Having learnt French for 5 years of my schooling life, I’ve developed a love of France, its culture, language and food. I’ve never had the chance to travel to France but I think when I do, I will never want to leave! This love of all things French comes from my mother, who first introduced me to the French language and helped me through all my assignments. It was only fitting to take her to a French restaurant for her birthday.
Between the 7 of us, we managed to cover most of the menu, which is $53 for 2 courses or $65 for 3 courses. The oysters are incredibly fresh and shucked with the shell being replaced back on top. They’re so fresh that most of us eat them with a simple squeeze of lemon, not needing the dressing.
Charm orders the prosciutto, haloumi, asparagus and artichoke heart salad. It’s surprisingly moreish with silky strips of prosciutto and the crispiest chunks of haloumi I’ve ever had, and is simply dressed with olive oil.
“Is that cheese?” asked Liz, as she pointed at the circle of butter while the rest of our table laughed. It was our last day in Melbourne and we’d decided to splurge on a three course lunch at the three-hatted Vue de Monde. It was definitely on the pricey side for lunch at $55 for two courses or $70 for three courses, especially since a few of the group weren’t that into fine-dining (or butter that looks like cheese). But by the end of the fabulous meal, everyone agreed that it was definitely worth every cent.
We dined at Shannon Bennett’s restaurant when it was still located at the Normanby Chambers on Little Collins St. Things have changed a little since then, with Vue de Monde moving to a new location in the Rialto on Collins St, but there is still the option of having lunch for $60 or going all out for their $250 degustation menu.
We’re in awe at the level of service as soon as we step through the doors. It was a rainy day and we were immediately offered to place our wet umbrellas and jackets in cloakroom before being taken to a spacious dining table. The girls in the group were even offered to place their handbags on a shelf rather than the floor – and it’s these little things that make a dining experience so memorable. We took in the sights of the simple but sophisticated dining room, and I was lucky enough to have a clear view of the pass where a mirror was set up to reflect the chefs placing the finishing touches on the dishes before they were sent out.
While we each decided on what we wanted from the menu, some appetisers were placed on our table for us to nibble on. The olives came in a bowl made out the bottom of a wine bottle, while the crisps and sour cream dip which was topped indulgently with caviar were a cute little set where the dish was able to fit perfectly on top of the wavy edge of the bowl of crisps.
After we placed our order (and after I convinced everyone to get something different so we could cover the whole menu!), a waiter came over carrying a basket of bread. We were each offered a warm bread roll which I slathered thickly with the French butter. Yes I wanted more, and yes I was eyeing off the bread basket going off to other tables. But luckily we only had the one bread roll because there was more delicious food to come.
I always love being served a warm bread roll with creamy butter to start my meal at a restaurant. With Becasse Bakery around the corner, it’s no surprise that the bread is wonderfully soft and delicious.
Quarter Twenty One is one of the newest additions to Justin North’s food empire, having recently opened on level five of the new Westfield Sydney. Sir D and I are here for dinner tonight to celebrate my graduation and even though they’ve somehow lost the booking, we’re dining relatively early so we have no problems getting seated. We debate whether to go with the 7-course degustation menu at $90pp but instead choose to order off the a la carte menu.
My eyes immediately darted to the words “smoked bacon” on the menu and so I chose the Kurobuta pork belly as my entree. It arrived on a seemingly custom-made plate, with a round indentation to hold the slow cooked egg yolk perfectly. The dish was smaller than expected but rich and fatty, with paper thin sheets of bacon draped over the medley of mushrooms and egg yolk. The consommé was quite salty but when eaten with the other elements of the dish, everything worked well together to give an overall meaty, porky flavour.
Let’s be perfectly honest – the Upper North Shore is a bit of a dead zone when it comes to food. Aside from a few decent cafe-style restaurants, there’s not many places that you can go for a nice but affordable dinner (if I’m wrong feel free to provide suggestions!). That is, until Dietmar Sawyere’s Ad Lib Bistro moved onto the Pacific Highway in Pymble with classic French food served in a casual Parisian-bistro atmosphere. It’s clearly a favourite around here since we had to book 3 months in advance for a Saturday dinner.
We start with the onion soup, which I had high hopes for after reading other reviews. The cheesy gruyere crouton covers the top of the soup tureen and eating our way through it reveals a rich, fragrant brown broth. It is sweet from the caramelised onions, though a little heavy handed on the booze which isn’t to Charm’s taste. I can’t pinpoint exactly what I don’t like about the dish but I find it a little underwhelming – but that may be because I hyped it up too much in my own head!
Complimentary bread – I love the butter to bread ratio here!
Friday lunch. One of my favourite times of the working week because a) it’s nearly the weekend, and b) there are lunch specials to be had! I’ve previously been to Assiette and Marque for their Friday lunch specials, but this time we headed to Randwick to try out Restaurant Balzac’s lunch special, which offers a three course set menu for $35.
The restaurant interior is clean and white with lots of natural light flowing through the windows. On this particular Friday it was pretty full and I saw that most diners were having the lunch special, though the regular a la carte menu and degustation are also available. We were presented with some complimentary bread while we waited for the rest of the food to arrive.
Lyonnaise tart with Holy Goat La Luna and fresh thyme