I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published December 10th 2012
So Frenchy, so chic, c'est magnifique
I have to say that it was with a little trepidation and a truckload of curiosity that Comedy Relief and I headed out into a perfect Brisbane evening for our dinner date at Boucher French Bistro. Never in my life have I heard such varying reports about a restaurant as the ones about Boucher that circulate through the cyber criticsphere. And it didn't stop with internet anonymity. Even amongst friends and family reviews were so staggeringly different to make me wonder if they were all talking about the same restaurant. So we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best and decided that whatever happened we could just chalk it up to culinary experience.
I'll say right up front that Comedy Relief and I are hardly what you would call gourmands. But we do love to eat out and we appreciate good food, fresh flavours and the thrill of discovering a new dining gem. And at Boucher, that's exactly what we got.
The old school debater in me is always up for an argument (just ask Comedy Relief, though I prefer to call it a critical discussion) so settle in while I address the criticisms I've heard about Boucher.
"Boucher has poor service"
The arguments from the Affirmative Team This is perhaps the most criticised aspect of Boucher on do-it-yourself review websites. Comments I've read range from "service is adequate but hardly tip worthy" and "didn't make us feel very welcome" to the far more scathing "couldn't wait to brush us out the door for failing to gush and sing their praises". Whew!
I have to say, that the service we received at Boucher was not merely adequate but excellent throughout the entire evening. From the greeting of our waitress, to the timely service of our wine and even to the tentative water service of someone who was clearly just beginning her waitressing career, the service was friendly, knowledgeable and appropriately attentive. We could not fault it.
"The level of noise at Boucher makes it impossible for you to enjoy your meal"
The arguments from the Affirmative Team Boucher's noisy atmosphere is more cannon fodder for online critics. Comments include "The restaurant is extremely noisy, I could hardly hear what my friend was saying to me" and "We left within 1.5 hours just so we could escape the noise".
The arguments from the Negative Team Yes, Boucher is noisy. We went on a Saturday night and the restaurant, which is very small, was at capacity. We were seated at a table next to the small thoroughfare used by the wait staff to move about the restaurant, so there was someone constantly flitting by. The atmosphere was certainly vibrant rather than relaxed but we quite liked the general hubbub of conversation and the sounds of chairs scraping, glasses clinking and people enjoying themselves. Comedy Relief and I were perfectly able to conduct a conversation, with the added bonus that it was private - no possibility of eavesdropping here.
"The food at Boucher is average and not worth the price you pay"
The arguments from the Affirmative Team This seems to be the main area for polarising views of Boucher. Many reviews praise its menu and the quality of food but there are plenty like the stinging, "With one or two exceptions, the food was barely passable" or "if you compare to French restaurants in Paris, it would be average and competing against better cafes and restaurants with cheaper prices". Ouch!
The arguments from the Negative Team
Beyond the fact that it seems useless to be comparing Boucher with Paris Restaurants, except to show that the reviewer has been to Paris, our main courses were excellent.
Comedy Relief usually opts for steak when we dine out and his Wagyu Rump was tender, cooked to perfection and satisfying, and the accompanying pommes frittes & béarnaise sauce delicious. My crisp skin duck breast and confit leg in crépinette was perfectly pink, flavoursome and moist. It was served with a golden, sweet-yet-tart pear tarte tain with mascarpone and silky, delectable creamed cauliflower. The steamed vegetables accompanying both our meals achieved that lovely state of al dente perfection.
With main courses at around $35 and desserts between $10 and $17, we thought that the price reflected the value. Because of other pressing engagements we had to forego desserts on this occasion, but their selection includes favourites of mine like crème caramel, citrus pudding and crème brulée, so I'll definitely be sampling one of those on a return visit.
And there will be a return visit. There's a marble-topped bar as you enter that just begs you to linger over a pre-dinner drink. The stylish decor includes dark grey walls adorned with gilded mirrors and pictures, fresh white napery, parquetry flooring and bentwood chairs. Very chic indeed.
Perhaps those who would compare Boucher with Parisian eateries, should go to Paris for what they see as an authentic French foodie experience. Comedy Relief and I will be more than happy to return to Boucher for our fix of French food, service and ambience. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenneger "We'll be back".