There is something incredibly comforting about this place. The dishes are old-fashioned classics. The sort of thing my parents were probably eating when they were dating. The servings are generous, none of these mere mouthful sized portions on oversized plates. The décor is simple – exposed brick and a black feature wall with prints and copper pans. The prices are very reasonable, especially given the serving sizes, so you can ask for the bill without trepidation. The type of place where from the moment you make the booking to when you step out the door, you don’t have a worry.
The front of house consists of one very capable man who refills your water and breadbasket an instant before you realise it’s empty. A lovely man who indulges you with just enough French to bring back your school days but not so much you need a dictionary.
We start with the shared plate which features cured meats, pickles, a gorgeous goats cheese, a beautiful terrine, stuffed eggplant, smoked salmon blinis, and a solitary oyster. It’s designed for one but easily feeds two.
The duck with confit leg served with pommes dauphinoise and Iranian figs is beautifully rich. The slices are juicy and tender while the confit leg meat melts away from the bone under the luscious crisp skin.
I convince The Writer to order the roast venison with blackcurrants and chestnuts. Soft slices of venison are paired perfectly with the sweet sauce. With the obligatory sides of pomme frites and a blue cheese and walnut salad I hope our arteries will forgive us.
We make the mature decision to skip dessert and finish with an espresso yet somehow as the waiter reads out the dessert specials a voice from our table says “one of those please” and neither of us has any regrets. Two proud little profiteroles arrive doused in chocolate sauce. They aren’t exquisite but they are simple and comforting and as we chase the last crumbs around the plate I think that’s what I like about this place. The food is not as refined as Libertine, the produce not as impressive and service not as smooth but it is a wonderful little spot.
The lovely Frenchman walks us to the door and I’m quite sure I’ll be stepping through it again soon.
400 Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy
Phone: 9481 5015
Dinner Tues-Sun 6pm-late