I love a good musical. I'm actually seeing Les Miserables at Her Majesty's later tonight, which I've been hanging out for since pre-sale (you wonder why they just couldn't be called sale…) tickets were launched in January. I expect there to be tears of joy.
So when Prix Fixe opened their doors earlier this year, when they described their ticketing system like that of a musical, it just made so much sense. Yes, it's Melbourne's first ticketed restaurant, but fortunately, it's pretty straight forward!
I won't go into too much detail, since the website is pretty clear, but you simply book a night and time, and number of people and show up and food is presented to you! Just like a musical. A four course dinner is $79, lunch of two or three courses with a glass of wine is $49 and $69. Tres simple.
Every month, Philippa Sibley changes the menu, giving each month a theme…and this month, it's Vive La France, and all things French, which seems very timely, considering Les Miserables is in town!
I visited with my friend Bruce, after Brad left to Europe, on a blustery night. Located in Alfred Place, it's quiet and inconspicous from the outside, but push the door open and you find yourself in a simply lovely space, that I found quite soothing. Clean, with modern edges (exposed ceiling etc) but it was very refined and composed.
Although I was there with a friend, I could see it being a lovely date night spot as well, it wasn't a particularly busy Wednesday night, but there were a fair few couples enjoying a glass of red together and a few moments of gazing into each other's eyes.
We were left with the menu to have a quick look at and decide if we wanted to add oysters or cheese, and also order some wine.
Only made sense for me to order a Lillet Blanc. French enough non?
I was positively tickled to see that bread is served directly onto the table, a lovely crusty bread that left quite a bit of proof you had taken a bite out of it.
Our first course positively surprised me when it arrived at the table. It read 'Gougere A L'Oignon - Gougere, onion, Gruyere'…so I had assumed an onion soup (but then I didn't know what a Gougere was). But no! Instead we had a beautiful choux pastry filled with beautifully melted gruyere on top of an onion soup base.
Aah. Just lovely. Comfort food presented ever so elegantly, there was nothing to dislike about the aromatic and intensely rich onions…although I have to say eating it made me kind of wish I was having it as a soup, because I could only imagine how good it would have been!
The 'Oeufs Bourguinon' was a red wine poached egg with nettle, champignons, escargot, lardons and crust, once again, delicately plated, with a beautiful mix of colours and textures. I was absolutely amazed at the colour they got into the egg (from the wine most assumedly) and even more smitten when it was broken open and the rich orange yolks cascaded over the deep mahogany and vivid green of the nettle. A real dose of eye candy. And not to mention delicious, the flavour of the wine was subtle but elegant and nicely complemented by the the bright nettle.
And man those bread crusts were so crunchy. So perfectly toasted!
The 'Canard A L'Orange' blushed furiously as it was placed in front of me, another absolutely stunningly coloured dish. Confit en brick, roasted duck breast, a touch of citrus, green peppercorns and caramelised witlof, served with a serve of Parisian mash.
Wow. I have to say I'm not usually a huge fan of orange in my food (orange chocolate is one of the only chocolates I don't really like), but this was so well balanced! Absolutely nothing to fault here, with tender duck breast, rich confit duck leg and brik pastry that just ever so lightly crunched. The sweetness of the witlof was just perfect as well.
And that Parisian mash…so smooth and just so, so creamy!
We opted in for an additional cheese course which was a truffle camembert with brioche and fine herbs because it is truffle season after all! Whilst I found the truffle smell and flavour wasn't very prominent, it was definitely one of the best camembert's I've ever had, velvety and light, perfect with the fine herbs it was served with, bringing in a spot of freshness.
Although dessert, the 'Laissez-les Manger Gateau' didn't look like too much at first (it's inspired by Marie Antoinette's hairdo I believe…) there was so much goodness hiding within. Lady finger biscuits soaked in rum, passionfruit curd, milk chocolate mousse and even a almond milk sorbet (or something like that, my iPhone notes say soul ever, so I figure that's the closest thing it could be…), just so much going on! Every bite, another flavour, another texture, something new to find. I loved that it was a cold dessert (since I am very, very partial to ice-cream) and that it was also quite sizeable, relishing every bite.
I really enjoyed the experience at Prix Fixe, in the sea of casual dining, long lines and pumping music, where restaurants are almost becoming clubs, Prix Fixe brings back out the white table cloth and softly spoken waiters who comb the tables for crumbs after the mains to bring back some of that old school hospitality. It's not stuffy or pretentious at all, but it certainly feels very classy.
Each of our dishes was impeccably prepared, and I don't feel like I've seen such high quality food in a while. Sibley's found herself a beautiful niche in all the noise of the Melbourne dining scene and I can't wait to see what's coming up in the months to come.
90 Collins Street
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