Mum’s birthday fell on one of the days we were in Sydney so I planned to take her out to somewhere a little bit more special. First choice was Guillaume at Bennelong at the Opera House but they were already fully booked on the days we wanted. So next choice was L’Etoile Restaurant and Bar in Paddington. Mum doesn’t really care where we eat but if it were up to me we’d eat French food all day long. L’Etoile was just a coincidence though; reasonable prices and located in one of my favourite suburbs in Sydney.
After a morning of arriving in Sydney and shopping in the Paddington district, we headed off to mum’s birthday lunch. It was surprisingly quiet inside the restaurant on a Saturday. I thought we were just early but there were only 2 other occupied tables the whole time we were there. I won’t be complaining on this though because the waitress gave us an almost full attention. Mum’s incessant requests for hot water with lemon was accommodated with a smiling face and after about the 3rd time of topping up her water the waitress just automatically checked on us to see if we needed more lemon slices.
We got an entree to share among 3 people – Boudin de St Jacques, Bisque de Crustace (Silky Sausage of Scallops with Crustacean Bisque). What I loved were the flavours of the individual elements on the plate. The scallops were tender and came in big chunks; the sausage was made with egg, sort of like a savoury custard, that was silky smooth; and the bisque had a strong crustacean taste.
For mains, mum and mum’s friend both opted for something lighter since we had breakfast not too long ago. Both got different fish mains. One had a Truite de Mer Confite, Beurre Blanc a L’Oseille, Puree de Petit Pois et Coupeaux de Fenouil (Ocean Trout Confit, Sorrel Butter Sauce, Peas Puree and Shaved Fennel). Fish was fresh and fennel added a nice texture to the dish.
The other had a Kingfish Roti, Mousseline de Panais, Poelee de Champignons, Chataigne et Noisette (Pan-roasted Kingfish, Parsnips Puree, Seasonal Mushrooms sauteed with Crushed Chestnuts and Hazelnuts). Mum says the kingfish is cooked just right – fish was just flaking and moist.
And me, well, I had something a little bit heavier – Cote de Veau de Lait Poelee, Gratin Dauphinois (Pan-roasted Milk-fed Veal Cutlet, Potatoes Gratin, Thyme Jus). Whilst I did not find anything too special with this dish, I did like the fact that thyme was obviously present in the dish. It added that extra kick to an otherwise simple dish.
The highlight of the lunch, for me, was the Creme Brûlée a la Vanille et Tuile d’Amande (Classic Vanilla Creme Brûlée with Almond Tuile). The serving was big for it was good for sharing. The custard was very smooth and the sugar on top was perfectly torched. The slightest hint of bitterness from the burnt sugar complemented the sweetness of the custard really, really well. If I wasn’t that full I probably would have devoured the whole thing myself. It was the perfect way to finish the meal.