24 Russell St
Melbourne CBD, 3000
03 9207 7424
Now this post goes way back now, and sad to say I’m actually starting to suffer from food-blogger’s delayed-posting-syndrome. I’ve forgotten what things actually taste like… well sort of.
It was mum’s birthday, and as part of our birthday traditions (self proclaimed) we partook in a little French glam and gloss at Philipe Mouchel’s newest French addition to the Melbourne scene.
Positioned a few numbers off from Flinders lane on a fairly hush part of Russel Street, PM24 hardly strikes the naked eye with its muted black-and-white signage. Inside the dimlit – almost candlelight dim – restaurant simply embellished in an airy space. The open plan kitchen is, may I say, the centrepiece of action with Philipe Mouchel performing the final touches to dishes (bottom left).
A basket of bread (sorry to say I can’t remember what bread it was… sourdour?), served with a creamy almost alioli like mayonnaise.
Burgundy Style Snails – It is a green concoction of tomato acidity, garlic & parsely aromas, with a rich savoury of butter that envelops these little juicy morsels of escargot. These are incredibly scrumptious but equally very intense with garlic – which is precariously close to overpowering the snails. On the side was literally 3 chips of bread – stingy much?
Spanner Crab Cake – What on first look is a simple fried batter of mashed crab cake on a bed of coleslaw, turns out to be a fall-apart delicate compress of spanner crab meat. The light juiciness of the sea with a bit of buttery-crispy texture is matched well with a balsamic acidity and creamy celeriac.
Salmon & Ratatouille – When I read ratatouille on the menu, what came to mind was a large stew of coarsely chopped vegetables served in a big black pan/ pot wafting the aromas of herbs de Provence. To my surprise (and disappointment), the dish had the tiniest amount of finely chopped and slightly over salted vegetables. Whilst I must give credit for the salmon was cooked to perfection with a crispy covering, I’m not sure it melds heavenly with the altered rustics of a ratatouille.
Sirloin 280g – The moreish caramelisation of the shell alongside a lightly fragrant béarnaise sauce, unfortunately could not compensate for the tough, overly tendinous meat. It was served simply with pommes frites and long slender beans wafting a fragrance of butter, onion and garlic. This is possibly the least favourite of the night.
We also had sides of Hand cut French Fries, which were crispy, salty and nicely fluffy. (not pictured)
Pork Duo – For all pork lovers, please read on… The gelatinous pork tail is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth soft. Not to mention the light sausage of pork meat in place of a tail bone is a pleasant surprise. Lightly fried in a similar fashion to the spanner crab, the pork-cake was filled with fall apart braised meat that is absolutely divine. A bed of lentil ragout provided a subtle earthy base, with bit of savoury bite. This was – by far – the highlight of the night.
Hapuka – Again whilst reading the menu I found myself captivated by the images of an extravagant bouillabaisse filled with fish, shellfish and vegetables, but was left dazed when the Hapuka fillet and correctly labelled ‘Bouillabaisse fumet’ (fish stock) served with fennel and panisse was brought to the table. Putting my false expectations aside, the broth indeed had a worthy deep seafood intensity from much boiling and reducing, which there certainly wasn’t enough of on the plate. The thick slab of freshly-sweet hapuka had this lean bite to it, which really needed the savoury notes of the fish stock and added juicy sweetness of the fennel to make it complete.
…One day I should try to learn a bit of French, to save my preconceptions and imagination taking over…
Pistachio Souffle – With a perfect meringue rise and heavenly fluffiness, a rich pistachio aroma that complemented (rather than mask) the uplifting delight of a perfect egg white soufflé. The caramel icecream added an extra bitter sweetness, and a temperature contrast to keep things cool. I wish I could make such a perfect soufflé!!! yummO
Really I should’ve taken a photo of the inside, but by the time I put my camera down half of the soufflé had been inhaled down by three other eyeing eagles.
And as if that wasn’t enough already – I went ahead ordered a Dégustation of Bistro Classic. Top left: meringue wings with a refreshing deep red berry sorbet and simple vanilla bean ice cream. Top right: two small triangles of sweet tart on a short-buttery base (can’t remember what was on it though), served with a light barley ice cream. Bottom left: two deceptively small slides of chocolate mudcake that was incredibly rich, with a smooth creamy interior sandwiched between soft spongy layers, but is offset by a bitter layer of dark-dark chocolate. Bottom right: the rice pudding is a comparably non-sweet dessert that is worlds apart from the other items of sweet decadence. In a sense it detracts from the whole plate, but I found it a welcome change and offset. My parents could not stop complaining it tasted like porridge…
Rating: almost certainly Yummy+1, with a number of glitches that makes it fall quite short of +2. There is no doubt a lot of finesse that can be seen in the cooking, but in retrospect it is quite pricey for the hit and miss experience. I think there is always a danger with adding modern twists on age old recipes, which can either make or break the dish.