Melbourne Restaurant Reviews: The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel

Riverside at Crown
8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 9292 7808
http://www.thebrasserieatcrown.com.au/

I know this site needs a little Backyard Blitz-ing at the moment but if it weren’t for Jan, who helped me with CSS issues, I would not have even had it up and running over the weekend. To express my gratitude, I decided to take her out to lunch on Saturday. Because Jan has not yet visited a hatted restaurant, I decided a good starting point for her would be The Brasserie by Phillippe Mouchel at Crown. With their tasty, simple French fare at a steal for $43 for two courses (or $48 for three) at lunchtime, it’s a good place to take anyone who has yet to have a fine dining experience without intimidating them. Plus, portion sizes are reasonable given the price so your companion does not need to worry about having to rush to Maccas after lunch to get some “proper food” to fill themselves up.

Although the temperature was slightly chilly, we decided to sit outside under a gigantic Bollinger umbrella. As we nibbled our warm ciabatta rolls  – dipped in a lovely, fruity Jindi olive oil and home-made dukkah – we decided to go for the three course option.
(Yeah, we got charged $12.85 for mineral water. I should have said “tap water” rather than just “still”).

This was my Trimbach Riesling ($14). It only arrived AFTER I received my main which I wasn’t too happy about. Their excuse for not giving me the glass earlier on was because they “ran out and had to get another bottle from an outside source.” While I appreciated their efforts in going out of the way to get the drink I wanted, I thought that they could have, oh I don’t know, suggested an alternative white wine out from their extensive list? I mean, I would have been just as happy with the Dr Loosen.

Jan’s entrée: king salmon gravlax with dill and yuzu mayonnaise, egg condiment, toasted sourdough. We’ve seen this dish featured in a lot of peoples’ blogs so we figured that it would be like, WOAH. While I liked the way they presented the salmon in various forms (a cooked strip with the crispy skin on and as a “tartare” with chopped boiled egg), I just didn’t think it tasted that special.

My entrée: wagyu carpaccio with mozzarella, field mushrooms, green bean and Parmesan salad. When I gave the waitress my order, she arched one impossibly arched eyebrow and asked me, in a mildly condescending way not dissimilar to the manner in which a Greek waiter at Kouzina once asked me if I actually had Greek food before, “Do you know what a carpaccio is?” I think I must have given her a ‘bitch, please’ look as I replied, “Yes, I DO know what carpaccio is” because she immediately softened her expression before telling me that the restaurant makes her that question. It turns out that a lot of people order the dish just because it has the word ‘wagyu’ in it but they do not know what a carpaccio is. Hence, when they are presented with a plate of raw beef, they kick up a stink. Fair enough, I guess.

Anyway, my carpaccio was lovely. Probably one of the better versions I’ve had so far, and arguably on par with Bottega’s fine specimen of a carpaccio. I was worried that the Parmesan salad would overpower the delicate flavour of the wagyu but it actually complemented it quite well. A highly recommended entree.

Jan’s main: duck leg confit with potatoes salardaise, rock and endive salad and poached duck egg. I reckon Jan chose wisely as this duck was simply divine. It was so tender that each sliver of duck meat fell easily off the bone with a prod of a fork and so full of flavour. What I liked the most about this dish was the little crumbed croquette-like ball that was sitting prettily on the plate…

… Once cut open, it revealed a soft-boiled duck egg. Oh effing yum.

Compared to Jan’s main, my pan-seared scallops weren’t all that spectacular but it was nice all the same. There were a total of five succulent scallops – thankfully all of a decent size – all of which took centre stage in a puddle of heedy Argan oil broth, supported by a medley of artichokes, carrots and coriander pesto. Although we both felt that the broth was perhaps a tad too salty (though not so salty that you couldn’t taste the natural sweetness of the scallops), we both thought it was nevertheless a tasty dish.

The side dishes that came with our mains. Jan got a serving of tasty kipfler potatoes with rosemary and Parmesan (background) which were a better choice to my okay-but-nothing-exciting sauteed green beans with confit shallots.

The great finale: the dessert tasting plate, presented on a wooden board.

From L-R:

-Tonka bean creme brulee (lovely flavour and texture, but thumbs down to the skin which was soft rather than hard)

-Pistachio sorbet (it would have been good had it not been for the unnecessary usage of almond flavouring in it)

- Lemon Sorbet with pineapple, passionfruit and coconut cream (my favourite dessert – it was an intricate layer of flavours and texture. Thumbs up to the lovely meringue base too)

- Rum baba soaked in cointreau, mango pieces with whipped cream (I effing hate rum baba so I do not have an opinion on this one)

- Dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce (I’m not sure what percentage of cocoa was used but it must have been around 80-90% as it was so rich and bitter. I’m glad the raspberry sauce was there to counteract all of that cocoa.

A close-up of the dark chocolate mousse.

The bill came to $122.85 but thanks to the Entertainment book discount, we got it down to $92.15. Apart from a few service issues (my chair was kicked by a waiter who did not apologise, the waitress forgot our orders and so had to recite them again and my card was dropped on the ground), we had an enjoyable meal. Food-wise, there weren’t too many surprises but sometimes all you need to make you happy is honest, reliable French fare that doesn’t involve bells and whistles.

Brasserie By Philippe Mouchel on Urbanspoon

2 Comments on The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel

  1. Jan
    March 1, 2010 at 21:57 (4 years ago)

    Awesome review Libby!
    Thanks for taking me there :D and of course this becomes my very first memory of fine dining!

    Reply
  2. Adam
    March 3, 2010 at 14:44 (4 years ago)

    Great photos lib! :)

    Reply

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