Tag Archives: French

Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

Push open the heavy door. The sound of Jazz music comes up the spiral staircase.  Descend said stairs past thousands and thousands of mini-bar style bottles.  To my right is a queue of people waiting for a spot at a cosy bar with its own bar menu.  To my left is the restaurant, full of relaxed, post work chatter.   A grand piano sits on a small stage, red curtains behind it.   It is waiting for someone to belt out some Gershwin or Piaf.  Welcome to Hubert, dripping in atmosphere and conviviality.

Hubert was one of the hottest openings of 2016, it was near impossible to get a spot unless you were willing to get there for a Nursery Hour dinner or, at the other end of the spectrum,  at the time you’d usually be lining up at Golden Century for post drinking salt and pepper squid.  The website had people cursing in frustration – in the first few months there was no menu to peruse, no bookings except for 6 or more and only allowed within a certain number of days in advance, no phone number if you needed to make a change, dinner only, lunch mas non, and truly suboptimal lighting for ‘Grammers.  Other than the booking policy and the lighting, the other things have thankfully changed.

On my first visit I thought that the place was perhaps a wee bit overhyped.  On my second visit though, coinciding with their one year anniversary, I bought into the dream. There’s some pretty fine French fare going on here so take a bunch of your friends so you can work your way through it, some of the plates are too big for two to share.  There was a wonderful sounding whole duck special that night, but designed for 3-4. No surprise that the place got a two hats debut.

The very long wine menu makes for some entertaining reading, peppered with a staff Q&A. There are several pages just of whisky, so my friend thought that no pinot gris by the glass was a little black cross.

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The bread bought to the table is just excellent, and so is the butter; it would be easy to gorge on it.  But I’m surprised that it is what goes with the smooth and delicious duck pate, I would have preferred some thin crisps instead.

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Love the wagyu tartare (what’s left of it, I forgot to take a photo); unusual combo with the French fries, which are smattered in herbs and finger licking good

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The Clams Normande come in a light buttery fish stock, I dip the bread in so as to soak it all up.

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The pickled octopus with kipfler is a bit too acidic for me, but that’s my fault for not reading the word pickled on the menu.

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I’m also not that big a fan of the much talked about Malakoff, a deep fried gruyere.  One mouthful does the job, it is quite rich.

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But I love the lobster spaghetti, done in a lobster sauce with cherry tomatoes and chives.

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The John Dory provencal is simply done, poached with a topping of tomato, olive oil and basil.

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The crew put their own spin on Pommes Anna, taking the potatoes vertical instead of the typical French horizontal.  Ah that beurre blanc.

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On my second visit though the four dishes my friend and I had ordered were bought to the table all in extremely quick succession and we ran out of room, perching one precariously on a wooden divider. Gotta turn those tables folks. Long and leisurely is not the name of the game if you eat before 8.30pm.

I did love both the desserts I tried.  They are very generously sized, and easily shared between two.

The Santa Claus melon with finger lime, sorrel jelly and young coconut sorbet is wonderfully refreshing.

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Having had a few enjoyable vacherin desserts in my time – typically layers of meringue and cream – I decide to try theirs.  It makes me chuckle, it looks like it should have a barbie doll sticking out of the top of it – remember those barbie toilet roll holders? Lurking behind the cream is the meringue, which when smashed though reveals a delicious combination of sauternes ice cream, honeycomb, lemon and mandarin.

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There’s a private dining area available and also a banquet menu for groups.

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Restaurant Hubert, Basement, 15 Bligh St, Sydney
Ph 9232 9881
http://www.restauranthubert.com/

Restaurant Hubert Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bistro Guillaume, Sydney

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The Small People are not so small any more.  I blinked and another birthday had arrived. As has become custom, the four of us go out to dinner.  With the Marito being a vegacquarian and our home meals centring around that, our identical little carnivores like to go out for a good steak.  I knew that recently opened Bistro Guillaume’s steak frites would deliver, so off we went.  Guillaume is presiding that evening, in a kitchen that seems to be a remarkable oasis of calm.  He spots us playing a game of Uno at the table – a special birthday request of the Small People – and has a chuckle; I doubt its something he sees too often at his restaurants.

The restaurant itself is classic and spacious; dark floors, comfortable chairs, a smattering of banquettes. The staff are excellent, attentive and knowledgeable and we are very well looked after that evening.

We have our eyes on dessert so skip entrees that night and go straight to mains, though I do want to go back and try a few, in particular the steak tartare and the chicken liver parfait.  They also seemed to be doing a roaring trade in the charcuterie plate.

