Thursday, 17 January 2013

P'tite Ardoise Bistro

P'tite Ardoise Bistro on Urbanspoon

Ça va?

No, not just a daggy Google translate to fit in with a French restaurant post. That was actually from my brain.
Believe it or not I learnt the language for 4 years, and all I've managed to remember to this day are numbers, "My name is" and "I live in Western Australia". It puts my distinction award to shame (which is probably covered in dust at the moment), if I knew where it was.

Learning French is just a fragment of my memory. And it is just that: I remember learning French, yet I don't remember any actual French that I learnt.

And being in Perth, it is near impossible to practice the language with anyone or anything. There isn't a plethora of French cuisine on this side of the world, so when a good one finally reveals itself, it gets excessive amounts of praise and business.

So much so that it could be annoying to get a table, and equally as annoying to talk over the sheer volume in the restaurant when you are at that table that you finally manage to book.
Bread Selection (per person) - $3.50
Waitresses are quick with the procedure of water pouring, menu giving and bread offering as soon as we are seated. I spied all the bread being kept toasty in a small oven, which explains why they are still delightfully warm when you select them out of the basket.

The mini baguettes, olive loafs and herb dinner rolls are followed by a delivery of a long plate, its 3 indents filled with olive oil, a soft creamy butter spread and a salty olive tapenade as accompaniments to the bread.

It is a beautiful pleasure to eat and a distracting temptation before you even look at the menu to order your main meals, but personally, I did have a small disagreement with the method that staff used to "offer" bread. More on that later.
Escargot a Ma Facon - $19
The back garden is probably the only place you would want to see a snail and while the word "snail" may make you writhe in discomfort let alone eating one, it seems almost incorrect not to try this theoretically gross, mucous-secreting mollusk at a French restaurant.
Snails cooked My Way
The presentation was very appetising and quite far from anything I had expected to see - I just couldn't imagine pretty-looking snails. I originally thought diners had a choice of how to cook the snails as I was deceived by the name snails cooked my way.

The dish comes with a warning of "Be careful, it's very hot", referring to the 3 cups and the puff of steam that is released when you lift off the golden, buttery, peppered toast ceilings. Each cup held around 3-4 snails so serving size was quite substantial, purely because that was more snails than I could stomach.
I had a friend in primary school whose parents owned a French restaurant which my class visited, so  I am not entirely new to snail consumption. However at 8 years old, I didn't exactly realise that I was putting a snail in my mouth (which was probably a good thing at that stage).

The chewy snails reside in 3 separate sauces; all with herbs, tomato and cream but with escalating levels of creaminess. It is both this cream and the pure thought of ingesting what I usually see on my porch that limited my intake to just 2 snails, before leaving the rest to A to finish.

I couldn't stop picturing them as inhabitants of my garden, and surely enough when I got home, there were 2 on my garage door.
Duet of Veal and Venison with Prawns, Mash, Spicy poached Pear and Jus - $39
It took considerable time for mains to arrive but boy did they make a grand entrance.

Each ingredient was undoubtedly superbly cooked but the one aspect of this dish that won my tastebuds over was the deliciously sweet poached pear, its soft texture and fruity flavours mingling with spices. Très bien indeed!

There are usually 2 telltale signs that reveal someone who is in love with their food - declaring loudly and showering it with praise non-stop, or the silence that follows with focused devouring of it. On this occasion, I was of the first species.
Different angle of the above dish
It was a spectacular sight, this food tower presenting multiple layers, each offering a different item, flavour and texture. Dining at a restaurant named "Little Blackboard", it is no surprise many meals are indeed served on little "blackboards".

These particular mains were quite popular on the night, as I eyed the exact same order on our adjacent table which was so close that the tables were like just separated conjoint twins.
Blanched Vegetables
All main meals are accompanied by a small dish of vegetables, made up of blanched green beans, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli and drizzled with oil.

