Friday, 25 April 2008

la grande bouffe

Shop 1 & 2, 758 Darling St
Rozelle NSW 2039
Phone (02) 9818 4333
Fax (02) 9810 5025

canard al al terrine

Anzac day in Rozelle and Balmain can be hazardous to one's health if you don't like crowds. Event fencing, cheap beer and two-up definitely draws the masses, but luckily this means that tables at cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood are a little more available if you're after a meal rather than a pint.

Usually busy La Grande Bouffe was one such establishment and what better time than to enjoy more hearty french bistro food than cooler days and changing autumn leaves.

There are some great specials here, such as the entree and plat du jour for $30 at lunch, and some of the all-day menu options such as the smoked ham hock with lentils and an poached egg are certainly attractive.

The aforementioned ham hock is a great alternative to regular breakfast fare, without forgoing the egg and pork combination many people venture out for on the weekend. The hock's smoky flavour was well partnered with the perfectly poached egg, once split, creates a rich soupy jus with the lentils and sauce..order a baguette to get the most out of this dish if you are hungry. The lentil/sauce in combination with the ham hock may prove to be a little salty for some but its nothing a nice pinot won't fix.

A shared entree of Duck Terrine, Cornichons and Toasted Baguette was a little short on the cornichons (more a garnish than something worth mentioning on the menu) however the terrine, wrapped in streaky bacon was meaty and full of flavour. Accompanied with a warm baguette, the consistency of the terrine didn't spread as well as one might have hoped however was still nevertheless satisfying.


On a lighter note, the classic Moules Marinieres et Frites (Mussels and Fries) are served with a green salad and the mussels are cooked in white wine, onions and thyme - simple and clean flavours with a great taste of the sea. Again, to me nothing is better than to mop the tasty juices with some baguette.

confit poule casoulet

If hearty is more your thing, the Confit Cornfed Chicken Maryland with Cassoulet Beans is a Toulouse favourite - the most authentic version of which is often highly contested. Regardless, the cassoulet bean stew contains pork belly and Toulouse sausage, topped with the confit of chicken, is a corker of a way to cure a hangover. The chicken is satisfyingly crisp on the outside and the meat tender and melting in its interior. Despite its heaviness, the flavor still retains a lightness and is great with a crisp semillion sav blanc to cut the richness.

To finish, the Chocolate Marquise with Frangelico Ice Cream and Praline is an indulgent way to end the meal, but you can always lessen the guilt by sharing. The marquise is rich and chocolaty as expected however the frangelico in the ice cream appeared to have been taken the day off like everyone else.

If its a leisurely, casual and slightly indulgent lunch you're after, you'd be hard pressed to find better in Rozelle.