Bianca: Okay, I’ll admit, prior to dining at ‘France Soir’ I had never heard of it. It was sort of a last minute rush to find something after my Melbourne-ite brother Nick was locked in at his work and we scrambled to change our dinner plans. With a reservation cancelled at ‘Taxi Kitchen’, France Soir came up on my trusty Urbanspoon app – it ticked a few boxes, it was nearby, had a high score and mostly positive comments. I was sold. It was also a quasi-preparation for Alex as he’ll be heading off to Europe in July, surely he should experience some of that incredibly friendly French hospitality, ya know to prepare!
I have French relatives so I’ll keep the jibes to a respectable minimum. It was a bustling Wednesday eve when we stepped into the restaurant, chaotic would be a more apt word. Every table was full, we luckily called prior so we had a table locked in. Staff were brisk and perfunctory, if you’re expecting to be charmed off your socks you’re at the wrong place.
We were ushered towards the rear of the restaurant, near the swinging wooden doors that separate the dining room from the kitchen. I have never feared being knocked out cold by a swinging door more in my life.
We were handed menus and the wine list, something that would rival a Tolkien novel, we were also given a basket of some of the best baguettes I have eaten with a little pat of butter. We had to get two serves of this because Nick could eat a whole one just by himself.
Nick was still running late at this point due to his starring in his own version of ‘Panic Room’, so we ordered for him. He’s the fussy difficult one, so it generally makes things super easy when ordering. He had the ‘Entrocote’ – (Scotch Fillet) 250g Steak Frites, Salade $35.50. They happily accommodated his rare request and he was very pleased with his meal. I mean its steak and chips, what’s there not to like? No photo because Alex was too embarrassed and Nick was on the other side of the table.
Alex was really in that French provincial mood and ordered the ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ – casserole of beef in red wine $35.50. A hearty and generous serve, slow cooked so the delicate strands of meat fell apart at the slightest prodding. The sauce was thick and it was pretty obvious Alex was not keen to share this one.
Mum opted for the ‘Demi-caneton roti, a l’orange’ – Half roasted duckling with orange sauce $38.50. Duck is one of those things mum and I relish ordering when we dine out, the sauce was joyfully piquant, the first few bites of the breast portion mum did not enjoy but as she got stuck into the leg and thigh the flavours became more pronounced.
And lastly for myself, I had the ‘Magret de canard, pommes sautees’ – Whole duck breast with sautéed potatoes. $38.00. The duck was cooked to a beautiful pink and the skin was not as crispy as I would have liked it. I felt the flavour was a little lacking, I borrowed some of Nick’s wine jus for his steak and poured it over my duck which helped some. Whilst it was lacking in the taste department it was tender. A highlight of the dish were the little potatoes, I had to fight Alex off so he wouldn’t eat them all.
As everybody knows when on holidays a meal HAS to end with dessert, it’s like some unwritten law. Who am I to buck that trend? To appease Nick the fussy eater we got the ‘Mousse au chocolat’, $13.50. A very light and airy rendition, adorned with a tuille like biscuit which almost had a peanut butter taste. We asked one of the waiters what type of biscuit it was, he then promptly delivered the best one liner we repeated over and over on our Melbourne trip “It’s a biscuit”…. Thanks buddy!
And lastly we shared the ‘Crème Brulee’, $13.50. I’m ordinarily not one to finish a meal with a dessert like a crème brulee, they don’t really do much for me, I need chocolate!!. But I will concede, this was probably one of the best crème brulee’s I’ve tasted. Alex and mum particularly enjoyed it.
So I guess we should be saying a big thank you to Nick’s colleague who locked him in at work, a real French treat in the heart of Melbourne.