All main meals are also accompanied by a simple but effective, and heavily-accented bon appètit! to remind you to enjoy your meal while you melt into that luscious French accent. And French waiters.
Roast Lamb Rump on Basil Mash, Purple Carrot, Tomato Beurre Blanc - $38
I couldn't go past lamb and ordered the roast lamb rump. The lamb itself was cooked to medium, sealed to retain its juices and was quite a large serving.

This was my first time trying purple carrot, which looked like a complete foreign object on the dish. I was underwhelmed that it had identical taste and texture to its normal orange twin, even though identical twins with different skin colour probably don't exist.

I was excited by the tinge of green in the mashed potato, but the presence of basil didn't quite come through for me. Decorated with cherry tomatoes, the dish was finished with a moat of sauce.

Beurre blanc means "white butter" in French, and is essentially a wine and butter emulsion that is used in French cuisine, which looked beautiful with this dish.
Everything on the plate, up close and personal
After a long, hard ponder, we said no to dessert as I planned to fill the dessert hole in my stomach with something from the Beaufort Street Festival that was still chugging on in full steam just down the road (blog post to come, possibly half a year later :P). This night visit to the festival was a load more pleasant than when we visited in the afternoon in sweltering heat!

P'tite Ardoise seems like just a detour from my expedition down Beaufort Street that day, huh?

In this instance, it seems it is more of a sin NOT to have dessert than to have it, with all the delectable desserts on offer. Next time. Just like all my other "next times".
P'tite Ardoise is a little quaint restaurant which you wouldn't expect noise levels to get quite rowdy in during dinner time. The close seating arrangements look like one long communal dining table that give you quite a good view of bum when diners squeeze in next to you to get to their wall seat.
Full restaurant, happy diners, happy boss.
The restaurant's small capacity is fully utilised by having 2 separate seatings for dinner, which meant tables need to be vacated by a certain time. The initially empty restaurant filled up fast, and hearing (plus singing along to) Happy Birthday 4 times within 30 minutes is a sign that this place is a popular choice for celebrating special occasions.
Ditch that quiet, dim lit restaurant romantic experience. Romance here instead, in the hustle & bustle of Paris.
Undoubtedly we had a really positive experience here, from the food to the atmosphere and feeling serenaded every time the waitress released incredible sounding words from her mouth; it all made me swoon.


Aforementioned, the only issue I had regarding my otherwise polished experience here was the way in which staff offers bread to diners, which could be misleading and could be interpreted as complimentary. From our experience, staff come around and ask, "Would you like some bread?" from a handheld basket while bread is actually listed in the Starters section of the menu and is available to order.

Of course, it is not the monetary value diners are being charged for that is the problem, for it is superb quality bread. It is advisable however, from a diner's perspective that they are told of the charge for accepting the seemingly complimentary "Would you like some bread?" offer. I gave this suggestion to the restaurant to which I received the reply below:

"Regarding the bread we know sometime the staff forgot to mention to people is not free of charge, but find a place in Perth who offer good quality fresh bake bread as many as you want with butter, EV olive oil, and Tapenade for 3.50$ per person??"

Personally I thought that was quite a different, unorthodox and unexpected way to handle customer feedback. And while I do regard P'tite Ardoise to be a very commendable restaurant, there are indeed other Perth establishments who offer endless amounts of quality bread and condiments free of charge. I am not implying in any way that the bread here should be free, I am merely suggesting that diners should be informed that there is a charge attached.

Due to dietary requirements I was not able to have the olive oil, butter or tapenade with my bread anyway (which goes towards this charge), which are automatically delivered to the table once you accept the offer of bread. Besides this incident and the response that came with it that left me feeling a little uneasy, I do look forward to dining there again; especially with their everchanging menu of the day.

Being face to face with all the live, authentic, aesthetically pleasing, French-speaking waiters, the urge to roll some français off my tongue and show off my hopeless multilingual non-talent was quite massive! That exotic accent is incredibly soothing but there is the danger of them explaining the menu elaborately with me not understanding a single word.

I admit I didn't catch everything (more like anything) our waitress said.
But that is to be expected since we were dining in France at that moment...oui?

