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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel (Southbank)
The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel is a restaurant that I have a soft spot for. I used to dine here almost every Sunday for lunch, then unfortunately work got in the way so I do not get a chance to eat here all that often these days. With food this good though, I really should make time.

The Brasserie is located along the Yarra River in Southbank and is part of the Crown entertainment complex. Don’t let that put you off though. Crown is becoming Melbourne’s premier dining precinct, and this restaurant is one of the best in that precinct. The Brasserie is a modern French restaurant, headed by famous chef Philippe Mouchel, who has trained and worked at many famous restaurants across the world with notable examples in France, Hong Kong and Australia. His resume includes names such as the Michelin starred Hotel Frantel in Bordeaux and restaurant Roger Verge in Mougins. He has also opened restaurants for the legendary Paul Bocuse across the globe, as well as opening Restaurant Paul Bocuse in Melbourne and working at a number of famous restaurants across the nation before settling at Crown in 2004. The Brasserie is a slightly less formal establishment and ultimately aims to serve a diverse range of simplified, perfectly cooked dishes, which will satisfy even the most discerning of diners.

The restaurant looks great as well. A modern fit out with the dining room split into two lower floor sections, as well as an outside terrace, and a mezzanine level, used primarily for private functions. Tables are draped in thick white linen and the cutlery, glassware and serving ware are all of a very high quality, as you would expect from such an establishment. The views from the restaurant are great as well. Looking directly onto the Yarra, and during the evening you get the added spectacle of the hourly flame shows put on by Crown.

The meal starts with good bread, Jindi olive oil and a house made dukkah. Soon after your selections arrive. The menu is diverse and divided into sections: Entrees, plats de résistance, piece de boeuf, poisons, garnitures etc. Dishes are written in English and also have a French translation, which is nice to see. On this occasion I order a couple of dishes, which I know will be good. I start with the salmon gravlax as and entrée and decide on the duck as a main.

Tasmanian cured salmon, spelt blini, crème fraîche and condiments ($19.00)
Gravlax de saumon de Tasmanie, blini d'épeautre, crème fraîche et condiments:
This is an excellent starter and the presentation of the dish is immaculate. Covering the plate is the thinly sliced cured salmon. It has a really fresh taste to it and just a hint of saltiness. The salmon is then drizzled with a house-made parsley infused oil, which I am told is made with truffle oil and infused parsley to create a wonderful aromatic dressing for the fish. Rimming the salmon is a wonderful combination of flavours including diced egg, capers, shallots, parsley and dill and in the middle of the plate is a quenelle of thick crème fraîche, which adds an extra dimension to the dish, and a soft blini, which has the texture of a fluffy omelette. A sensational starter. Quite generous and very satisfying. I could eat this every day.
Wine Pairing: 2007 Carlei Green Vineyards Pinot Gris ($12) - A sensational white that matched with this dish perfectly.

Duet of roasted duck breast and braised leg, figs, spiced jus ($38.50)
Salmis de canard en bigarade jus aux épices:
Another stunningly presented plate of food. On one side of the plate is the sliced duck breast and on the other is a round of slowly braised leg meat. The accompaniments include slow roasted fig, and onion compote. The dish is then finished with a sweet jus and the dish is topped with some crispy potato chips. The duck breast is cooked perfectly. It is slightly pink on the inside, with perfectly rendered crispy skin on the outside. It saddened me to see a nearby diner cutting away and discarding all the skin from their duck – what a waste of amazing flavour :(. The leg meat was also well cooked and seasoned, and the fig served as a nice accompaniment. This was again an excellent dish that I really enjoyed.
Wine Pairing: 2005 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir, Burgundy ($16.50) - Any excuse for a French red will do. This one was fairly good.

Side dish: Potato and leek gratin ($6.50)
Gratin de pomme de terre et poireaux:
Simple, creamy and well made. Soft potato discs and leek with a cheesy top. It is not as good as the gratin at Rockpool, but is acceptable enough for me to finish most of it :).

After a short break I decide that I should order dessert and being the chocolate fan that I am there is a dish that immediately stands out.

Kennedy & Wilson chocolate degustation – chocolate fondant, spicy ganache, ice cream ($17.00)
Assiette de chocolat tart, ganache épicée, crème glace:
This dish was chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – literally. The dessert comprised of three different chocolate items: a rich chocolate tart, with a perfect short crust, topped with gold leaf. A chocolate ganache sauce spiked with what seemed to be cinnamon and clove; and a creamy, rich chocolate ice cream that was unfortunately quite melted by the time it reached the table. This was good, but possibly a chocolate overload. What am I talking about – there’s no such thing as too much chocolate. Is there?

The Brasserie is a great overall dining experience with excellent service, well prepared food and a nice modern fit out. They also have a fantastic lunch special, as does neighbouring restaurant, Number 8, another favourite of mine. At lunchtime you can choose any two courses plus a side dish for only $37.90, or three courses for $43.90, about half what you will pay to eat here at dinner. The fantastic thing about this special is that you can choose just about anything from the menu, except for a few premium items such as lobster or Wagyu so what are you waiting for? Head on up to Southbank and enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of Melbourne’s best French restaurants at a price that will make you want to come back.
(I believe they have just this week raised the lunch price to $42.90 - 2 courses, $48.90 - 3 courses, which is still good value.)

The Brasserie receives a score of 15 out of 20 and was awarded one chefs hat in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide.

My score: 16.5/20 - Food: 8.5/10 Service: 4/5 Ambience: 4/5

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  posted at 3:12 PM  

At November 22, 2007 at 10:25 AM, Blogger claire said...

Ooooooh, gravlax.... that could almost make me overcome my Crown boycott!

And yes, I realise that the only one being hurt by my Crown boycott is me... :)

At November 22, 2007 at 11:00 AM, Blogger Jon! said...

lol! The gravlax was amazing. I am still getting over the fact that they took the tuna tartare off the menu last year. I know the dish cops a lot of slack by reviewers but the version at the Brasserie was unbelievable - probably the best entree I have ever eaten (sigh).

Happy eating, Jon!

At April 1, 2008 at 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the price for lunch special rose to 42.90 / 48.90 for x-mas period. It actually just went up to $44 for the 3 courses, a rise of 10 cents.

The food here is very good for the price but the service is more often than not lousy. i went last week and they also served dead oysters which the waiter admitted were not freshly shucked as stated on menu. also, they usually give 3 prawns for the prawn fritter entree, i got just 2. not a big deal but rude.

At April 1, 2008 at 7:28 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

Interesting to read your comments anon. I have eaten here many (10+) times and have never experienced food or service quality problems. Yes, a little rude with the prawns - have not knowingly experienced this, but have overheard them telling other tables at lunchtime that you can only get 4 oysters as part of the lunch special, which kind of surprised me. I still think its great value at lunch time for the largely exceptional food on offer.

At February 9, 2022 at 2:56 AM, Anonymous Keaton said...

Great post thhankyou


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