But first some lovely Iggy’s sourdough arrives at the table with some house butter. I also start with a refreshing Guillaume Spritzer.

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The boys get their desired Steak Frites, which they pronounce to be up to standard.  The Bernaise, which we request on the side, is creamy with the right amount of vinegary tartness.

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My confit of duck is on the small side compared to other mains but rich and delicious. The Small People, whose eyes tend to be bigger than their stomach, like it too.

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The star is the whiting Colbert, Colbert being a French presentation technique. It is completely deboned, and there is some serious chef flair on display here. Totally delicious and the Marito generously hides his reluctance in letting us all try a bit.

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Never ask Guillaume how much butter is in his Paris mash, he won’t tell you, just enjoy it.  And the beans come with a tasty pistachio pesto, though I did not expect them to be cold.

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There are a few individual desserts on offer like the apple tart and the profiteroles, which one of the Small People opts for. The waiter goes to drizzle chocolate sauce on top but the boys have their own idea and hold onto it for later. The vanilla bean ice cream is fantastically vanillery (yes that is a made up word).

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The rest of us only have eyes for the Dessert Trolley, which attracts saucer type eyes from surrounding guests when the waiter wheels it over.  For $25, you can try a bit of each, or as few or as many as you want. I say to our waiter, “So if I just want Paris brest and nothing else, would you just give me half of that wheel?”. “Pretty much”, he replies.

We opt for the lemon tart (the Marito says One.Of.The.Best.Ever), the Paris brest (gorgeously rich and with pronounced hazelnut cream, as it should be), Mille Feuille (wonderful pastry, but overall not as good as the one I had at Jacques Genin in Paris, but I’m being picky), and chocolate mousse (devoured by Small People, not my kind of thing).

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No sweet tooth? Choose from the cheese trolley instead.

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If you don’t want a sit down meal, on the side you can grab takeaway coffee, sandwiches, quiches, and tarts. There was also a rumour floating around that he is planning to air freight in croissants from Melbourne’s famed Lune – hope so, I’m lining up for the almond.

You wanted it to be a Taste of Paris, Guillaume? I think you’ve done better than that.

Bistro Guillaume Sydney, 259 George St, Sydney Ph 02 8622 9555
http://www.bistroguillaumesydney.com.au

Bistro Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lune Croissanterie, Fitzroy

A friend at work had been reading up on Lune, where croissants are created in a perfectly temperature controlled glass cube by a former aerospace engineer. The New York Times recently boldly claimed they may be among the world’s best – I had visions of a Jean Claude or a Jacques in Paris somewhere reading this article and proclaiming “Quel horreur! Mais non!”.

I was in Melbourne for work and was meeting someone nearby, so wandered over to check out the queue situation, which I’d read was generally monstrous. Walking in, there is the immediate smell of buttery goodness.  See the light pattern on the ceiling? Its a throwback to the Millennium Falcon.   Star Wars fans have gotta be good people.  The pattern is replicated on their cool takeaway boxes, which by the way, are $4 if you don’t buy six or more items.

Through dumb luck, there were only a dozen or so people in front of me, and three people serving, but within ten minutes, it looked like this….I wonder what it is like on a weekend. (That bloke in the blue looks like he may hurt someone if what he wants sells out before his turn. Relax, bro).

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I’m not actually a big croissant eater, I may have two or three a year, and if anything they are of the almond variety, but the Marito is rather partial to them, so here I was. The menu is short and sweet (no pun intended, and there are a couple of savoury items), focussing on what they are good at rather than making a multitude of things, and they are on display at the counter allowing for easy choice.

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Within a few minutes I had four in hand – a traditional, an almond, a coconut pandan and a pain au chocolat. I whisked them back to Sydney for tasting.

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The verdict? Flaky, buttery, light and the right hint of sweetness.  The Marito, who was more appropriately qualified to opine, rated it.  One of the boys, who is rather an expert in pain au chocolats (he consumed at least one daily in various bakeries around Paris, deprived child), said his PAC was “really really good” (he’ll be a food critic yet, Durack had better watch out).

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But then I tried the almond croissant.  Oh, hello.  How many different words are there for awesome?  World’s best  – just maybe.

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Lune Croissanterie, 119 Rose St, Fitzroy
https://www.lunecroissanterie.com/

Lune Croissanterie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Missy French, Potts Point

A friend from Melbourne is in town and we’re catching up to discuss various First World Problems (what size handbag she should buy, where to find camisoles for suits, when am I ever going to buy an iPhone and the like) and a few more serious ones (food security, educating our children about good health, how to get our husbands to do more housework). And Josephine Perry’s recently opened Missy French is the right place for a girly meet, sophisticated with a decidedly feminine touch. There is no sign of the building’s colourful former occupants, among them a Japanese brothel and an illegal gambling house.

