Sunday, 31 December 2017

Montrachet - Bowen Hills

Long before I had ever started food blogging, I had already been acutely aware of the foodie scene and had made a bucket list of dream places I really wanted to go to, but had to save for a special occasion. Top of my list was none other than Montrachet, the french restaurant which has newly been relocated to the hot foodie hub, King Street in Bowen Hills. With my annual birthday celebrations on foot, two very dear friends offered to let me choose the place to have dinner, and I finally couldn't resist the temptation, and so Queen V made the booking.

Upon entry, we were soon greeted by the friendly waitress and shown to our table. I really liked the simplistic yet very stylish decor. It reminded me a lot of the other French restaurants I had tried in Melbourne. The exposed bricks gave it a nice touch.

Given the business of the festive season, we were given a table that came with a strict two hour limit as the next table was due at 8 O'Clock sharp.

Which is why we had all prepared ourselves accordingly by perusing the menu online before our arrival. Having said that, there is a certain charm to a leather bound menu, and I could not deny my excitement as I opened it and went through the extensive options.

After ordering, complimentary bread was soon brought to our table. Strangely, butter had to be requested separately. I liked how the bread as slightly toasted, although it wasn't particularly crusty, the centre was definitely very fluffy.

Before long, our entrees started to arrive. My first companion had the Zucchini Flower filled with filled with saffron risotto, sheeps milk cheese of Basque, romesco and crisp salad of sweet peppers and tomato. Despite how complex the dish sounded, it was a relatively simple affair, and my friend enjoyed the one single crumbed flower, but noted that even for an entree, there could have been a little more.

My other companion, wanting to go for the full French experience, opted for the Escargot - Snails baked in little pots with garlic butter, tomato, Spinach and topped with puff pastry lids. This was considerably larger in portion than the Zucchini Flower, and my companion found the dish to be very enjoyable, with the snails giving an almost seafood-esque flavour. The puff pastry was also wonderfully flaky and delicate, whilst the garlic butter, tomato and spinach gave the dish a very strong and distinct taste.

My choice of entree was the Soufflé au Crabe et au Gruyère, a double baked soufflé with crab meat and gruyère cheese finished with a light cream bisque. Of all our entrees, we all agreed that this was by far the best. The souffle was wonderfully light, and the crusty gruyere outside gave it a delightful contrast. There was a generous amount of crab inside the souffle, which was complemented by the rich smooth bisque. I absolutely loved this.

My companion who went full French had the Cuisse de Canard Confite et Poêlée, a Confit free range duck leg from Galston, caramelised onion tart, rosemary praline, celeriac and fresh broad bean. When he started gushing about how good it was, I knew that I had to try some. To my delight the duck skin was exceptionally crispy, with the duck meat maintaining its moisture and tenderness. The added caramelised onion took it to a new level, and I also really loved this dish.

As my readers would know by now, my go to dish in a French restaurant is always the steak frites, so both my other companion and I had the Filet de Boeuf, Frites, Salade - an eye fillet served with green salad, homemade French fries Béarnaise or Green peppercorn sauce. My companion opted for the Bearnaise, whilst I had the Green Peppercorn. As usual, I had it cooked rare, and it was served perfectly rare. The steak had a meaty texture whilst it was still quite tender, for an eye fillet, I found it to have quite a strong beef flavour to it. My companion mentioned that her Bearnaise sauce was rich and creamy, but I still preferred the sharpness of my green pepper sauce. The fries though were far thicker cut than we had imagined, being more akin to chips than fries. We thought that they could have been crispier and better seasoned, but still they soaked the meat juices and sauces well.

The salad to our steak frites came in a separate bowl. It comprised of lightly vinegar-ed leafy greens, which were refreshing but could have been a little more crunchier, perhaps if onions were added.

Being unable to decide between desserts, we opted for three to share. 

First up was the Soufflé d’abricot - Apricot soufflé, Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, spiced peach compote. I was really impressed with how fluffy and delicate the souffle was, and appreciated the really light apricot and vanilla flavours. The spiced peach compote definitely had a stronger flavour, and we added it cautiously so as not to overpower the dish.

Next was the critically acclaimed Chocolat de Passion - Grand Marnier brulée, passionfruit curd, chocolate hazelnut praline mousse and strawberry sorbet. I found the combination of flavours to be very novel and they came together wonderfully. I especially enjoyed the rich chocolate hazelnut praline, which drew sharp contrast to the refreshing strawberry sorbet.

