Over the weekend I finally managed to persuade the second half of Lily & Ouk to venture out and check out Les Bistronomes in Braddon. Something about it being French and quite fancy was a massive barrier for him for awhile. He’s a somewhat big eater and had some experiences in the past with French food. Massive plates, no food he says. With that in mind, he thought it was a bit risky when you’re spending $40 per main and may end up disappointed and hungry afterwards. This was compounded by the fact that I find new restaurants pretty unpredictable and a little hit and miss. Firstly, they haven’t quite worked out their finer details of getting their service and food yet, so some things just naturally go wrong. Secondly, Urbanspoon ratings are pretty unreliable at the start and don’t really stabilise until about two to three months afterwards.
Anyways, we can happily say our meal at Les Bistronomes was actually quite good, even thought it’s still pretty early on. The food was very solid, delicious and very nicely presented. Les Bistronomes menu was simple. There were appetisers, entrees, mains, desserts and sides. The appetisers and sides were pretty standard so I won’t talk about them. For the entrees, mains and desserts you had four courses each and all were priced the same. Apparently, Les Bistronomes will be changing up their menu from season to season to ensure they’re making the dishes from fresh and in-season fruits and veggies. Most if not all the dishes were French inspired or quite classical. It was kind of nice seeing this, I haven’t had much French food so far so with Les Bistronomes now open and serving delicious food in Braddon, I’ll definitely be able to expand my French food eating.
Apparently the chef at Les Bistronomes is quite experienced, he has cooked under some pretty famous people and restaurants in Canberra and around the world, including Gordon Ramsay. I guess it all makes sense now, the limited menu, the special beef wellington menu item which cost $88 for two people that must be ordered in advance. All pretty cool sounding! Unfortunately, we didn’t order the beef wellington, we wanted to but it was a bit too much for us price wise, $88, if anyone else is braver than us, we’d love to hear about it! We decided to pick a couple of different things from the menu and sample different parts of Les Bistronomes. Alrightie, here we go, food time.
First up, Complimentary smoked tomato whipped butter ($4 for an extra serving with bread). Every table comes with complimentary whipped butter and a serving of bread. This was delicious and really cute! Look how adorable it is! Because it’s tomato flavoured, they’ve shaped it as a tomato with the stem and all! Plus, I overheard one of the staff at Les Bistronomes explaining to someone else that the flavour of the whipped butter will change seasonally based on what is appropriate. I guess tomatoes are a summer vegetable. Taste wise, this might sound a little strange but it reminded me of those Burgerman chips that we use to get back in primary school, those little rice cracker men! It had a strong tomato flavour to it but there was no acidity or sourness, plus with the butter and all it was super creamy and fluffy as well. These went perfectly with the bread. Plus, it was a pretty decent serving, we ended up smothering each slice of bread with a very generous amount of tasty whipped butter.
Here is the Complimentary house made bread ($4 for an extra serving with whipped butter). This was nice, crispy on the outside and lovely and soft on the inside. It was the perfect match for the flavoursome and creamy butter. On a side note, to our annoyance (thought we probably should have known better). We ended up being charged for an extra side of butter and bread. It was after our entrees when we were waiting for our mains. The staff at Les Bistronomes came out and asked us if we wanted some extra bread, after looking over at each other and letting some awkward moments past by we said yes. I think secretly we all had an inkling that we may have been charged for it and when we got out bill, that was indeed confirmed. If the butter wasn’t as delicious and adorable as it was, I probably would have been a lot more annoyed. $4 for bread and butter! Between the 3 of us, we ended up spending around $200 so I guess in hindsight the $4 isn’t super important, but come on, I don’t think there’s a huge need to nickel and dime your way there Les Bistronomes. So, lesson, in addition to not trusting strange men offering candy from a van, also do not trust lovely waiter’s offering complimentary bread. These things are not what they seem.
Onwards to our entrees, first up the Escargot et fillet de porc en persillade ($17) garlic snails and pork loin with parsley cream. We couldn’t quite say no to this. It was snails! In a French place! How French is that?! Prior to this, I’ve had snails two times. Once in France and once on a cruise ship because we were entering a French colony nation and they were having a French themed night. I must say, out of the three snails, I preferred the one at Les Bistronomes the most, though the dishes were quite different. The other two were garlic snails served in their shell whereas these were just the snail…people, themselves perched atop a pork throne. The snails here were nice and soft, not chewy at all like I was expecting. Flavour wise they tasted pretty normal and didn’t have any overwhelming grassiness to them like I was expecting. It’s starting to sound like I expected them to taste like the front yard, and I’m a little embarassed to say yes I certainly did. The ones in France tasted grassy, I thought that’s just how they were! These seemed to be heavily herbed and had a very strong buttery creamy after taste to them. The creamy after taste was probably what sold me on these snails over the others, the other two I had either had a super strong garlic after taste or a grassy one.