A real live Missy French is at the door to greet me – “alors, I ‘ave a lovely banquette for you” – and it is indeed lovely and the perfect spot to see what is going on in the rest of the pretty room. The Perry commitment to good service is obvious – when water is bought to the table, I ask for some ice which is bought promptly. But another staff member whisks it away, saying “we should put it in a prettier glass than that”, and returns with some gorgeous cut crystal.

The menu has a good mix – I’d be quite content with any of the dishes on it in the unlikely event I’d actually allow someone to order for me – and we are given a debrief and presented with a short but well considered wine list. So here is where we end up

Chicken liver parfait with brioche and cornichons. Classic and rich, I’m glad I decided to walk the two kilometres here from the office.missyfrench (4)

Prawn bisque with corn custard. Perfectly cooked prawns, silky custard but alas the bisque is underseasonedmissyfrench (3)

Parisienne gnocchi with pumpkin and sage. These are different to your Italian version, creamier is the best way to describe them, and they are damn deliciousmissyfrench (6)

So too is the pithivier – which I completely mispronounce, but it’s essentially a very fancy French pie – with succulent pork, peas, a very tasty jus and flaky pastry.missyfrench (5)missyfrench (7)

We are quite full by now and decide to share a dessert, the Lemon and Lime Eaton Mess – a chilled and refreshing combination of sweet and sour.missyfrench (8)

We leave content, First World Problems largely resolved; the husbands and housework issue may however need a follow up session. “Bonsoir” says the live Missy French, “see you again”.  She may well.

Missy French, Rothwell Crescent, Potts Point
http://www.missyfrench.com

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Missy French Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guillaume, Paddington

This is a French restaurant for grown-ups. You won’t see any maman’s urging their petite filles to eat their haricot verts here. Guillaume Brahimi may have lost his iconic Opera House home, but he’s moved into a bijou little terrace in Paddington, with its plush carpets, thick white table cloths, and quietly gliding waiters.

We’re here with some good friends and decide to splurge on the degustation menu.   The dishes range from just good to knock-it-out-of-the-park and we come away happy and sated. I will be back, but next time will quite happily do a la’ carte – I have my eye on the duck.  The service was excellent from the moment we arrived till the moment we left – they even held open the doors of our taxi for us. Given plenty of decadent ingredients and the intimacy of the setting its an ideal place for a special occasion dinner. Personally I thought it was better than the original venue all round.

My photos aren’t the best – bring back daylight savings!

We start with an amuse bouche of salmon with lemon, fennel and wasabi. Tangy, fresh, flavoursome.

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The first course of the degustation is the scampi, but we ask if they wouldn’t mind giving two of us the tuna from the a la’ carte menu, and two of us the scampi so we can try both. They kindly oblige. And I’m so glad about that because the yellowfin tuna is one of the knock out dishes, no surprise it’s a signature.guilluame (2)

The scampi with cucumber, chili, croutons, peach, shiso & Ocean Trout Roe.  The scampi are beautiful but I find the dish sweetened too much by the peach.guilluame (1b)

Royale of Peas with truffle and mud crab – creamy and decadent.  Love the Mother of Pearl spoon!guilluame (3)

Marron with pork cheek, radish, cauliflower, sea sprayguilluame (4)

Patagonian toothfish, peas, onion confit, speck, chicken jus, béarnaise.  I adored this dish, loveliest fish dish I’ve had in a long time….guilluame (5)

….and even better with a dollop of bernaise on top!guilluame (6)

Oxtail with carrot, bone marrow, parsley guilluame (7)

Melt in the mouth wagyu and silky mash
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Meanwhile, Marito Vegacquarian has a pasta dish followed by a luxurious lobster risotto.  We informed them of his dietary situation at the time of booking and checked in one of the lovely staff on the night.  “Don’t you mean Pescatarian?” she says.  “No, I think Vegacquarian works”.  “Yes, yours is better, I’m going with it”.guilluame (8)

Our “pre-dessert” – mango with lychee and coconut – such a feather light cream combined with two of my favourite fruits.  Would have loved a big bowl of this. guilluame (10)

The main dessert is passionfruit soufflé crème anglaise, passionfruit and banana sorbet.  I’m not a soufflé chick, so can’t really opine here, but I would have happily taken a big bowl full of that crème anglaise. guilluame (11)

And in that lovely touch also seen at Vue De Monde, you get a goody bag to take home. Ooh la la! Its a lovely brioche and jam for breakfast.  One of my little men, who has a discerning palate, spread some of the jam on his toasted home made bread the next day.  “Is this professionally made”, he queried, “its much better than what we usually get”.  The cheek.guilluame (12)

The restaurant also offers a private dining room that can accommodate up to 14 people.

