Birthday Lunch #35: The French Cafe

We both took the day off work and Selena decided to surprise me with lunch at The French Cafe, we opted to have the chef’s 9 courses tasting menu, with matching wines. It took 3 and a half hours, and was very good.

Gazpacho sorbet. Watermelon and cucumber salad. Curd. Feta.

Marinated kingfish, caviar. Apple and elderflower cider.

This was the only clunker for me, the caviar was overpowering. I felt like perhaps it was past its best, though Selena liked it rather a lot – so perhaps it’s just a question of degree of seafood fandom.

The elderflower cider was delightfully light and refreshing though.

Whitebait “sandwich”. Lemon mayo, cos, watercress. Champalou Vouvray, 2009.

The whitebait was dense – no mean portions here, that’s for sure. Moist, delicious.

Spanner crab risotto. Pearl barley, shellfish foam, mustard sorbet. Sin Palabras Castrovaldes Albarino, 2010.

I found the texture of the pearl barley to be highly satisfying, and the flavour of the mustard and spanner crab was perfect.

Selena wasn’t a fan, but I still think it was exquisite.

Quail B’stila. Poached apricot, pistachio, chickpea, cinnamon, yoghurt. Willy Gisselbrecht, 2009.

Coincidence on the wine, is Sel’s fave, and we usually have a couple of bottles in the fridge at home, though it’s getting quite hard to come by.

Seared duck breast, asian greens, mandarin puree. Vincent Girardin Rouge Cuvee Saint Vincent, 2008.

The mandarin puree was perhaps a little overpowering, its extremely pure flavour brought with it a tad too much bitterness – not a problem as it was served as you can see, so I could have as much or as little as I liked with the duck.

Instead of duck, Sel opted for snapper, toasted almonds, green beans, wild prawns, cauli cream. Domaine Emilian Gillet Quintaine, 2008.

Roasted French goat cheese on fig and beetroot tart, with a red wine syrup and edible borage flower. Greenhough Pinot Noire, 2008. Gorgeous!

Poached strawberries, buttermilk panacotta, raspberry, watermelon & rosewater granita. No wine with this course.


Bitter chocolate mousse, spiced cherry sorbet, chocolate crumb, coconut mousse. Puig-Parahy, 2005. Extraordinary.

The Puig-Parahy is outstanding. Raisins, dates, hazelnut. Perfect match with the chocolate in that last course.

Nine courses and eight wines later and we’re done.

Thank you, French Cafe.