Archive for the ‘North Melbourne’ Category
500 Victoria Street
North Melbourne VIC 3003
Tel: (03) 9329 5228
Located just around the corner from the bustle of Errol Street lays this charming French restaurant is tucked away between a couple of random shops.
Blink and you could miss it.
Walk inside, and you are welcomed into this elegant dining room by the very refined but friendly staff.
This tiny restaurant is decadent in many ways, from the large gold gilded mirrors, wood-panelled walls, the chandeliers, and the gastronomic delights that are to be had.
This place is so chic, and oh so French.
The Suckling Pig Banquet is available at Libertine for groups of 10 or more. It is served á la Normande with roasted baby vegetables, presented whole and then carved by Nick for $75 per person including a choice of three entrees and three desserts. The restaurant requires a weeks notice pre-pig.
Choice of entrees were; Chevre & potato paupiette with sweet corn basil soup, terrine du jour on toasted sour dough & pear chutney, or Hervey Bay scallops with a forest and mushroom ragout.
Everyone on our table chose either the terrine or the scallops.
The terrine du jour was a venison terrine. It was very appetising, and paired well with the pear chutney it was served with.
The scallops were absolutely devine. I’m so glad I chose this dish – this was my favourite dish consumed on the night. The scallop was just- cooked, the texture was so perfect and I cannot think of another way to describe it other than ‘bouncy, yet soft.’ The forest mushrooms were a delight, in flavour and again texture, and I’m not sure what the smear of orange sauce was, but it was fricken amazing.
And then.. onto the main event.
The waitress arrived with this pig on a silver platter in all its grandeur.
The pig (although sans pomme to the dismay of some of my companions) almost looked like he had a smile on his face, that he was happy he was sacrificing his little piggy life to be delicious in our bellies.
He was paraded around for a bit of a photo-shoot (with all us foodies and bloggers pulling out our cameras and firing away), then taken back to the kitchen where he was carved and dished up.
Each portion consisted of slabs of pork and crackling served atop creamy mash and a mustard sauce with mustard leaves. The meat was deliciously tender, however the crackling was a bit leathery and tough. That would be my only criticism of this dish, because it was wickedly heavenly.
In case we needed it, we were also given sides of extra creamy mash and buttered baby veggies.
After the main event, which I do not think any of us were able to finish, dessert was served.
Our choices were;
a passionfruit marshmallow with autum fruit and a seeded shard
a chocolate pave with warm plum mousse and almond crumbs,
and a crème caramel with Calvados, accompanied by herbal tea sorbet.
I chose the marshmallow, which thankfully, as I was already stuffed, was the lightest of the offerings. It was definitely an interesting dessert, different to anything I’d had before, but in a good way. The flavours were not intense – rather they were quite restrained and highlighted with the wonderful textures – contrasting between the softness of the marshmallow, the tenderness of the fruits and the crunch of the shard.
I had a taste of the other desserts, the chocolate pave was nice however a little “dark” for my liking but would have been loved by anyone who likes intense chocolately flavours. The creme caramel was delightful.
Overall a wonderful night, and many thanks to Gem from eat drink stagger for organising us all together. Can’t wait for the next one Gem!
Several weeks later, K, my fellow food-enthusiast and I were chatting over drinks and got talking about Boullaibaise night at Libertine. Both fans of Boullaibaise, well… let’s not fool ourselves, both fans of food with a shared craving for some Boullaibaise, we decided to organise a group together for Boullaibaise night at Libertine. On Wednesday evenings during half the year, Libertine puts together a Boullaibaise for $25. We finally got together a date, and I rang to book, only to be told that they had just had their last Boullaibase night and now that it was winter, Wednesday nights would be cassoulet night.
Disappointed, but not deterred, we decided to do cassoulet night.
On offering is a traditional Toulouse-style cassoulet for $25, during all Wednesdays in the colder half of the year.
On the specials menu, was an entree of snails. Given that we were in a French restaurant, we could not resist, and six delicate little morsels of snail meat (sans shell unfortunately) were brought, lightly panfried in garlic and butter.
And then onto the main event.
Cassoulet of the night was a confit duck, pork sausage and pork belly served atop a mélange of cannellini beans and vegies.
…and a closeup.
The duck skin was crisp, its meat luxuriously tender, the sausage had wonderful spice. The stew was hearty and filling, perfect for warming our bellies on a cold winter night. The couple of bottles of Pinot we had also helped. We consumed three bottles between the five of us, two of which included the 2007 Domaine des Nugues from Beaujolais – a wonderful, light, silky wine with nice berry overtones.
We also decided we needed some greens – and ordered buttered brussel sprouts – $8.50
and young beets, fennel & parsley – $8.50.
Brussel sprouts are one of those things that many people hate – and can be bitter and disgusting, but when cooked were are delightful. Libertine did not fail to please.
And although we were stuffed, we couldn’t resist the special souffle of the day – a white chocolate souffle. It was simply perfect – light, fluffy, delcieux.
Both nights spent in this wonderful little French restaurant were wonderful. Service was impeccible, food was perfect, the wine was wonderful and the company was amazing.
Taste: 9. Food is sinfully good. Very rich, but then, live a little.
Value: 9. With mains typically priced around the $35 mark, the $25 cassoulet represents excellent value. Eating a la carte is obviously not as inexpensive, however the food represents excellent produce cooked perfectly.
Service: 9. The wait staff are attentive, very professional yet friendly at the same time.
Atmosphere: 9. Wonderful.
Overall: 9. If you haven’t done it already, gather together some friends and head over to this charming establishment. Love it!
103-107 Errol Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
(03) 9326 7749
Auction Rooms is a cafe that I’m quite familiar with as I’ve been going there regularly since its opening in 2008. Since then, it’s come a long way, both food menu and coffee roast-wise. Back in the old days, Auction Rooms (given that it occupies an old Auction House) used to have a very auction inspired menu with names of dishes such as ‘opening bid’, ‘counter bid’, ‘shady bid’, etc. These have given way to new dishes, some of which are much improved on the old ones. One of these newbies is the Smoked trout with a poached egg, and bubble and squeak. A delicious dish that has a rustic English flavour to the name but that is surprisingly elegant, despite perhaps a little too much olive oil. The richness of the trout doesn’t overpower the ‘bubble and squeak’, and the single poached egg seems to complement the dish perfectly.
Coffee-wise, Auction Rooms roast its own under the name Small Batch. They have two mini-roasters on site and one 12kg roaster off-site (but nearby) allowing them to play around with different blends and single origins quite a bit. I had a strong latte in their regular blend which was good, solid, with coffee cutting through the milk well and fairly balanced. I also had an espresso in their Costa Rican Finca La Pira which had a strong body of chocolate and malt, a very pleasant coffee. I’d like to add that the latte had a pretty decent rosetta in it, impressive latte art for a random pour served to a random punter.
All in all, I feel the Small Batch roast has come a long way since its inception and I was fairly impressed. If you haven’t been here yet, now is a great time to head over, these guys may well be doing big things and very soon.
Food Taste: 8/10.
Coffee Taste: 9/10.
Ambience: 8/10. I’ve always been a fan of the whole exposed brick, warehousey, airy, wood-panel-based, roofbeam thing that Melbourne does so well.
Overall: 9/10. One of Melbourne’s best.