Guillaume, 92 Hargrave St, Paddington Ph 02 9302 5222
http://www.guillaumes.com.au/

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Felix Bistro and Bar, Sydney CBD

It was the birthday of our small fry, and their request for a meal out – some steak and pomme frites like they’d eaten in Paris.  Felix immediately sprung to mind.  I hadn’t been for at least a couple of years, and thought it would be good to return.  The décor is classic French bistro and the menu full of Gallic favourites.

I must comment on the service – it was really really impressive – great attention to detail, prompt, thoughtful – we felt so well looked after, compliments to the team on the floor that day.

The last time I went I regretted not ordering seafood – I saw plates of it being delivered to neighbouring tables and it looked great.  This time I would not miss out and started with half a dozen oysters. The oysters were fantastically fresh with a tangy red wine vinegar and shallot dressing.

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As it was a warm day I then opted for a salad – king crab, prawn, eggplant, quinoa  and pickled beetroot  – an unusual combination that worked, but I really would have liked some crisp baby cos to take it up another notch

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Perfectly cooked salmon with sauce soubise (an onion sauce), peas and broadbeans

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And the steak and pomme frites? I didn’t get to take a photo of it, it was devoured so quickly, but I did get a nibble and the steak had a fabulous flavour to it – not sure if it was cooked over some kind of wood?

We also tried the tarte tatin – its meant for two and is quite huge.  Oh, the pastry, the pastry!

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I’ve got my eye on the seafood platter for next time.

Felix Bistro and Bar, 2 Ash Street, Sydney, Ph (02) 9240 3000
Felix Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Ananas Bar and Brasserie, The Rocks, Sydney

029French food – I’m thinking foie gras, confit, tarte tatin. Pineapples – I’m thinking Hawaii, cocktails, Summer. So where the name Ananas, the French word for pineapple, fits in, I’m not quite sure. I ask the question and apparently in France in the 1700’s, pineapple was considered a luxury item. This provided the inspiration for this upmarket French brasserie in the Argyle building in The Rocks, with an attractive bar space which you walk through to get to the restaurant. The atmosphere is great, and the music pitched at the right volume, so you can actually talk to people and hear them. Ananas recently scored a Hat in the Good Food Guide awards.

As I arrive there is no one at the door, and I’m left waiting for quite a while before I begin to wander to find a staff member. It’s a small oops in an otherwise great evening – through our meal our waitstaff that evening are attentive, polite, and well informed, and the restaurant manager comes by later in the evening to check we were happy.

It is difficult to decide on entrees because they all sound appealing, so we decide to try more of those and only one main course. We start with duck liver & armagnac parfait and rabbit rillettes, accompanied by toasted brioche. The parfait has great texture and I love the rillettes, fantastic flavour.

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We follow on with a brandade of house salted cod, baby fennel, softly poached quails egg, which has a nice hit of citrus and is pleasant to eat.

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The lobster ravioli with the tomato is an almost perfect dish, and I mop up the delicious bisque with my bread, not wanting to leave it on the plate. What stops it from being perfect is the unexpectedly cold topping, I would have prefered it all to be hot.

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The only let down of the entrees was the wild mushroom pappardelle with hen’s egg and truffle – way underseasoned and bland, needed a punch of something. You could smell the truffle when it was set down on the table, but couldn’t really taste it while eating it.

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For our main course we debate between the lamb and the snapper, and the waiter strongly encourages the latter. The snapper comes with a blue swimmer crab and squid risotto – it’s a stand out dish, with perfectly done fish. (Hey, I rhymed!)

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When it comes to dessert, the waiter does point out the eclairs – “we want to do for eclairs what Zumbo has done for the macaron”, but we aren’t feeling eclair-ish that night. I have my eye on the Ananas four ways (chip, sorbet, consomme, caramelised) with the coconut mousse, and I love it, it is fresh and unique.

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We also opt for the Snickers Revolution, a chocolate and peanut dish. Beautifully presented; chocolate desserts aren’t really my thing, but if you like chocolate, you will love this.

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I forgot to order the truffle pomme puree which a friend said was the Best. Ever. Truffle. Mash. Oh well, next time, and I’m pretty sure there will be one.

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018035Ananas Bar & Brasserie, 18 Argle St, The Rocks, ph (02) 9259 5668

http://www.ananas.com.au
Ananas Bar & Brasserie on Urbanspoon