Here’s a close up of the snail itself. The pork loin was an amazing addition to this dish! To be honest, we weren’t in love with the snails, no fault of Les Bistronomes, we’re probably just not snail people. The pork though, really helped to ensure that the flavours of the snails were balanced. The pork was really tender smooth, they cut through really easily and were extremely moist to bite into. One of the key benefits of the pork was that it was a really safe flavour, I mean even if you order this dish to try out snails for the first time and end up hating snails, at least you know, you’ll still get a couple of decent sized pork loins to enjoy!
The parsley cream was also a great addition, it added some good colour to the plate and really brought an element of freshness and earthiness. I’m not really sure what the sheets on top of the pork loins and snail are but I enjoyed them! They added some great crunchy texture to the plate, everything else was quite soft so some crunchiness here and there was much appreciated. The green sheet was quite soft but had a pesto like flavour to it, which tasted amazing. I’m not 100% that I can say I love snails but after having the snails at Les Bistronomes I can definitely say I would potentially try them again in the future.
Our next entree for the night was the Salade nicoise ($17) nicoise salad with tuna, potato, french beans, olives, capsicum, egg. This was Spring on a plate, it was fresh, light and super pretty! There were so many elements to this dish and together they worked perfectly to make a taste sensation. Plus all these elements really did make the whole plate pop with colour, green from the herbs and beans, reds, yellows and oranges from the perfectly seared tuna, flowers, roasted tomato and bits of white from the eggs and potatoes. Not only did it look fantastic, the flavours also lived up to expectations. The tuna was seared ever so slightly, cooking it just slightly on the outside whilst keeping the inside perfectly soft. The mildness of the tuna worked perfectly with the flavoursome bits of olive and capsicum and creamy sauce on the plate. There was also soft boiled quail eggs which brought from extra creaminess to the plate, while the potato added some starchiness and great texture. The beans were also lovely, adding freshness and great texture and crunch. Overall, a really visually appearing treat for the warm weather we’re now getting.
Onwards to our mains, first up the Canard a l’orange ($36) orange duck with carrot and liquorice, pickled red cabbage and pistachio. A great French classic that I can’t say I’ve had before, so this was a first and a delicious one too. The duck was done two ways, there was the roasted duck and the roll on the bottom which tasted and felt more like minced duck, both were pretty nice. The roast duck was cooked perfectly with plenty of flavour and was really moist and springy. The minced duck was more mild with crunched pistachio on the outside, adding some crunchiness and nuttiness to the duck. Out of the two I definitely preferred the roast duck, but they were both quite nice.
Under the duck, there was also some pickled red cabbage which was nice and soft with quite a bit of sweetness to it, and some brown sauce, which, I am not 100% sure what it was but it was quite sweet, sticky and had a slightly burnt taste to it. The orange sauce was really interesting. It tasted like Fanta minus the fizziness, really strong orange flavours, and far more than I was expecting, or even thought possible! I mean you would think that would taste like orange but I guess there was no acidity or citrus to the sauce, just orange flavours. There were also fresh wedges of oranges throughout the dish, adding some freshness, lovely colours and quite a contracting texture to everything else on the plate.
Our final main for the night, the Steak de boeuf a l’echalotte et sauce bordelaise ($36) rare grilled rump steak, french shallots with a red wine jus. Despite looking like something a child would create if given a canvas and a lot of finger paint, this was absolutely fantastic. I’m honestly really surprised at how good this dish tasted, because I wasn’t expecting much. Rump meat and I haven’t really had the best of times with each other in the past, I only eat my steaks rare and rump? Well, I’ve never managed to have a good one rare. Along with black fire, the renaissance of rump continues with this fantastic dish! Thick slices of rare rump meat that were soft and tender, with a great char to them, I haven’t had too many steaks better than this one. I’m normally not a big fan of onions, but these were caramelised wonderfully and had pockets of the beef jus in them that were fantastic to eat even on their own. This was my highlight for the night, really fantastic, and definitely exceeded expectations of what I was thinking.
Onto our sides, first up the Petit pois a la française ($9) French peas. Apparently, this is quite a French dish. We actually had no plans on getting it, originally we just wanted a side of chips because that’s always safe and we were a bit worried about not being full by the end of the meal. However, the staff at Les Bistronomes suggested we tried something French from their sides menu. Originally she recommended the Tomates Provencal (Mediterranean Style Tomatoes) which were tomatoes with oil drizzled over it (apparently just one tomato, so might be bad for sharing, depending on how big it is), she said it was quite light, refreshing with a lot of zing to it. We decided to go for something different and asked her about these peas, she said they had bacon in them and was quite rich and heavy. We were sold and boy are we glad we got these, there were delicious and to be honest not that heavy!
