A fellow foodie friend of mine told me about this French restaurant that she had heard good things about. For $50 for three courses (well, $51.50 to be exact), I was sold. Of course I always have the pathetic excuse of “At least it’s good to blog about.”

I still remember the first French restaurant I ever went to. It was in high school, I think I must have been about 14 or so, in my year eight French class, when our class was taken on an excursion to taste French food in Darling Harbor. Actually I don’t remember the name of the place.. What I mostly remember was shuddering at the garlic snails on the entree menu. People keep telling me you don’t really taste them and its really “All about the garlic butter”, but… uh. No thanks. I think i’ll just stick to garlic bread – a far simpler way (in my opinion) to consume garlic butter.

We enter the restaurant and I instantly know that its going to result in dark photos. One of the worst things about dining in nice restaurants, I’ve found, is that they’re all dim and ‘romantically’ lit, which is nice when you’re dining with a significant other, but not when you’re a food blogger! It results in taking a bit longer to get that good photo, and I always feel guilty about making my friends wait for their food to be photographed. Although I am a little amused that whenever I eat out with anyone now, they always wait patiently (and automatically) for me to take my food pics – even pushing their dishes towards me so I can get a better angle. Aw, thanks you guys 🙂 Anyway, some of these pics are a liittle bit dark. Soz!

I browse the menu and am excited by mentions of french onion soup, goats cheese, roast rack of lamb. The words “creamy mushroom sauce” is seductively inviting. The dessert menu is even better. CrĂŞpes flambĂ©es au grand Marnier, crème brĂ»lĂ©e, chocolate mousse and profiteroles.. heaven.

While we are making our choice, we are served pâté with toasts.

When I was a bit younger, I used to think of pâtĂ© as a ‘bit gross.’ But I have certainly changed my mind, all for the better. This pâtĂ© is rich and creamy and goes perfectly with the crisp toast. We wish for more toast, but don’t want to fill up, so we load up the last piece of toast with a decent smear of pâtĂ© and watch regretfully as it is taken away.

I choose the deep fried mushrooms with tartare sauce for my entree and my friend Ghilaine chooses the week special, deep fried camembert with raspberry sauce. I was very tempted by the French onion soup, but I’ve never had deep fried mushrooms and thought I’d go with the new experience. Ghilaine picks the camembert with a smile, saying “I can’t resist deep fried cheese.” Amen, sister.

The camembert is a lovely balance of creamy and crispy. The raspberry sauce adds a nice touch of sweetness, although it tastes exactly like raspberry jam.

The mushrooms are breaded and then deep fried – something I’ve never seen before at any restaurant. They are quite good, but extremely filling. The tartare sauce adds a nice dimension of lightness to the richness of the mushrooms, but I am struggling to finish them.

Ghilaine orders the braised duck in orange and Grand Marnier sauce. I taste a little and the duck imparts a strong orange flavour and the meat is well braised – it falls to pieces quite easily (this is a good thing). I have to say that I did prefer my main to the duck though.

I find it difficult to go past lamb of any kind as a main dish. I just can’t resist lamb with a pink centre – plus I find it difficult to recreate at home, so this usually makes an easy choice for me. The lamb is served with a cheese and garlic mashed potato and what tastes like a balsamic or red wine reduction. It is delicious and perfectly cooked, but after the mushrooms, I really struggle with this. I can only finish two of the cutlets – sad, but I’m practically dying by the end of it!

We are also served a side dish of vegetables, again, which we found difficult to get into. I’m afraid we barely finished it at all, but the green beans were garlicky and tender and amazing. The crispy potatoes are also a nice addition.

Finally, we get to the best part — Dessert.

Ghilaine is feeling pretty full by this point, so she opts for the (slightly) lighter option of the pavlova (Meringue, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries on a raspberry coulis). I can’t go to a French restaurant and not order crème brĂ»lĂ©e, which was once one of my favourite desserts for many years. When my bf and I were first dating, I would go visit him at his work in St. Leonards and we would go to cafes to share a crème brĂ»lĂ©e at a nearby restaurant.. Good times :).  I love watching the scene in AmĂ©lie, where she describes the pleasure she gets from cracking the toffee on the crème brĂ»lĂ©e with a spoon – I feel exactly the same way. I love that movie! Just listening to the sound track or playing the music on the piano gives me such a lovely feeling of calm 🙂

My crème brûlée cracks delightfully with a sharp crack with my spoon, revealing the creamy vanilla custard underneath. I savour every spoonful.

Ghilaine’s dessert comes, surprisingly, in the shape of pretty swan! I loved the presentation of her dish. It was a scoop of icecream, surrounded with piped, freshly whipped cream and then meringue shaped to look like wings a head/beak. I was very impressed.

Finally we are finished. With groaning tummies that are full of delicious French food, we drag ourselves back to our car/scooter and drive ourselves home. I sleep easily and dream of French food 🙂

Chez Maurice et Linda is at 292 Sydney Road Balgowlah 2093 and you can make reservations on (02) 9949 4155.

Wonderful value for delicious French food – two courses for $43.50 or three for $51.50. I think next time if I come back, I’ll opt for two courses with a partner and we can share entree and dessert – three courses each was quite large for two girls.

Enjoy!

xx

Christine

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