MX Nosh writes
“A little French revolution is taking place around the corner in Carlton
From exotic lands
Look out for this fantastic bit of France muscling in next door to Italian-dominated Carlton. It has so much Joie de Vivre you could well stay far later than you expected. And if you get into conversation with Jenny Walsh, the maestro behind the food, you will definitely be in for a long haul. Her words – “I like to chat” – should be taken literally. Which is great because the story behind the family and the restaurant is overflowing with energy and the love of food. The enjoyment she derives from cooking and serving people is apparent in the food. She is a delight and means it when she says she wants people to feel like they are in her lounge room.
In the beginning
Walsh left her native Singapore and traveled to the UK and France, where she learned the secrets of the pan. Back in Australia with husband Chris Rees, they have taken over the old Le Cézanne and transformed it to suit their own style. This includes a gorgeous renovation, with walls full of old French absinthe posters and white cloths covered in paper. It’s very cosy and neat with an open kitchen. C’est bon.
A matter of taste
Walsh provides an interesting mix of classic French and some Asian-inspired delights. One way of experiencing the range could be to start with some escargot a la Bourguignon ($11), followed by the braised duck breast with poached pears and a hint of ginger ($24). Or perhaps a grilled goat’s cheese with mixed leaves, lardoons, and croutons ($12), followed by the angus eye fillet marinated in Japanese sesame sauce ($28). An equally lovely way of doing it would be to kick off with a bucks fizz or two and see what happens after that. Anything could really, if you become infected with Walsh’s enthusiasm and love of life. Dessert is also an appropriately rich French experience. The crème framboise with raspberry coulis is light and not too sweet, but you will want two. Or maybe you should try the delightful-sounding chocolate mousse with griottines and kirsch.
A word in private
There is also a perfect room upstairs that can accommodate 10-35 guests for private parties, with several menu options to choose from.”
Friday May 24 2002