Au Petit Salut Birthday Dinner

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Chris and I celebrate our birthdays on consecutive days. We went to Au Petit Salut for a birthday blowout dinner in a dim romantic corner, making for rather grainy out of focus pictures.

We started with oysters in the half-shell, going easy with just two each. One was a “prota com” and the other a “white pearl.” The waitress said they were from France but couldn’t say much more beyond that. Couldn’t find any info on them on google, but both were excellent. The white pearl was milder and the prota com was earthy and minerally, tasting beautifully of the sea. It had a long finish with a flinty aftertaste. Gorgeous.

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Next, Chris had her favourite escargot, which she loved. I had to pass on the appetisers because of all the Christmas and birthday feasting, but the chef sent out a complimentary portion of duck rilletes. The rilletes was very good on bread and it’s one of my favourite potted meats.

For mains, I had the lamb shoulder with ratatouille, garlic confit and mashed potatoes. The lamb was very well done, though I like the ends to be a bit more rare. It had great flavour, very meaty without having too strong a “lamb” taste that many people don’t like. And that layer of fat? Crisp, salty outside yielding to soft unctuousness; in a word – heaven. I found the ratatouille a bit of a let down, especially since Chris ordered her own main of grilled fish just because it had ratatouille too. It was not much more than an overly salty vegetable mush. Pity because I loved the rest of the dish. I’m not a particularly garlicky person mainly because I get garlic (and onion) breath far too easily. Somehow these soft garlic cloves just didn’t let me go. They were addictive I tell you. And then there was the mash which was the typically lovely French style with beaucoup de beurre. It was rich and incredibly smooth, almost too rich but I still managed to finish it and it was all gone before I realised.

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By now we were stuffed, but still needed to round off the meal with some dessert. Having to wait 20 minutes for our souffle helped. Time passes quickly when you’re in good company. The grand marnier souffle was well executed and was redolent of oranges and liqueur. I liked the special touch of the tiny bit of dark chocolate that sank in the middle of the dessert. It was a good contrast to the sweet foam. I liked it, but my main grouse with souffle is that there never is enough of crunchy top and side and always too much foam inside.

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It was a lovely dinner. Great company, good food. What more can a girl ask for?

Au Petit Salut
40C Harding Road
Tel: 6475 1976

Dessert at the Former Factory

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I’m getting old. My aging brain keeps referring to Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar by its old name, The Chocolate Factory. It still has rather decent, though often patchy, offerings. Shinta and KK shared a molten chocolate cake that was accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream and chantilly cream. None of us were too impressed as the cake was a bit overdone. Only the very centre of the cake was molten, with only the tiniest ooze. The chantilly cream was fake. Sure, it was better quality fake stuff, probably not from a can, but it was definitely not real dairy cream. Eeyore and I, the cream experts, sniffed at it and then looked away. Oh, and by the way, what on earth is that raspberry sauce posing as? Whoever plated this dessert has a ridiculous sense of aesthetics.

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Shinta and KK’s chocolate souffle fared better. It was baked just right and was chocolatey and yummy. KK made the hole in the picture so she could pour in the chocolate sauce. The tart raspberry sorbet went winningly with the souffle. Two thumbs up.

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Onwards to the Grand Marnier souffle I shared with Eeyore. It’d risen quite impressively in the ramekin and went nicely with the vanilla custard sauce. Too bad the inside wasn’t cooked enough. It was as if the souffle was only cooked on the outside. On the inside, there was still plenty of raw whipped egg white that was just on the verge of weeping. I didn’t like the feeling of damp foam in my mouth. The orange liqueur flavour was very good though.

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I’m still not completely convinced by this place. This time, the service had improved from abysmal to decent with nothing to complain about. The food was pretty much hit and miss. I’d only come here if I was craving souffle very badly and wouldn’t mind an inferior version.

Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar
The Pier at Robertson Quay 80
Mohammad Sultan Road #01-11
Tel: 6235 9007