Saturday, 3 November 2012

Montrachet - Paris near the heart of Brisbane

Jusqu'à la route sinueuse à un coin de paradis gastronomique réside un bout de Paris à Brisbane ville.
Paris on the edge of Brisbane

High in the hills of Brisbane town....  Well, not really, just up the road in Paddington resides one of Brisbane's gems.  It is my opinion that Montrachet is arguably the most successful restaurant in Brisbane, how else could you explain a fine diner that is only open for dinner from Monday to Thursday evening?

While Paddington does not have a very Parisian feel to it, once you walk through the doors of Montrachet you are whisked away to a lovely traditional French Bistro that would not be out of place in any small town or big city in France.  Like all great French restaurants where you are likely to see the proprietor greeting his guests or fussing in the kitchen, Thierry Galichet is indeed behind the bar hovering near the kitchen.  Thierry is the proud owner of Montrachet and head chef and it must be said is a master of his domain, in all ways.  Montrachet was opened in 2004 and in that time has had the privilege of being one of Brisbanes most popular restaurants and has been since it first opened.  Montrachet of course has a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Hat, but in the past has been the recipient of two Hats and once held the title of Brisbane top restaurant.

It had been a good five months since I last visited Montrachet, it was a special treat then with one of my best mates, The Big Boy (henceforth known as BB) who was having a final 'fancy' dinner with his very pregnant wife before they went overseas to have the baby.  Well, the BB recently returned from Taiwan and after not seeing much of each other for a few months and I could think of no better place to return that his favourite restaurant in Brisbane!

It was a lunch date and we were allowed to enter the restaurant 5 minutes before opening, which was great way to stop us hovering at the door.  Its strange, I have never been inside Montrachet with so few people in it, normally it's dinner and it's wall to wall people; it was a bit of a strange feeling.  On the up side, we were the centre of attention from the excellent wait staff and after only a few minutes of serious decision making, had our entrees and mains sent off to the kitchen in short order.

No photos of the entrees but the
fresh baguette was perfect for the
Ravioli Sauce 
It's funny, the BB is 6'5" tall and pretty much every time we go out to eat together he orders the dainty entree and wonders at sizeable entrees I normally have placed in front of me.  Today was no exception!  I ordered the Ravioles des Crevettes Sauce Basquaise Fresh (Prawn ravioli with olive oil, tomato, garlic, fresh herbs and a touch of cognac).  The entree was massive, and could easily have passed for a main.  The ravioli was perfectly cooked and the pasta fine yet firm and al dente.  The prawn was subtle in taste and firm in texture, but the star of the show was the sauce.  It was sensational.  For those of you that have not been to Montrachet, I can tell you that Thierry is a saucier par excellence.  There was a hint of garlic but a freshness of the herbs, that combined with the ravioli was devine.  The best thing?  All of the fresh baguette at the table to mop up the sauce!

The big boy selected Salade de Crabe (Fresh crab tossed with coriander and chilli served with tomato jelly and avocado mouse).  The crab salad was beautifully presented atop a disk of a deep red tomato jelly, with contrasting green of the avocado.  The BB loved this dish, even though there was not a lot of food on the plate (yes, he definitely had food envy of my very large entree). I had a little taste of the jelly, crab meat and avocado and I have to agree, the combination was a marriage made in French heaven.

You may be wondering why there are no photos of the entrees.  All I can say is disaster!  My iPhone 5 decided that it was going to fail and fail only for the photos I took of the entrees :(  There is a lesson here for me and I will now be taking my trusty camera with me.

My main was the Chevreuil Forestiere (Seared venison sirloin served with mixed wild mushroom sauce, brocolini and olive oil lemon dressing).  This was another triumph for the kitchen with a spectacularly deep and rich mushroom sauce that accompanied the venison.  I do love a gamey meat and the venison met my expectations, with that deep meaty flavour that you don't get from beef.  The combination of the mushroom sauce and venison is a classic and I was again very appreciative of the fresh and warm baguette to mop up the sauce.  I found the broccolini to be a little under cooked, probably to do with the thickness of the stems and did not really work with the deep sauce, apart from adding colour to the plate.

The mushroom sauce had a deep rich flavour

The BB chose a classic French dish, Filet de Boeuf, Frites, Salade (Eye filled cooked to your liking and served with green salad and homemade French fries, with a green peppercorn sauce).  I am not sure why this is classic french cooking, but 'steak & fries' has been on every french menu I have seen, even when travelling through France.  BB ordered his steak medium and it was pretty much perfectly cooked, perhaps just a touch over.  My preference is to let the Chef cook the steak to his preference but the BB does not like as much pink in the steak as me.  The green peppercorn  was a perfect match for the steak and the fries were thin and crunchy and perfect for mopping up the sauce, although the BB has a preference for fat chips he thought they were well cooked and not too dry as french fies often can be.

Eye fillet with french fries and green peppercorn sauce

When it came time for desserts the BB and I took very different approaches, with my choice being a classic French dessert and the BB going a cheese course.  As much as I wanted to go the Creme Brulee, I decided that another classic would be in order and chose the Notre Peche Melba (Peach melba; White chocolate cream with poached peach, raspberry coulis and topped with nougatine).  While it can be debated that a Peach Melba is not really a French classic, it was invented by French chef Augustine Escoffier in 1892 (albeit working in London's Savoy at the time).  This was the first time I had ever eaten a Peach Melba and while the dessert itself tasted great, I was disappointed in the presentation, coming out in a simple glass.  One of my only complaints about Montrachet is that the desserts are a little on the plain side, both visually and gastronomically.  While there was nothing wrong with the combination of the white chocolate cream and the raspberry coulis, there was nothing here to set the world on fire.  It pretty much sums up all of the desserts I have had here over the years.

Peach Melba - a little on the boring side

The Les Fromage (Cheese) that the BB ordered was the Morbier (Franch Comte) which is described as a semi soft, creamy cow's milk cheese with a flavour of nuts and fruit with an aroma of fresh hay.  The Morbier is quite pungent cheese and I could smell the aroma emanating from BB's side of the table.  It comes with a truffle infused honey, fresh baguette, crackers and apple.  The cheese was firm and spongy and combined with the assorted ensemble worked in perfect harmony.  A perfect end to a great meal for someone who does not have a sweet tooth.

Les Fromage - Morbier

I had advised the extremely friendly and attentive wait staff that I needed to be back at work by 2pm for a meeting and we completed our meal with time to spare.  By the time we finished our three courses many more had been seated and commenced their lunch, but it was still pretty empty for a Thursday afternoon lunch.  There is no doubt that the remnants of the Global Financial Crisis is still reverberating around the Brisbane lunch scene.

I really enjoyed catching up with the BB for lunch and Montrachet was the perfect location for us to catch up for a nice meal after a few months.  It's only a few weeks before his partner and newborn child follow him back to Brisbane and opportunities like this dry up (one would think).

Montrachet delivered a fantastic meal which met both of our expectations of what a classic French meal should be.  Even though the dessert was disappointing for me, it was not unexpected.  While Montrachet is a great hangout for a casual lunch with business partners or friends, I still find Montrachet a special place for the 'occasion' be it a birthday or anniversary dinner and there is no doubt I will be back again soon.  Hope to see you there.

Partir est un si doux chagrin, mais joyeux de savoir que je reviendrai. Bon appétit.


Montrachet on Urbanspoon


  1. Photos of fresh baguette, ravioli, green peppercorn or mushroom sauce, french fries, peach and cheese in Brisbane? Thanks.


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