Melbourne – a city that offers great many wondrous cuisine with authenticity. One of them that I’m referring to is a restaurant located on the busy street of Toorak/Chapel with a frontage that is so normal that you would not even have noticed. In fact, what lies behind the plain frontage is A La Bouffe, a French eatery that is all French.
Walking into the restaurant gave me a very French-y vibe of an intimate French bistro in Paris. The ground level translates to relaxed casual space with cherry maroon cushion, art deco mirrors adorned by black old fashioned wood and clean white tablecloth. The upper level presents a more formal celebrated dining area sparkled by grand crystal chandeliers. The service was also undoubtedly friendly and unpretentious.
A La Bouffe offers two types of lunch menu – first menu provides French bistro-like dishes with two courses plus wine and coffee at $35 (what a steal!) while the second, lean towards a more comprehensive a la carte menu featuring traditional French cuisine.
We decided to go for the a la carte – as part of our first course, we had Kir royal cocktail and the L’Asiette de Degustation which is a tasting plate serving six selections from their menu. The highlight for me was the onion tart, coffin bay oyster and smoked salmon. The onion tart was beautifully crisp, light with golden puff pastry that melts in mouth. Together with the caramelised onion and the buttery flavour of the pastry, it was Ooh La La.
My hubby decided to try Cuisse De Canard Bourguignonne – literally translated to Duck leg cooked in red wine, mushrooms, bacon & onion sauce. While we can’t even pronounce the name of the dish, we could absolutely taste the flavours translated into heartfelt French cooking. The red wine used to cook this dish truly enriched the meat beautifully.
On the other hand, I ordered Bouillabaisse – a more traditional fare from the South of France and indeed a very indulgent stew. The soup base was delightfully enriched with seafood flavours while the traditional herbs gently lent a lingering taste in my mouth. It also came with accompaniments by the side like spicy mayonnaise, dipping bread and parmesan cheese.
A La Bouffe’s dessert list is nothing short of impressive and offers a good range of traditional French sweets as well as modern desserts. I was immediately attracted to A La Bouffe’s famed Millefeuille, made in a traditional way with crumbly crisp layers of puff pastry alternating with layers of creme patissiere and fresh strawberry slices. The top layer is coated with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and served on berry coulis. We couldn’t stop ourselves from devouring it. A magnifique dessert!
Another rendition of a classic French dessert – Crepes Suzette, was brought to us and flambeed on the table with orange and Grand Marnier. It was served with french vanilla ice cream. Bravo, another fabulous one.
Verdict : I slapped myself for not discovering this little gem earlier. There was nothing pretentious about A La Bouffe, who serves genuinely delicious traditional French fares. If you are homesick for some delightful French cuisine, look no further, it’s just around the corner. Bon appetit!
To die for : Bouillabaisse, A La Bouffe Millefeuille, Cuisse De Canard Bourguignonne
Price : $$$
Yummy Factor : +4
Noise Level : Low