It was still pretty fresh thanks to the delicious peas. The peas had a slight bit of crispiness to them, there were chunks of soft bacon throughout the side and leafy greens and cos lettuce as well. The peas were smothered in an oil which tasted a lot like bacon, wouldn’t be surprised if it had the bacon dippings in it. Fresh but with bacon goodness all over it, what more could you ask for.
Here are our Frites ($9). There just shoe string fries, I guess everything sounds more fancy in French. These were fine, cooked nicely with a lot of crispiness on the outside while the potato inside stayed nice and soft. They had just enough salt to them to add just the right amount of flavour to the chips. Having had all that said, its a pretty expensive bowl of shoe string fries. For $9 these looked eerily similar to what I can get in a bag at the supermarket. I feel like I could have gotten this same serving from McDonalds for $2, and we all know McDonald chips are delicious! So, I’m 50/50 on these, great chips but way too pricey for what they are. I’d rather order the more French inspired sides next time, especially those delicious peas!
Finally, our dessert for the night, the Charlotte a la fraise and sureau ($14) strawberry and elderflower charlotte. We were sitting outside so by the time dessert came around, the lighting was really starting to die on us and I’m not a massive fan using the phone flashlight or whatever since I don’t want to disturb other diners too much so we’re left with this picture. Plus, we had a pretty irate customer next to us who wasn’t having such a great meal so we didn’t want to try our luck.
As for this dessert? It was amazing! I think it’s a deconstructed charlotte, the menu didn’t say it or anything but it had all the elements of a deconstructed dessert. That pink shredded salmon looking thing is actually a cake! It might not look it from this specific picture but it was fantastic, soft and fluffy, almost as delicate as a chiffon cake but each bit of cake was a lot more dense. There was also a strong strawberry flavour to it. Onto of the cake there was also a little bit of diced fresh stawberries and some diced cumcber. It sounds like a pretty strange combination but it really worked with the melt in your mouth cake. The cucumber added a lot of texture to the really soft cake, it add some moisture as well and that freshness that you get that’s best explained as similar to when you add cucumber to a gin and tonic.
To compliment the cake, there was a strong and acidic strawberry sorbet which added a lot of flavour and a nice edge to the overall dessert. Finally, to finish it all off there was a mild strawberry mousse with meringue sheets on top. The mousse was super soft and melted in your mouth, it also brought some creaminess to the plate and worked fantastically with the strong tart flavours of the sorbet. I’m also a massive fan of merginues served in sheets, so I was pretty excited when I realised what those white sheets were. They added more crunchuness to the plate and some sweetness as well. A great little dessert with plenty of elements that went hand in hand with each other.
Oh, I took a picture of their herbs! I noticed it because we were sitting outside. We actually didn’t have solid plans to eat at Les Bistronomes, after not knowing what to eat on Friday, we decided to come here because well, we haven’t had it yet. We got there about 15 minutes after they opened and asked for a table, as expected they were completely booked out but we could have a seat outside! It looks like they leave their outdoor seating area for walk in dinners, I really do appreciate restaurants that leave a couple of tables for horrible walk in diners like me! I’m not planned enough to know what I want to eat in two or three days time, these restaurants really cater to my spontaneousness (I prefer to call it spontaneousness). On a side note, for anyone who wants a seat inside, definitely book! But its so lovely outside now that we didn’t mind one bit, plus we were surrounded by fresh herbs and fairy lights.
Oh, so I never really explained why I took a picture of the herbs. Its nothing major, its just nice to see places planting and using home grown herbs and veggies instead of store bought or dried herbs. The perceived freshness makes me feel better. Plus, it really brightens the outdoor seating area.
Well that was our meal for the night. I must say, we should be a little less sceptical about French food, this was overall a really tasty meal. Lots of new things for us and in the end we ended up liking them all enough to consider getting them again in the future. There are a couple more things on Les Bistronomes menu that caught my eye that I would definitely like to return to try, like the goats cheese souffle, the asparagus egg soilders, a couple of the desserts like the flaming creme brulee and the passionfruit souflee, which is served in half a passionfruit shell! Plus, they also do breakfast/brunch on the weekends, the menu looks equally as French influenced. Honestly, after this we hung out for a bit and eventually went to go get some extra food, but we’re terrible fatties, don’t use us as your example.