Due to the successes of tv shows such as Masterchef, Food Safari and the like, it is the age of the chef. Now it seems that your everyday Tom, Dick and Harry has heard of Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant and of Peter Gilmore’s snow egg dessert. It’s an exciting time, one which has all us taking greater interest in the ingredients and cooking styles that our eateries use.
One place which has had a great amount of hype behind it since it opened last year is Bistro Guillaume at Burswood’s Crown Casino. The product of French-born Sydney chef Guillaume Brahimi (yes that guy with the lovely accent on Masterchef) who owns Guillaume at Bennelong and also another Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne.
The food is modern, a mix of Australian and French, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. I’ve been waiting (rather impatiently) to finally try this place out.
Jeremy and I decided since we haven’t been out for a fancy date night since our holiday in Kuala Lumpur, we would book and have a nice evening out. Even though we live together, I was extremely surprised that when I came home from lunch and shopping with my best friend Carly, Jeremy was waiting for me with beautiful lilies. A wonderful start to our date!
We arrive for an early booking of 6pm at Bistro Guillaume, with the other option having been around 8pm. When we walk inside (situated at the Crown where Allure used to be), I’m overwhelmed by the plethora of green, white and black that makes up the decor. It’s gorgeous, bright and warm. We’re seated by our waiter who has an adorably authentic French accent and is friendly and attentive.
We start off the meal with a bottle of still San Vitoria water ($7) plus an alcoholic beverage each. Jeremy chooses a glass of the Little Creatures Pale Ale ($9) which is a local tap beer, while I opt for the French Desire Cocktail ($21). It’s a twist on a french martini with flavours of pineapple, passionfruit and vanilla. It’s delicious! A very well made cocktail that isn’t overpowering or lacking in the alcohol department.
The entree section of the menu is vast and there are some amazing sounding dishes. I have to admit I am torn between so many of them that I am almost unable to decide! There’s the whole marron with butter sauce, the chicken liver parfait and the steak tartare. But in the end I go down the traditional route of French fare, opting for the Escargot en Persillade ($25).
It comes out in a plate that looks designed just specially to hold all twelve mouthfuls. If you’re not accustomed to eating snails, this is a great place to introduce your palate. There’s a big risk when cooking them that they can become rubbery or chewy, but these ones are tender and flavoursome.
Persillade is a French sauce of parsley with garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar. And with these snails, it is a marriage in heaven. The oil keeps the snails hot and moist; the garlic slightly crunchy from being placed under a grill. I love that it comes with a nice smokey charred piece of bread that is crunchy and works as the perfect vessel in soaking up those juices.
Our plates are cleared within minutes of our entrees being completed; our waiter refilling our glasses and offering more drinks. We’re happy in our little comfortable booth that faces the kitchen and we both watch with interest as dish after dish is pumped out. I’m spotting some really delicious looking items so I think I will have to come back! Yes, yes I will.
Not too much time later, our mains arrive and I almost feel like they need fanfare to preempt them. Jeremy’s Leg of Duck Confit with Brussel Sprouts, Shallots and Speck ($38) is definitely the star of the show. It’s a sexy, sexy dish. Yes that might sound strange to hear, but that is exactly what I am thinking as I stare at it.
Two goldenly crisp segments of confit duck sit atop a creamy sauce that looks to be flavoured with grain mustard. The brussel sprouts are cooked perfectly; soft but not falling apart, the speck salty and meaty. The duck itself is fatty but in that wonderful way duck should be. The skin is crunchy and seasoned to a tee. It tastes so, SO good. I highly recommend this dish to anyone who loves duck like we do.
After our mains are cleared, I note the time and realise that we’re nearly at the time we were meant to give up our table. But to the staff here’s credit, they don’t rush us and even let us order dessert. Hooray! Because dessert is where my heart often lies.
For my dessert choice, I’m once again torn between a couple choices. After some internal debating, I follow my gut instinct and choose the Chocolate Souffle with Cherry Ripple Ice-cream ($22). It comes out cooked in it’s own copper pot and as our waitress puts it in front of me, she advises that the chef recommends it is placed in the centre to sink down. She then offers to do this for me, which I accept happily and snap away as she does so.
It looks absolutely amazing as the ice-cream slowly sinks to the bottom of the dish. So much so that I have no hesitation in diving in to try my first ever dessert souffle. Wow. Yes, wow! I can now see what the hype is all about (though Jeremy tells me he’s never had a souffle this light before). It’s lighter than air; chocolatey but not densely so. The texture is like a marshmallow almost, the ice-cream sweet and riddled with that promised cherry flavour.