It begs the question – how DO French women stay so thin?
Subiaco is now home to at least three French restaurants all within a few hundred metres of each other. I have already visited Bistro Felix, an extraordinary but incredibly pricey foray into the world of French cuisine. Tonight, my husband and six month old baby visited Le Brasserie de Paris. It's the one with the little Eiffel Tower out the front. Covered in twinkling fairy lights. Oh la la.
The dinner menu can be approached in two ways – as a straight forward al la carte menu (all entrees are $19, all mains $31 and all desserts $12), or you can have three courses for $57, a saving of $5. It seemed like a better deal before I did the math. Still, three courses for less than $60 is a steal in Perth and the food was very enjoyable, the servings more than sufficient and the service thoughtful and attentive.
Because we had the baby, we arrived as early as we could and I am glad we did. Normally a placid, quiet baby, she decided she would shriek and holler her way through the three courses, throw her toys on the floor, do a poo during main course, and shred the paper which was covering the table. Awesome. We are those people that childless diners hate. This is why we arrived at 5.45pm when the sun was still high, inhaled our three courses and bolted a little before 7pm.
I had wandered in off the street two nights previous, more than a little dishevelled and asked for a booking for the Saturday coming. The owner took only my name and farewelled me. And tonight he was there greeting me by name as soon as we opened the door. He had chosen us a table with plenty of space for the pram. Obviously small babies and children are not their typical patron since they did not have a high chair for the baby, and she sat on our laps for the entire meal. It seemed a safe assumption that if they didn't have a high chair, they were hardly going to have a change table. Luckily we were some distance from the nearest diner.
We were presented with some complimentary bread and butter. It may seem a small point, but the butter was soft and spreadable. They had the foresight to take it out of the fridge well before service, so we weren't digging up the bread. The bread was delicious, but small. I guess that was because they didn't provide side plates and they expected you to eat it all in one go. Simple enough assuming you don't have a grabby baby in your lap.
First course, I had to have the snails. Petite pomme de terre aux escargot: little hollowed out potatoes with snails, liberally covered in garlic and parsley butter, small cubes of fresh tomato, a deliciously dressed salad and a fine 'crumb' of sorts… almost a sand. Very curious but tasty. The potatoes were a bit too al dente, and I will smell like garlic for a week, but it was very enjoyable.
Number 1 hubby ordered what he called 'the tasting plate'. The menu called it assiette 'brasserie de paris': with duck rillettes, mortadella, salami, gherkins and bread. He wasn't a fan of the duck rillettes (basically a duck pate) as he found it too fatty. Me, I love duck fat, so quite enjoyed it.
Other entrees include sweet potato soup with prawn ravioli, French onion soup, and prawn ravioli in seafood sauce. I'm guessing the prawn ravioli must be a house special.
For mains I ordered the cuisse de canard confit et pomme de terre salardaise, which was a duck leg confit, sautéed potatoes with onion and bacon and another deliciously dressed salad. The highlight of this dish was the sautéed potato – tiny little chat potatoes had been sliced into dinky coin sized disks, cooked perfectly, then fried with bacon and onion.
The baby helped herself to a side of creamy (and buttery and salty) mashed potato. It was very filling but she really liked it (despite her expression in the picture).
Other mains include scallops with chorizo, tomato and prawn pasta, roasted chicken breast with porcini mushrooms and lamb shanks with kidney beans. My misguided impression that French cooking was a light and delicate cuisine was being put to the test.
To finish – and we needed to do it quickly as the baby was getting a bit feral – I ordered the ile flottante a la crème anglaise: floating islands to you, me, and anyone who has ever watched MasterChef. I was a little surprised when they came out. I was expecting two small, perfectly formed quenelles of meringue floating in a sea of warm custard (what? I learn stuff from MasterChef). Instead I got three, large, cubist shapes of meringue, which had been scooped out of the bowl. The crème anglaise was cold. Very tasty, but it just goes to show how TV can ruin your expectations.
My husband ordered the dish of the night, a warm chocolate fondant (all gooey centred and delectable) with vanilla icecream. He let me try a tiny bite. It was a bit mean actually.
Other desserts include sorbet, profiteroles, clafoutis, chocolate mousse, and crème brulee, once again proving that the French rule when it comes to desserts. Next time, I wonder whether they will let me have three courses of dessert.