A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published July 7th 2016
Foie Gras, fries, fondant and the best of fine French food
You know it must be a very special gourmet event when you find yourself in the company of such great names as Jacques Reymond, Rita Erlich, Guy Grossi, Gabriel Gaté and Geoff Slattery. Such is the regard they have for celebrated French chef Philippe Mouchel, that they were all present to celebrate the opening of his long awaited eponymous venue, Phillipe. Rita for one felt Philippe's return was overdue; as she put it, "It's about bloody time!"
Tucked away downstairs in a laneway just off Collins Street, Philippe boasts a bar and restaurant offering - as Philippe Mouchel describes it - "a warm and convivial French bistro style" with "food made with the best seasonal produce we can find".
Philippe Mouchel's new venue has just opened in Melbourne
The subterranean venue space has been extensively refurbished to give it a light, bright, fresh and modern feel - offering a warm haven on a cold Melbourne night.
The main room in the restaurant - 'warm and convivial' environment
In terms of the food on offer, there are separate bar and restaurant menus. If you are ordering from the bar menu, I can highly recommend the 'oysters in sea water jelly with a watercress chantilly' ($5.50) - without question the best oyster dish I've tasted.
You might also select the bresaola (air dried, salted beef) ($15) or the 'tin of CuCa artisan sardines in olive oil' ($15).
From the restaurant menu, perhaps start in a traditional French way with 'escargots with parsley and garlic butter, with tomato, mint, parsley crust' ($19). If snails are not your thing, the 'chestnut veloute, mushroom emulsion, King mushroom crisp' ($19) sounds like a winner.
We asked Philippe for his main course recommendation from the restaurant menu. His suggestion was a dish that was a favourite among patrons at a previous restaurant, PM24 - the 'chicken rotissoire, mushrooms, potatoes, natural jus' ($35). The other rotisserie dish on the menu 'rotissoire lamb shoulder, grilled broccolini, borlotti bean ragout, natural jus ($70 - serves two people) has my mouth watering and I can't wait to try it.
Philippe (centre, with Gabriel Gaté and Jacques Reymond) recommends the chicken breast rotisserie. Image credit: David Bignell.
For dessert, Philippe recommends the 'Michel Cluizel chocolate fondant, morello cherry' ($18). For something a little more rustic, try the 'baked quince, chestnut chantilly, lemon creme glacee' ($16).
There is an excellent wine list, with a strong emphasis on French and Yarra Valley wines. Start your meal with a sparkle and order a glass of the NV Pommery Brut Epernay ($22). Australian wines start from $14 per glass, or $50 per bottle. Note there is also a full bar, if wine is not your tipple.
There is an excellent wine list as well as a full bar
Philippe is located at 115 Collins Street, Melbourne (enter from George Parade). It's open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday, for dinner only (from 5pm) on Saturday, (closed on Sunday). For a reservation, call (03) 8394 6625.