The stars and planets seemed to have come into conjunction for Philippe Mouchel at his latest restaurant. After a dazzling start 20+ years ago at Bocuse in Daimaru he seemed to struggle a bit. Most recently he had to compete with the hype of Bistro Guillame, where, in our view, the cooking was less than ordinary. Away from all of that now he has really hit his straps.
The open kitchen allows him a visible presence while he can supervise every dish that goes out.
Neil, of At My Table ( www.http://tankeduptaco.blogspot.com ) and Dorothy, shared a fine meal with us at a very reasonable price.
There was no pretense about it all. Delicious warm crisp crusted sour dough rolls were presented in a small sac
with a dish of home made salmon pate.
Entrees were extremely good. A goats cheese souffle ($21.5) on roasted beetroot carpaccio with caramelized walnuts
was light with good flavour, A cured New Zealand King salmon ($19.5) with a very light cucumber a la creme and a horseradish cream
was superb. We shared a main course, a special not on the printed menu, as another entree,
a Pithivier,, a French round puff pastry pie which can have a variety of contents. It was packed with venison and foie gras. Not too rich but exceptionally tasty, and very very good.
Praised by food journalists for their rotisseried corn fed duck,, a serve for two, ($40 p/p) we were not going to miss the best duck dish in the country and we were not disappointed.
The breast perfectly cooked, was full of taste and almost meltingly tender for Sandra but, for some unknown reason, rather firmer for me. It came with a celeriac puree, poached figs and a spiced jus that was not too intense and added to the pleasure of the duck. The leg meat had been shredded and fried in Japanese bread crumbs, a bit like a crumbed rilllette, it was also moist and retained the flavour of the meat. The puree and the figs were a great accompaniment, it was a fantastic main course.
We had a side dish of ($7.5) French fries and a bowl of French style garden fresh baby peas ($8) with a little blanched lettuce
to round out the meal before the desserts.We tried three of them.
Their creme bruleel was as good as they get with a perfect rich creamy textured custard.
A pearr souffle with a scoop of ice cream light and pleasing.
The least pleasing dish of the night was a degustation dessert
made up of creme caramel, a slice of chocolate cake, a tart with berries and a couple of scoops of ice cream.
A moment after the desserts were finished our waiter approached with an attractive bowl of marsh mellow
from which four pieces were cut and placed on a saucer.
There is plenty to choose from on the menu including a five course degustation menu for the table ($95 or $155 with matched wines). Most mains are under $40.
The wine list is international, extensive and on the expensive side. By the glass they start at $12. We drank Chateau Tour du Haut Moulin Cru Bourgeoise, 2001 ($95) which was well past it's best and Chateau La Bourdieu Cru Bourgeoise, 2005 ($85) which was full of fruit and close to it's peak.
This was an very excellent meal in the style of a normal three course dinner where first quality products benefited from first class cooking.
Monday, July 04, 2011
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