Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel (Crown)

Phillipe Mouchel and Alain Farbregues, from the Loose Box in Perth, hosted a ‘Truffle dinner, last night at the Brasserie at crown. A quick look at the internet will tell you that the Loose Box is one of the finest restaurants in Australia although Gourrmet Traveller has not been so enthusiastic, occasionally, but infrequently, giving it one star.

This was a one night stand at the end of the Western Australian truffle season (July and August) destined to be repeated next year. There was some early indecision about the menu which ended up as six courses plus coffee/tea and truffles. It began with an exquisite amuse bouche a cod fish ball in squid ink, deep fried with an edible decoration of fried parsley to accompany a pleasant Hanging Rock NV Brut Cuvee XII, Macedon bubbly wine which was also served with the first course – a warm Parmesan custard, quail egg, truffle and winter broth. Perfectly prepared and presented I found the truffles did not add it. The light custard had excellent texture and taste and combined well with the egg and broth, although it is not something I particularly like. Phillipe was responsible for the first course and they alternated after that. The following course (Alain’s) was beef carpaccio served with truffles julienne, white champignons, sugar peas, apple, basil, parsley, horseradish and olive oil. The carpaccio was unbelievably thin, melted in the mouth and delicately combined with the other ingredients. The only disappointing thing was the truffle, a thin slice rather than julienne , perhaps because it was too cold, it’s texture was as expected but it lacked aroma. The 05 Moss Wood Pinot Noir, Margaret River was ready to drink and did not overpower the food. The remaining wines were all Moss Wood and all the truffles were Manjimup black truffles. This was followed by pan seared scallops with truffle and brown butter vinaigrette. Here the truffles came into there own . Every element of this simple dish combined beautifully scallops lightly cooked to succulent perfection – a top quality dish well matched to the 08 Semillion Sauvignon Blanc. I was starting to really enjoy this meal! Then followed a glazed porchini and chanterelle mushroom terrine with truffles served with a lightly wooded 07 Chardonnay. It was challenging to find the chanterelles which were incorporated into the terrine. I originally mistook the Shimeji for them. An unusual and interesting dish with several different mushroom tastes and textures. The final main course was a pan roasted lamb medley with truffles and vegetables served with an 05 Cabernet Sauvignon which I liked best of all the wines. In a meal where there were exceptional elements to every course this was merely good. The dessert served with an 02 Chateau Pinsan Sauternes which toned down the sweetness of this Fabregues special,iced nougat with hazelnut and pistachio and truffles served with caramelized crème anglaise. This attractive creation was as pleasing to my palate as to my eye- a fitting end to a fine meal though once again the truffles made only the faintest contribution to the dish. Both chefs came around, separately, and chatted freely with the diners. Alain , who came to Australia for a visit over 20 years ago, and stayed, is a jovial host whilst Philippe was amiable but more serious

Meals like this stand alone and cannot be readily compared to others. I was a little disappointed with the contribution of the truffles to several dishes but it is possible to find fault with almost anything. I would rate this as a very good experience.
Price including generous wine service was $250/ person.
Score 16.5/20

1 comment:

neil said...

I thought for the most part, from a truffle flavour point of view, Mouchel's dishes were more successful than Fabregues, but that may be because his dishes were all warm or hot whilst Fabregues were served cool to cold, which seemed to mute the flavour of the truffle. It has to be said the truffle slice on the carpaccio added nothing at all to the dish, a point with which Fabregues agreed and also the beef was sliced so thin that its flavour wasn't apparent either. The Japanese scallops were the biggest, plumpest, tastiest molluscs I'd had in a very long while. All in all, it was an excellent night.