Whilst Sydney excels in Asian food, there is no doubt that Melbourne excels at European food. With that in mind, we decided to have French for our second dinner in Melbourne. After doing our research, we settled on A La Bouffe, situated on Toorak Rd, South Yarra.
The restaurant was bustling when we arrived, and we were glad to have made a reservation ahead of time. Our waiter for the evening was particularly warm and friendly, which made the experience all the more better. The restaurant consists of two levels, and whilst I would have enjoyed an upstairs table, apparently there was a function happening that evening.
We were promptly seated, and menus were provided.
Upon ordering, complimentary fresh bread (baguettes) were provided. Whilst it could have been better warmed, we were surprised and impressed with the waiter refilling it after we had finished. Having eaten around quite a bit in Brisbane, I can say that that's not something I've experienced up here, and it goes to show that a little generosity makes a big difference from the customer's perspective.
As a shared entree, we ordered the Steak Tartare. My confidante, being quite conservative in his tastes, wasn't so sure about eating raw beef. Nevertheless, I believe that that evening, I managed to convert him. The beef was very very fresh, and mixed with an egg sauce, onions and capers. We found it to be delightfully refreshing, strongly seasoned, and highly appetizing. As my confidante commented, it didn't taste like how he would have expected raw steak to taste like, but rather it tasted like something a lot more salad-y.
We ordered two mains to share. The first to arrive was the steak frites, served with a simple herbed butter on top. Despite the fact that it was not a particularly thick piece of steak, it was still served perfectly rare. The flesh was very tender and well seasoned, whilst the herb butter was definitely one of the best I'd ever had. The fries were freshly fried, and the portion was also very generous, however as it was served in a separate bowl to the steak, I would have appreciated some condiments to go with it, as it was unable to soak up the steak juices.
The other main we shared was the Duck A La Bouffe, being half a roasted duck on mash and spinach with an orange sour cherries and Cointreau sauce. Being used to the roast ducks that you get in Hong Kong style barbecues, I found this half duck to be a little small for a duck, nevertheless it was significantly bigger than the average chicken. The duck itself was a little overdone for our tastes, with the flesh becoming a little coarse. I was initially a little skeptical with having cherry sauce on what was essentially a main meal, but it provided a light fruity taste to the dish. The potatoes were also very creamy, and the dish was very filling.
Price Range: $50 - $70pp