L’étoile Restaurant and Bar

January 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm (French, Sydney)

Christmas lunch 2012 was at L’étoile in Paddington.  Located in a beautiful Victorian terrace on Glenmore Road, this French bistro fits right in with the chic vibe of Five Ways.  Being a huge fan of Manu, I’ve dined at L’étoile twice before and had a wonderful meal on both occasions.  This time, however, there were a few things that somewhat marred the experience.

Letoile

For entrées, Mum and Mei both ordered the signature; boudin de st jacques avec bisque de crustacés.  This is by far my favourite dish on the menu.  The briny scallop sausage is chunky but silky, served on a bed of spinach in an intense crab bisque.

Letoile-boudin

I had one of the cold starters; escabèche de poulpe avec tapenade d’olive noire.  Chunks of marinated poached octopus with pickled vegetables, served with a black olive tapenade and paper-thin sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil.  The tangy escabèche made for a nice, light entree.

Letoile-octopus

Mei has this strange habit of ordering risotto whenever we’re at a French restaurant.  Normally, I would ceaselessly hound her for it but it actually worked in her favour on this occasion.  Risotto d’orge aux champignons sauvages; the pearl barley was chewy and bouncy, the sauce rich and earthy, an absolute winner.

Letoile-risotto

By comparison, our other two mains were very disappointing.  Steak de boeuf du boucher avec beurre rouge et pomme frites; the steak arrived pre-sliced and drowned in sauce, over-salted fries piled unceremoniously on the side.  Not enough resting time was probably the reason the beef was so tough.  The result was a dish reminiscent of something from a cafeteria.

Letoile-beef

Filets de truite d’eau douce grenobloise; the rainbow trout was moist and beautifully cooked but the lemon-caper-browned butter sauce was too over-powering and soggy fish skin is never enticing.  Rather than oil-saturated croutons, the dish was calling out for something fresh to cut through the richness of the sauce.

Letoile-fish

The meal was saved to some extent by dessert.  Poire belle hélène avec glace à la pistache; tender poached pear, drizzled in chocolate sauce and topped with pistachio ice cream.  I saw Manu prepare this dessert at the 2011 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and it tastes as good as it looks.

Letoile-pear

Île flottante façon l’étoile avec glace à la fraise tagada; L’étoile’s rendition of a classic floating island dessert comprising a slab of gorgeous soft meringue topped with dehydrated strawberries and slivered almonds, on a smear of salted caramel sauce, dots of vanilla cream and a playful ‘fraise tagada’ (French gummy candy) ice cream.

Letoile-meringue

Crème brûlée à la vanille et tuile d’amande was not as inspiring.  An absolutely huge serve (our waiter even joked about the ‘tiny’ dish) but because the dish was quite shallow, there was not enough custard to balance the intense sweetness of the burnt caramel crust.  The custard itself was also quite watery and did not have a strong vanilla flavour, while the almond tuile was soft and pliable, not light and crispy as it should have been.

Letoile-creme brulee

Such a shame that there were quite a few disappointing dishes.  I can’t even find an excuse given that we were the only table there during Saturday lunch service.  I think Manu needs to spend more time at his restaurant.
 
L'étoile Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon
 

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