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For the occasion of a GREAT friend’s birthday we wanted to take her (and her husband) to one of those fancy restaurants with the big wine lists, the very smooth cool waiters, the food with french words we didn’t know the mean of.
So we went to Libertine.
She (I assume a classy french restaurant is a she) has been open for 7 years now, and its my 4th visit now (though first in a few years). I booked online, and received a response straight away (on the day they were closed mind you).
Service was that smooth cool you get with classy sorts of restaurants. It was quiet (being a Tuesday evening), but our waiter was calm, engaging, explained the menu clearly and had a bloody cool moustache.
But food, we don’t head to a restaurant for the waiters (we don’t, do we?).
Entrée; Pork Belly with a bourdin noir and calvados mousse.
See. French words. Bourdin Noir is a black pudding, and calvados is a type of brandy. Now, as important as it is that your “bourdin noir” is going to be delicately cooked, and your “calvados mousse” is light and fluffy (you do hope those things… don’t you?), it’s all about the pork belly. It needs to be soft, sweet, and with a crispy skin. Libertine? Almost perfect. I would have preferred a crispier skin, but general consensus on the table (3 of out of 4 of us ordered it) was double thumbs up. The combination of the three key ingredients worked well. The crumble of the black pudding (or bourdin noir if you like) helped contrast the texture against the belly, while the mousse acted as its sauce, but cooler looking.
Main; Poached Tasmanian Ocean Trout, spanner crab ravioli and consomme.
I love spanner crab ravioli. Not only can i say each word individually, but there is something so delicate, decadent, and its something i would never bother to try cook myself. The fact that it came with Poached Ocean Trout (from Tasmania no less) was simply a bonus. And consomme? Love it. Can’t get enough of my consomme.
The trout was perfect. Soft and sweet, perfectly cook and melded well with the consomme. Unfortunately, the ravioli seemed a little hit and miss. One was perfect, however the other seemed a little cold and stiff, perhaps he simply wasn’t in the mood. Still, it was a delicious main, and if the moustached man wasn’t in the building, there was every chance of would have licked the bowl clean.
Dessert; Pear tarte Tatin and honeycomb icecream.
To be honest, we missed this a little. Not because it didn’t taste awesome, or because i’d had to undo the top button (on the pant), but because of the souffle our friends ordered. It was a special on the menu, and i have no idea what it came with, but it was bloody brilliant, and soft, and light and fluffy, and kudos to the chef for hanging around (i think there were only 2 table left when we ordered it) just to cook it up for us. I guess we were paying, but still. Anyways, the tarte was good, very rich, the icecream was great. Actually, the ice-cream was…. i don’t know. Magnificent? Its a multi-syllable word i know, but worth the extra typing.
Oh, and drinks. We must not forget drinks. We had a small glass of champagne each to start with but I love the idea they have of serving a number of their wines by the carafe. When you don’t want a whole bottle, you get a carafe. Well, I do.
Well, its pricey, but you’re getting those smooth cool waiters, and all those french words, and some very fine dining. For some great French cooking, I recommend it. There are some unique French flavors you wont get many other places (hey, you can even order yourself a plate of snails if you wish), the service is very attentive.
Rating: 16/20 (8/10 for food, 4/5 for service, 4/5 for value)
(Libertine in on Victoria Street in North Melbourne, check them at; http://www.libertinedining.com.au/main.html)
Photos courtesy of Libertine restaurant (in other words, i didn’t take them… they did!)