Sunday, February 08, 2009

La Belle Epoque (Brisbane) 09

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La Belle Epoque
A request to our concierge for the best French restaurant in Brisbane drew no clear cut favourite. We eventually chose BE situated just out of town in the Fortitude Valley area. Surrounded by half a dozen very busy restaurants with indoor outdoor dining it is an imitation French bistro. The décor is 1920’s with steel pressed ceilings painted bronze, as were the walls, rows of banquettes and butcher paper covered tables. Table cloths are a rarity in Brisbane, even at the best restaurants. We were seated promptly but then it was 10 minutes before we were offered menus and had to ask for bread. We lashed out on the entrees with foie gras ($37) served with a small, lightly cooked sweet apple. This was a nice piece of liver, nicely cooked, rich and satisfying but we have recently enjoyed much finer foie gras marinated in wine to produce exquisite taste. The Charcuterie ($24)

was interesting consisting of a slice of boar terrine, thin sliced air dried bison, chorizo sausage and prosciuto with an accompaniment of a few miniature pickles. I could not recognize the bison or the boar meats and was very surprised by them. The bison tasted like a chewy air dried beef and the boar a firm meat with very little fat and no especially distinct flavour. A prawn salad ($21

) – three prawns with and some greens and nice decoration was a dull starter. For mains we had an outstanding rabbit stew ($29)

in a Dijon mustard sauce accompanied by pasta shells. The whole dish was very well prepared with the rabbit, as tender and juicy as one could ever ask for. The elements of the dish melded perfectly. The Mussels, ($35)

served in the traditional mussel pot,

came with a large serve of French fries. were plump and of good texture and taste but the mussel soup had too much of the sea salt, no doubt released from the mussels as they opened, which unbalanced it. Nevertheless it was a good dish. The cassoulet ($29)

was a standard bean stew – definitely cuisine bourgeois. This was a substantial meal and we skipped dessert. Service was a little slow but they were certainly very busy. They have a reasonably varied wine list with plenty of French wines. Prices are mostly on the high side but there are some inexpensive wines available. We drank a NV Choisel champagne ($75). Slightly dry it went well through the meal. This is a well above average bistro and I was pleased we went there.

Score:14.75 /20

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