(08) 9228 2008
Tuesday - Saturday: 6pm onwards


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Family Christmas Feasting 2012 - Lunch

I vividly recall the photos of the family feast that A purposely taunted me with back in the Christmas of 2011. That image of lobster, oysters and other yummy stuff has never really left my mind ever since.
I briefly thought to myself, I must make myself a part of this family (feast) one day.
A year later, I really did :)

So when he messaged me that my awaited #EventOfTheYear was happening on Christmas Day at his sister's house, I am kind of embarrassed to admit that it's not even a joke.
I had been anticipating this family feast for an entire year.
I just don't let him know that this is one of the reasons why we are together.

We had started driving when we realised we forgot our fuel for the long drive. Doing a detour back home, we loaded up with enough chilled flavoured kit kats to fuel us for the road trip down south to our destination, on a stinking hot 40 degrees Celsius day.

Sushi that wasn't for us
Having a toddler in the house who only eats certain food and occasionally his iPad, A's nephew  has access to his own private sushi buffet that get played with more than they get eaten.

Smoked Salmon platter
Things kicked off with a large platter of juicy smoked salmon, which we ate dipped into wasabi and soy sauce or with a squeeze of lemon.

I don't like being deceived by looks - if my salmon looks raw, as it does when it is smoked, I'd much prefer it actually being raw. I love my sashimi and to me, smoked salmon is just a tease.

I was pleasantly surprised however, by how moist and fresh these were, and how close they resembled raw fish because they didn't have that strong salty characteristic of smoked salmon. I drowned these in soy sauce and wasabi and happily pretended I was in sashimi heaven.

Mango Prawn Salad
When A told me what was going to be featured on the day's menu, I salivated so hard in my mind (most likely physically, too). The words Mango Prawn Salad rang in my head loud and clear, and I knew that with 2 of my favourite foods working their magic together, things could only go right.

The sight of this was magnificent and ever so unique, and I was ridiculously sad when I realised there was only enough for 2 per person.

Each mango was cut in half, the sweet golden flesh scooped out and refilled back into the now empty mango bowl, with the skin still in tact. Already refreshingly juicy on its own, the chunks of mango are added with whole prawns and tossed through a creamy mayonnaise dressing.

That sweet fruity taste and creamy texture go wonderfully well together, like a strawberries and cream thing.

There were also oven-cooked sausages, that were just too big to fit in (my stomach)!

Crispy skinned oven-roasted chicken
As we gobbled down through our starters, the chicken was quietly roasting in the oven and filling the air with its distinguishable mouthwatering that's-gotta-be-roast-chicken aroma.

These hefty chicken thigh and drumstick pieces were initially pan-fried to seal in its juices then finished off in the oven, and basted all over with a juicy sweet celery, carrot and onion mix after caramelising in the fry pan.

So tender, so juicy, so damn crispy.

Not just any potato salad
This was made by A's sister, and is enough to make me say this is probably the best potato salad I have ever tasted. Halfway between mashed potato and your normal chunky potato salad, it features your usual egg, bacon bits, cucumber and mayonnaise ingredients.

But bashing the potato chunks down into mash, takes it to a level of creaminess that goes beyond the already-creamy level that normal potato salad can ever provide you with.

Espresso shot
I'm not a coffee drinker let alone espresso shots, but with the words coconut flavoured, I was sold right then and there.

Fruit platter
Absolutely bulging at the waistline by now, but nobody passed up the fruit platter that served up refreshingly sweet grapes, cherries and rockmelon.

It is very entertaining to watch A's nephew interact with fruit he is given, as on one incident he dropped a watermelon, rubbed it on the floor a few times and picked it up to feed his dad.

Growing a little older now, there is slight improvement, as he now rubs it on the table then eats it himself instead.

Chocolate selection
The eating continued with an ongoing passing of the chocolate plate around, loaded up with assorted Lindor chocolate balls, Ferrero Rocher and coconut coated chocolate rum balls.
Christmas is really just an anagram for chocolate!

I was secretly wishing that A's dad would serve up his delicious Cherries Jubilee - spiced cherries flambéed in port wine syrup, which we savoured over an orange, pineapple and coconut ice cream on one occassion.

