Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bécasse: Let's do Lunch!

Left and below: the set GFM lunch of ballottine of Glenloth chicken with potato puree, sauté of mushroom and wilted spinach

It was with a mixture of delight and trepidation that I approached lunch at Bécasse.

Delight because it has been well publicised not only for the fantastic food adored by most critics, but also its recent restaurant of the year award. Delight in that I was fortunate enough to taste a sample of their style at the Growers markets recently in a cooking demo by Justin North. Delight because the menu looks divine.

Trepidation came in the form of a less than flattering (and in my opinion sourly mean spirited) review from Elizabeth Meryment in the Weekend Australian last week.

I don’t think someone who writes about food for a living should be so churlish as to criticise a French restaurant for writing some things on the menu in French, and then claim not to understand what they mean. And subsequently slap the place for not spontaneously explaining every term on the menu, when a request for elaboration had not been made. She commented that the waitress was abrupt to boot, and she didn’t like her table.

Trepidation also snuck up as a bit of attitude I received from the staff prior to my visit. A call many days prior to increase my lunch booking from three to four people was met with a terse “that’s not possible” and the receiver going down. Oh god, maybe Meryment was right? Gobsmaked, I calmed down and waited a few hours, rang back, spoke to a different staff member, and the same request was met with “certainly, no problem whatsoever”. Phew. Someone was having a bad day, but at this end of the market I don’t think you can afford to put people off.

However all was well on the day. I sat in the same part of the room as Meryment, and for my money they were the best seats in the house. A ringside view of the open kitchen and nine chefs executing the ballet of a busy production crew feeding the crowd in a two-hat restaurant that was fully booked. It’s a joy to see the precision and concentration of a team like that effortlessly producing the dishes on a substantial and complex menu. This ain’t grilled steak and potatoes.

Left: tropical fruit salad with Champagne jelly and yoghurt sorbet

Our $35 set lunch for Good Food Month consisted of ballottine of Glenloth chicken with potato puree, sauté of mushroom and wilted spinach. The confit leg is stuffed into the thigh, and then roasted and served with a reduction sauce. It is meltingly tender and intensely flavoured, the potato like a pillow of air mingling with the juices. The accompanying wine is a Brown Brothers red and the price includes coffee as well.

M can’t resist a dessert and orders the rum and muscatel omelette soufflé with Grand Marnier ice cream ($22 pictured left). Luckily we all get to taste a spoonful and it’s light and subtle flavour complements the dark squishy rum- soaked muscatels and tart orange of the ice cream. It’s preceded by a complementary tropical fruit salad with Champagne jelly and yoghurt sorbet to cleanse the palate, and our coffee comes with a delectable plate of dainty petit fours.

The staff are utterly charming, so I’m not sure who Meryment struck the night she went there or if she was being overly critical. The menus are available at the restaurant’s website, so have a read and see what’s on offer for the à la carte and dégustation menus. This sample, which given the restaurant’s high standards, is not only excellent value but is definitely a teaser for a return match. I’ll be back.

Clockwise from below: the petit four plate; chocolate macaroons; vanilla sablé with lemon curd; and shortcake with raspberry crème.


Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Those petit fours look so so divine. And an omelette souffle with rum and muscatel? Yum yum yum!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

They were divine, Helen. Actually better than the ones at Aria

6:57 AM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

The food looks great. I've never been to a two or three hatted restaurant before either, must try one day. If only the prices at those places weren't so high *sigh* :-(.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

That's why GFM is so good Thanh - you can try four top retaurants for the same price it usually costs to go to one. real bargain.

2:20 PM  

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