This could’ve been another instalment of The Kicciboo Tales, but since it involved quite a few dishes, I’m pushing it as a separate post.
La Pétanque is a well regarded, one-hatted French restaurant in Mornington Peninsula. I remember Lachy and Agnes recommending it, so Kicci and I took a rather long and scary drive into pitch black country roads (it gets dark at 5.30pm in winter) and dined there one weekend.
We found ourselves in a comforting, country-style restaurant, eerily in the middle of nowhere. Alot of its interior is all glass panels, If we’d visited for lunch, we could’ve enjoyed views of olive groves and vineyards surrounding the homestead.
After we took our seats, an encyclopaedic-like wine menu arrived, this place will be heaven for wine connoisseurs.
2009 Stumpy Gully Merlot, Moorooduc, Mornington Peninsula 12
Being alcoholic lightweights, we settled on a glass of Merlot each for the whole meal. It was spicy and medium-bodied with nice sweetness.
La Petanque runs a prix fixe menu for dinner, where two courses go at $68, and three courses costs $87. We chose to get entrées and mains first, and decide later whether there’s space for dessert.
Amuse Bouche of salmon, goats yoghurt, thyme gel
They started us with spiced Kalamata olives with aged balsamic glaze and a serve of delicious warm bread. Then this amuse bouche arrived, I wrote down that “it had a rich mouthfeel with an oakey finish”. In retrospect, that sounded a bit like wine-tasting!
Honey glazed Otway pork belly, Hervey Bay scallops, shitake mushroom and preserved lemon jus
The entrées were very good. Kicci quite predictably chose pork belly and he found it delightful. The crackling was really crisp and it reminded him of Chinese suckling pig. The pan-seared scallop was moist and juicy-sweet too. Perfect.
Organic beef tatare, shallots, capers, cornichons, parsley, quail egg and pommes gaufrettes
For my entrée, I had what was probably the nicest beef tartare I’ve ever eaten. It was lightly seasoned, which allowed us to enjoy the actual meat. The beef itself was very fresh and beautiful to savour. And they’d cut it into small cubes rather than mincing it, which was a nice textural change.
What I wasn’t as sure about were the pommes gaufrettes. They were very much like potato crisps, the salt and potato flavour in them detracted from the actual enjoyment of the tartare. So I ate them separately.
Aged John Dee grain fed beef sirloin, braised ox cheeks, heirloom carrots, seeds, grains, horseradish cream
This was Kicci’s main, and sadly, he wasn’t too fond of it. The sirloin steak was juuust a bit more cooked than his requested medium rare, and to be honest, I had a nibble too and the meat quality just tasted o-kay. Even less exciting were the braised cheeks, they were actually quite dry inside and lacked succulence and flavour.
Looking back at the menu we also could not find horseradish cream anywhere on the dish, maybe it was meant to be served on the side but they forgot. The vegetable components of this dish tasted good and its overall presentation was good, but the anchor ingredient (beef) did not hit the mark. In Kicci’s opinion, for the prices we we’re paying, that constitutes a fail.
Pan roasted Poussin, petit pois à la Française, kaiserfleisch bacon and cooking jus
On the brighter side, my main dish was stunning…
The poussin was cooked to a delicate, velvety succulence. I’ve never eaten roast chicken as soft as this, you could cut through the flesh with a butter knife. The seasoning was delicious and perfectly balanced as well. This dish was incredibly yummy. I saw that Kicci wasn’t really enjoying his steak, so I shared almost half of my chicken with him.
Soft centered ‘Guanaja’ Valrhona chocolate biscuit, almond praline anglaise and tahiti vanilla bean ice cream
The entrées and mains weren’t that big, so we definitely had space for dessert. The chocolate biscuit was essentially a chocolate fondant made with Valrhona chocolate. On cutting, we thought the insides could’ve been more spilly. Kicci thought this dessert was of good quality but not a ‘wow’.
Cantal ‘Entre-Deux’, six months old semi hard cheese from Auvergne, centre France Bleu d’ Auvergne affine ‘Herbé Mons’, soft, creamy blue cheese from Auvergne, Massif Central, France served with quince paste dry figs and Lavoche
I remember Lachy mentioning how he loved loved loved the cheeses served here, so I decided to do that for dessert, which was very unlike me. I don’t eat cheeses that often, but I usually prefer the pungent and softer varieties. So it’s understandable that I wasn’t that enthused about the semi hard ‘Entre Deux’.
But unfortunately, the creamy blue ‘Herbé Mons’ tasted CRAZY SALTY on my tongue. I could vaguely sense nice, nuanced flavours far in the distance, but the insane levels of saltiness made it impossible for me to enjoy it by any stretch. Maybe I’m not really a cheese person after all…
Petit fours of chocolate jelly
I’m not as sure of our meal here. Kicci was quite unhappy about the poor quality of his main dish, and the desserts were just a little underwhelming. However, the dishes that were good were actually stunning dishes in their own right. Service was wonderful and the ambience very cosy and bistro-in-the-country like.
But I think at the end of the day, for this price bracket, the meal could’ve been better.
Here’s the driveway that leads into the restaurant. When we left the restaurant, it was very quiet outside. Just by looking up at the sky, you could see a million stars…