Location: New Zealand, Auckland – Newton / Grafton
From reading reviews the French Cafe is a quality experience. I was very early for my table but fortunately a table was free so I got taken straight through. It was a little warm for a jacket so they popped that in the cloak room.
As I looked through the menu which has a degustation and al a carte I was brought an appetizer before I could even order!
Potato crisp served with a smooth creamed cheese and smoked salmon mixture which was delicious. I decided on the al a carte and chose a dish from each of the 3 course sections hoping I could squeeze in dessert.
An amuse bouche of a very smooth pumpkin soup with a chestnut foam was presented. It also came with a spring roll parcel which was crunchy on the outside but rich and creamy on the inside along with the delicious paste it was placed upon. I couldn’t catch the long description of this dish.
Next up was house made bread with thyme butter and another with smoked salmon. I was hoping for butter as we had NZ butter in our hotel in Bali and it’s rich and creamy. I preferred the thyme butter. The smoked salmon oils and flavour really plays with your mind.
Snapper Cerviche crab, apple jelly, verjus,shaved fennel,creme fraiche NZ$22
Full of citrus but not tart acidic, controlled by cucumber and celery, richness from the crème fraiche, and the apple cubes provide a textual contrast from the soft elements, especially the snapper. The dish was interesting and creative. The snapper perfectly cooked through by the acids. A clever and well executed dish. Highly enjoyable.
Roasted Quail wild mushrooms, bacon, chestnut, croissant, black truffle NZ$30
If one had to be highly critical the first piece of quail was just a tad dry on the inside but still moist on the outer. Presenting superbly it tasted even better. The quail wrapped with prosciutto provided just that hint of a salty burst. The smooth dense earthy chestnut puree was delicious with the quail and meat juices. The mushrooms produced more earthy flavours along with the softened whole chestnuts and the dish was rounded out with just the hint of sweetness from the caramelised onion. Fantastic.
Market Fish snapper, artichoke, cauliflower, pine nuts, beurre noisette NZ$46
The tiredness of a long day with little sleep was now taking its toll, exacerbated by the dimly lit intimate setting. Trying to truly enjoy the next dish after all the food thus far was always going to be challenging.
A delicious moist chunky piece of snapper served upon artichoke puree, pine nuts, dehydrated cauliflower, and succulent baby squid was placed in front if me. I was intrigued by the thinly sliced cauliflower, dehydrated, possibly roasted, producing a darkened orange colour. It tasted interesting (in a good way) too. The snapper had a lovely crisp skin atop the perfectly cooked tender snapper. The small bits of cauliflower and other elements presented a lovely mixture to enjoy with the snapper and the smooth creamy puree. The baby octopus was extremely moist and tender. Delicious.
Service provided by the numerous staff was professional on each occasion. Fine dining at its best. Sad I couldn’t sample the dessert. However while settling the bill a palette cleanser of pear and ginger granita was presented. Turned out to be perfect as I was full but this went down a treat. Refreshing and so tasty. Hats off to the chef.
French Cafe Food Review Summary
Verdict: As I slowly savoured the first few items that were presented, the couple next to me who were just leaving mentioned I was in for a treat. How right they were. Fine dining at it’s best, I enjoyed a selection of delicious, creative, and well executed dishes that delivered on flavour, all enjoyed in intimate surrounds with professional service. From the appetizer of the potato crisp, to the amuse bouche of pumpkin soup, to the house made bread with flavoured butter varieties, the start of the meal was excellent. I really loved the creativity shown in the first course of snapper cerviche. Perfectly balanced flavours presented an excellent dish. The next course was the highlight for me. The roasted quail was superb with that earthy chestnut puree. The last course of snapper was an equally delicious dish. Despite having to forgo dessert, the palette cleansing ginger and pear granita was just the perfect end to the meal.
Recommendation: Highly Recommend
French Cafe Restaurant Details
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