prices and small variations in the venues and in the food they serve but none of them are particularly elegant or exceptionally attractive so we settled on the first one we came to after leaving the hair dresser next door.
 and outside dining.
The menu was more or less indistinguishable from their neighbours.
 Tables are set with small live flower arrangements, this one a little the worse for wear.

Tortellini and bacon, peas and cheese, a mere A$15 was a pleasant slightly bland dish
 helped by the grated Mozzarella 

and salt and pepper. My spaghetti with sea food was quite good, plenty to eat, enough sea food and good taste.

Three large scoops of creamy ice cream 
ended an inexpensive (A$45) reasonably satisfactory meal
 Score:13.25 /20