Ahhhh Bonjour mes amis! C'est la journée parfaite. And it really was. Rain threatened to kill the day but it never happened. And I can't help but get all excited anything french. I'm a self- admitted francophile, just the mere thought of french girls' exotic accents to getting lost in Paris's magical buildings or the language itself with all the sibilance and silences to waking up with a croissant in one hand and a macaron in the other sends me in french filled stupor. And it helps that french workers happen to have a 2 hour lunch break standard. Enough for a quick degustation. Can't possibly be a bad thing right?
Forgive me for the shakiness of the pictures. That was due to the aforementioned excitement. That in conjunction with the lighting makes this a nightmare place to take pictures.
Deviate off the main road and onto a little alleyway befitting of the Melbourne CBD, walk through the outside smoking dining area complete with the requisite awnings, past the legions of long-aproned, bow tied waiters and wine-walled dining area, plop yourself on at a table with your own frilly table lamp and you know you've stepped into Merivale's faithfully beautiful rendition of little France.
A basket of assorted sourdough was placed in front of us before we even did anything, a sign of the homely generosity to come. Crust was chewy and nutty and the butter was cheesy and soft, a good way to start off.
Munching on bread, you can't help but look around in awe of the world you've just stepped into. Opened kitchen on the left, oyster bar in the middle with stacks of unopened oysters ready to be shucked sitting on ice and a bar to the right all walled in with french wines. Browsing through the menu reveals a unmistakable collection of french classics like steak tartare, bouillabaisse and tripes a la lyonnaise but it's the duck confit and parfait that catches my eye, two quintessential dishes no French brasserie is complete without.
|Chicken Liver Pate, Currant Relish, Cournichons 16|
I'm starting to really really like liver parfait because this rustic dish was brilliant. You get hunks of torn sourdough, a little watercress, zingy gherkins and fruity currants and most importantly, a rich, smooth and spreadable parfait and that would quite possible be one of the best single bites I've ever had. Oh and cournichons are awesome, really awesome, just pierces through all that fattiness and has a lovely bite. I just abandoned all cutlery and went cave man because you have to be really meticulous while putting everything in a single bite. The sourdough was charred a little more than I preferred though.
|Goats Cheese Soufflé 22|
Bring a defibrillator because Oh man this souffle is heart-attack inducing. So cheesy and yummy, eggy and the caramelised crust gives it a real nice crisp texture. Probably not suitable eating this by yourself though, and a few nuts or a little salad or herbs on top wouldn't go amiss.
|Oysters with Condiments 3.50 each|
E kept telling me repeatedly how good these oysters were, small yet plump and achingly fresh. Man... I regret a little not getting some.
|Garlic Mash 10|
The garlic mash was as it should be: smooth and buttery. However the garlic flavour was lacking to the point of non-existent, something that would helped bring another dimension of flavour.
|Duck confit, red grapes, walnut, frisee, radicchio 32|
Duck was crispy and fall apart but it is really the salad of radicchio, frisee, grapes, cournichons and walnuts that makes it even better. Such a wickedly intelligent combination; tart, crispy, fall off the bone tender, bitter, crunchy, all types of sweet and the wonderfully sticky sweet sauce just lifts it and just makes it a real winning dish.
|Pan fried fish with cabbage salad and cucumber creme fraiche 28|
L had this and quite enjoyed it. I sampled a bit and the fish was perfectly cooked and moist, the salad, creamy and zingy yet not sickening, at least not to me.
|Lamb pie, sautéed mushrooms, and tarragon jus 32|
My friend E had a look at the menu and exclaimed "what? 32 for a pie?". She then went ahead and ordered it. I too, however, share her opinion and am mixed about this pie. I love mushrooms, however it may have been a bit too much, admittedly they get sickening sucking up the sweet sauce. The filling was packed with meat but was a tad dry. However, spiking it with a little tarragon gives it a hearty aniseedy punch and the pastry had a satisfying crisp. A little extra greenery would have been nice.
Felix is charming bistro located in the heart of NSW CBD but it might as well have been teleported from Paris itself. And there's so much more to try: de plateau de fruits de mer (fun fact, fruit is pronounce "fweets" in french, I found that interesting...), the entire dessert menu, the wines, something from the rotisserie, the regular daily specials like bouillabaisse. Hospitality was light-hearted and friendly and the food was thoughtful despite being a little heavy-handed. But really, what is french food without that little extra portion of butter, or cheese, or a dollop of cream, an extra sprinkling of sugar? A touch of luxury. Oui, s'il vous plaît
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