312 Drummond St, Carlton - ph: 9347 3312
Visited Embrasse for the first time this Sunday for their Food and Wine Festival lunch special: 2 courses + a glass of wine for $35.
Again, Embrasse is another restaurant I keep hearing people rave about and wanted to give it a go. The restaurant is where 'Three One Two' used to be (by Andrew McConnell, the the Executive Chef of Cumulus Inc and Cutler & Co) and is supposed to rate nearly as high as its predecessor. Their head chef, Nicolas Poelaerte, was awarded Young chef of the year 2010 by The Age and the restaurant was voted Best new restaurant by the Restaurants & Caterers Association.
The restaurant is pretty small and it resembles a modern French bistro.
The Festival menu had two choices of entree, main and dessert to opt from. Entree options were (1) Coffin bay oysters and (2) smoked tomatoes, radishes, herbs & milk mousse served with sable pastry and cured ham (question mark here: isn't all ham cured???).
The oysters I chose were very fresh and nice, but not particularly memorable.
I also had a taste of the smoked tomato and herbs & milk and thought that tasted fantastic. The mousse was incredibly light; its consistency similar to goats curd.
Smoked tomatoes, radishes, herbs & milk mousse served with sable pastry and cured ham
Main options were (3) free range chicken with market greens, cherries and jus gras and (4) poached salmon, peas, carrots and lettuce emulsion.
No-one was really excited about their mains. Salmon and chicken were both well cooked and juicy, but the dishes were just pretty blend. I felt like adding a spoonful of salt and pepper to it. We were simply not impressed.
Free range chicken with market greens, cherries and jus gras
Poached salmon, peas, carrots and lettuce emulsion
In my view, lettuce is a pretty tasteless green, so I was curious to see what the lettuce emulsion would be like. Unfortunately, I have to say they couldn't pull it off. There was nothing exciting about it (I guess it just tasted like lettuce...)
What I enjoyed the most out of our main courses was the side of Southern French-style mash potatoes. You can see in the picture how sticky is was, more like a really thick cheese fondue. It was really cheesy and delicious.
Aligot: cheesy smash potato from Auvergne or Aubrac (Southwestern central France)
Dessert was the star of the day - not so much for flavour, as for an amazing presentation. It looked like something from Alice in Wonderland. The chocolate parfait was great, but the meringue was too hard and too sweet for my taste. There was a green crushed ice component in it as well that also tasted really good, although I'm not sure what it was.
Chocolate parfait, meringue and chocolate gateau
Overall, no-one was majorly impressed with the food, ambiance or service.
It was a nice lunch, but not a memorable one (except for dessert). As with yesterday's Food and Wine Festival lunch special, I'm not sure if the dishes we tried reflect Embrasse's a la carte menu well (in which case, it is a bit silly that they would not make an effort to impress new customers...)
But I have to say I'm very tempted to come back and try their Sunday brunch menu - Crepe au chocolat seems like such a good way to start the day :)