That amazing bittersweet flavour was My Perfect Ending. The best bit however, was seeing the kitchen go up in flames, just momentarily!

Merry ex Christmas!
Yet another reminiscent Christmas tree, to painfully remind you that the wonderful, short lived, unrestrained consumption, health unconscious festive days are all, over.

Now to start the countdown towards the next Event of the Year :)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Blu Grill

Blu Grill on Urbanspoon

We drove through the dark, following a distant blue light shining guiding the way to
This was in fact a very unassuming restaurant in the middle of a quiet suburban area that I would never have thought of visiting.

I was excited to finally try out Blu Grill, who made its debut just one short year ago.

Blu Grill
Follow the blue light for answers (when hunger is the question!)
The opening scene of 'Fine Dining at Blu Grill'
We were promptly seated, with these items already at the table.
Instead of regular salt & pepper shakers, Blu Grill leaves dishes of coarsely cracked pepper and salt on every table.

It sure adds elegance, but is a little impractical to use.
Cajun Spiced Popcorn
First to the table before anything gets discussed is the all important bowl of complimentary popcorn, keeping diners entertained and understandably quiet until the bowl is empty :)
Chicken Livers - $12
Exclusive to Blu Grill is this unique entree, involving less seen and less eaten parts inside a chicken.

This was a hefty serve of large chicken liver chunks dusted with smoked paprika, flash fried with onions and served in a wickedly good lime and peri peri cream sauce.

Chicken livers tasted not as I had expected - soft and with a pâté-like texture that you can lightly chew. It has a strong taste that I wasn't used to, even though I have been eating offal my entire life, but is masked by that flavoursome sauce.
The upside down UFO dish
The serving is just like the bowl it is served in - deceptively small in presentation and seemingly small for my greedy thoughts. The dish is deep and holds a surprisingly large amount of that good saucy stuff - no, amazing saucy stuff to drench the bread roll in.
Pork Rib Eye
We wouldn't usually order a dish that even remotely resembles that of a pork chop, but this was a worthy order that could cancel that ridiculous rule.

Unfortunately I can't for the life of me remember the many components of this meal, as the frequency of menu changes at Blu is ridiculously fast and innovative. I would love to cut open a chef's brain and see what goes on inside it (in the least freakiest sounding way as possible) because I have full admiration of what they are capable of producing.
Pork Rib Eye (another angle)
The pork, I remember to be wonderfully cooked and oozed out cheesy stuffing from within. It was cooked with a lightly crumbed coating, and served with sauteed bok choy and a side of creamy rice. Would love to see this on the menu again.
Blu Ocean - $32
The Blu Ocean dish is appropriately named, and really does give you a good overall sample of the the ocean's offerings in the one plate.

The fish component varies from fresh snapper, salmon and barramundi, with other seafood being springy calamari tubes, king prawns and half shell mussels all sauteed in a white wine and vanilla sauce. The dish is also accompanied by saffron rice and a side of a refreshing tomato and coriander salsa.
Blu Ocean (close up)
Each component was cooked wonderfully well, with no dry fish, rubbery squids or overcooked prawns in sight or taste. Admittedly I hadn't expected as much sauce that was given, which made the dish a bit too rich and creamy as you work through the meal.

I feel the original humble tastes of the seafood would shine through more, had they been drizzled with sauce rather than swimming in this sauce ocean. Personally, the individual flavours became an amalgamation into one, with each mouthful melding all tastes into the same flavour.

For me, sauce is good, but not when it masks the freshness of the seafood. But to each their own, because I can feel disapproving judgment of all the sauce-fiends out there.
Mixed Berry Creme Brulee - $12
Not quite full but not quite hungry at this point, or just because dessert is a necessity - we finished off with Blu's mixed berry creme brulee.