 Our last dessert was the Mousse de praliné et chocolat blanc - white chocolate and hazelnut praline mousse with mango and grapefruit, which was the crowd favourite that evening. With the strong fruity focus of mango and grapefruit, the whole dish tasted like summer. I loved the chocolate and hazelnut praline which was smooth and creamy, coupled with the sorbet, it made for one hell of a dessert.

Price Range: $70 - $90pp

Taste: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Environment: 9/10

Montrachet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Revisit: Simmer Huang - Sunnybank

Following my review on the Malatang at Narati, The Tomcat family and I were also invited to sample the wares at Simmer Huang, a fellow resident of Sunnybank Plaza which I had previously tried when it was newly opened. Also being a northern Chinese style restaurant, it also had a focus on spicy foods.

 Arriving at roughly 7pm, there was no wait at all, and the restaurant was roughly half full. A far cry from its initial crowds. Other than that though, decor was exactly the same as when I went a few months ago. 

The menu was also the same, but this time, thankfully though, none of our selections had sold out. 

Tomcat, ever the alcoholic, started his meal with a red wine. 

On the other hand, I tried out some of their cocktails. This was the strawberry daiquri, which I found to be delightfully fruity and refreshing, though definitely not very strong in alcohol taste or content. Still it was a good deal for $6. 

Our appetisers also started to come promptly, with the spring onion pastry first to arrive. Being a big fan of this pastry (a beloved childhood favourite), I found the pastry to be quite crispy and deliciously well layered. Unfortunately it was quite lacking in the spring onion department and the flavours weren't quite there. 

Another appetiser we sampled was the spicy chicken, served chilled. As you can imagine, it was coated in a dark soy and chili paste. Whilst the dish was refreshing when chilled, we couldn't help but feel that the soy and chilli was way too strong and overpowered the whole dish, detracting from our appreciation of any chicken flavours. 

Last but not least, we had a dish of shredded tofu and veges, also chilled. The tofu and veges were quite tender, and I liked the light soy sauce that it came with. The chillies gave it the slight spice hit which added some more dimension to the dish. 

Starters aside, the main courses soon arrived. The setup process was exactly the same as last time. 

Starting with a buttery oil base, 

Fresh veges were added, 

Meat was placed on top, this was the basa fish pot, 

This was the combination meat and seafood pot. 

These were cooked for roughly 20 mins, after which, their signature secret sauce was added to the pot and stirred through. 

After another five minutes the finishing touches were added and we dug in. The basa pot was quite well received, the fish was tender and well infused with the saucy flavours in the dish. It was amply flakey and I really enjoyed it. The veges were also quite well seasoned, making for a comforting yet strongly flavoured dish. 

The combination meat and seafood pot had a lot more variation than the plain basa pot. Containing chicken, calamari, prawns and some ribs, there was a lot more to choose from. Unfortunately this meant that the prawns were long overcooked by the time the chicken wings were done. Unlike the fish, I also found the chicken and pork didn't absorb the sauces as easily, leaving it slightly bland in the centre. 

Once we were almost finished with the pot, our friendly waitress came to demonstrate hand pulled noodles in addition to some more veges. The noodles were definitely the highlight of my night. Served with just the right texture the edges were soft but the centre had bite. Served with the soup that evening, all I could want was more. It was without question a perfect way to round off the night.

Espresso and Matcha were invited guests of Simmer Huang, but as always, our opinions are solely our own.

Starbucks - Brisbane CBD

Last working day of the year, I found myself wanting coffee, but with my usual go to places already closed, I was left to rely on the one thing I could always count on, Starbucks (it also helps that I absolutely love their Christmas season cups and wanted one before the year was out), so getting off the bus a bit earlier, I made a beeline for their Myer Centre store.

There was a significant queue that morning, no doubt everyone else was in a comparable situation to myself. I joined up at the end and thankfully the queue moved very quickly.

Standing behind Captain America in the line, I stopped to admire the baked goodies in the cabinet, but decided against it that morning (considering the many more calories to be gained over the holiday). Best to save some of it for 2018.


Waited to the side after making my order at the counter (and YES they did get my name wrong, as usual), I tried a sample of their cold brew. It was unlike anything I had ever had before. Whilst the coffee taste and fragrance was pretty average, the texture was out of this world, being one of the smoothest cold brews I've had in my life. It definitely left me craving for more.

My order for that morning was brewed coffee with milk. It was served steaming hot, but nowhere near the level of smoothess as the cold brew, and the body and fragrance where nowhere near what I have been used to from The Single Guys, but it was ample and did its job. This year's cup was also awfully cute too.

Price Range: $3 - $15pp

Taste: 6/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 8/10
Starbucks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato