Monday, 15 March 2010


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???).

Fresh oysters

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 :)

Embrasse Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. The presentation is a bit odd - like they are really trying to impress with the smears and different components, but the end result looks a bit haphazardly messy. I do like that little mushroom in the dessert though :)

    That cheesy mash is confusing me! I want to try it!

  2. Aligot is wonderful, although if you told someone from Auvergne or Aubrac (Southwestern central France, in the Massif Central mountain range) that THEIR dish was from the South of France, they'd be pretty indignant! :)

    This Food and Wine Festival sounds a lot like the "Restaurant Week" in many US cities. The probalem is, many restaurants lose money on these weeks, and honestly, don't expect to see the customers again until next year. Sad but true.

  3. Hi Conor: agree that the presentation was odd. Cheesy mash is amazing; think of a cheese fondue and then add a bit of mashed potato to it. Seriously decadent - I forced myself to go for a run after eating it

    Ca va Camille: I'll rectify my note on the aligot and make sure I don't upset the French, thanks for tip!