It wasn't an overwhelmingly sweet dessert, thanks to the mix of acidic berries baked into the brulee. I'd probably prefer my creme brulees berry-less however, as personally I am not a fan of this particular combination of ingredients.
You had me at creme so-damn-good brulee
It was a smallish serve, but I loved the golden and slightly burnt toffee layer that promised ripples of smoothness underneath. It was a nice silky consistency throughout that made us lick out the bowl with our spoons.
The start of a beautiful day :)
I wondered if staff thought we were a little over enthusiastic by coming back for breakfast the day after. Because I thought we were :P

We came towards the end of breakfast time and things looked a little cluttered, with uncleared tables indoors and out. The napkin and salt/pepper dish at our table never ended up being changed by a waiter, which was the only minor hiccup.

I did think the table set up with formal napkins and all provided a nice contrast to the casual but beautiful natural surrounds though!
Build Your Own Omelette
I was pleased to spot on their menu more than the typical standard fare of most breakfast menus. As we are huge lovers of eggs and believe there is nothing better than your humble egg, Blu's omelette dish was a no brainer this morning (and always).
How do you like your eggs?
Presented before us was a large golden folded pillow of fried eggs, scattered with the items that we had chosen - sliced mushrooms and ham. Blu gives you the option to choose from ingredients including cheese, tomato, and other breakfast items.

Unfortunately it was a tad dry from being a second too overcooked for my liking. I would probably try another dish, but to my horror it seems that Blu Grill no longer opens for breakfast!
Such a shame.
Chilli Breakfast Stir-fry
Something caught my eye on the menu.

And when it arrived at the table, I'm glad it did.

This breakfast fry up was just like a Chinese combination stir fry, but loaded with potatoes, mushroom, bacon, wilted spinach and feta cheese. Sauteed the contents with chilli gave it a slight heat, but I think the chef could be a lot braver with the chilli addition.

I think I'm very partial to having many items on the plate at once, because I like to think (and eat) big. All the different breakfast items came, chopped, sliced and cooked altogether into a Mt Breakfast monument.

And I began to make my way down the mountain, deconstructing it, one piece at a time. It was an exhilarating climb, and left me with feelings of great achievement of getting through it :D

The large, sleek fishbowl kitchen is encased by glass, fully revealing all the magic that happens inside.

Diners can glimpse or stare their hearts out at this Chefs Reality Kitchen scene inside the restaurant, or they could watch classic old school channels playing on the televisions that overhang the dining room (that you can see in the glass' reflection above).
The stimulating sight for restaurant-sofa seat hoggers
The Blu Grill interior sports a very comfortable fit out, giving out a vibe of casual but classy at the same time. The tables are intimately close, which means accidental eavesdropping will be hanging around for the evening.

I would say I could have learnt a great deal about the people adjacent to us by the end of the night! However, it did save the friendly waitress from repeating the specials of the night over and over again for each table, as it was much too convenient for me to overhear her words from my own table.

Just turn the lights down, and you have fine dining right here!
A happy sight
The drinks menu is extensive, with an eye-catching wine selection display running along the kitchen border to match.

The casual setting in the alfresco area is a perfect backdrop to the natural surrounds that the restaurant is located in, and the cool breeze that dances through is a most welcome visitor on a laid-back weekend morning.

Blu Grill has very convenient plastic screens that simply roll up and down come opening and closing time. The large open style carries on throughout the restaurant, and allows diners to breathe in the fresh, unpolluted air of a quiet and peaceful suburban environment.
Just relaaaaax
There's a lot to be excited about, and the food is certainly a true and deserving hero of the restaurant. It is so innovative and everchanging that I see new additions on every occasion that I check their menu (no bull!), which is compiled with African, French, Mauritian and Thai influences.

It is a young restaurant, but already being a Gold Plate award finalist for 2012, Blu Grill certainly has the potential to bloom and prosper extremely fast.

Servings are generous with the prices, and this generosity is a recurring theme here, as I had the pleasure of dining here with vouchers that entitled me to a free dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a gorgeous way of celebrating their 1st birthday.

I'll be back. Even without those vouchers. But I'll miss them dearly.

(08) 9242 8222
Friday - Sunday: 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner Everyday: 5pm to late

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