Not too long ago a good friend on mine posted a photo from her Instagram account of a wonderful meal she had at Les Bistronomes. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to go there. Fast forward a couple of months and I still hadn’t managed to get there, instead I was taking my daughter to a birthday party for a little girl at her preschool. Low and behold, the dad of one of her friends is Clement Chauvin, the head chef and owner of Les Bistronomes. Fantastic you think! Yeah… could be – but I wanted to go to his restaurant and write a review. What if I went there and I hated the food, or the service was terrible. What then? Will I ruin my daughter’s friendship with his little girl?
Obviously this wasn’t the case! (This would be a very different blog post – or none at all if that had been the case) I used the excuse for a long overdue mummy/daughter catch up time to take my mum to Les Bistronomes.
I didn’t tell Clement that I was going as I didn’t want him to feel obliged to treat me any differently – given he’d be likely to see me a lot at drop off and pick up. Even as a teacher I know that it can sometimes be awkward when your work and home life intersect. So when we turned up, we were just another booking for lunch.
The decor is simple and belies the quality of the food you are about to be served. But yet at the same time, the simplicity of the decor is refreshing, it’s almost like eating at home – except there is no way I can cook what his kitchen delivers!
Feeling hungry, we chose the crépinette which was designed to be eaten by two people. Although, our version of feeling hungry means getting a main course and having dessert, as opposed to having an entree, main and dessert. We might skimp on many things but we never forgo dessert! I chose the chocolate fondant cake with pistachio ice-cream for dessert.
As you might expect, by the time our order was chosen, Clement has spied us. Very kindly he sent out his salmon gravlax while we waited for our main course. Inside I cringed. He’d been so generous – but how do I tell him that I don’t actually eat salmon? Easy, I don’t. I just eat it. And I’m so glad I did. It was amazing. I was concerned that it would have that ‘fishy’ smell that turns my stomach, but it didn’t. According to Clement, my issue with salmon is not the salmon at all, it’s the quality of salmon that I’ve been eating. Yes. That would make sense. His dish was sublime. Please consider me now a salmon convert – a big call if you know my aversion to seafood… maybe I’m growing up? And seriously, how pretty is his salmon gravlax?
It was interesting listening to Clement who chatted to us about the challenges of catering to a Canberra crowd. He commented that when he was learning, his mentor told him that you feed your patrons, you don’t fatten them. However in Canberra, and I’d noticed this myself, quality is often viewed as linked to quantity. Clement told us that when he first opened he’d gone to great lengths to source the best produce, creating dishes of the highest quality… but unfortunately, given the feedback he received, his meals weren’t the size that Canberrans seemed to prefer. Clement revisted his menu, changing his dishes slightly so that he could serve dishes that were much larger in size and this won his Canberra audience over. I could see his point, and our inability to finish our main course spoke to the generous portion of the crépinette. I think we could’ve easily made it a main course for four adults, instead of two! But in achieving quantity, he hadn’t compromised on flavour. It was a hearty meal and was quickly devoured. And it was sort of meal that you devoured. This was not a dainty dish – unlike most nearly everything else on the menu!
We finished our meal with the chocolate fondant cake and pistachio ice-cream. Oh. My. Goodness. I’d seen this cooked on Masterchef. I know that it isn’t the easiest of cakes to get right which is why I’ve never been bothered attempting it myself, and also why I ordered it. It tasted just how it looks. Amazing.
The cake was perfect, moist but still most definitely a cake, complete with a soft, light texture… and the fondant centre just oozed. You only have to look at the photograph. Yes, it was so good I think I we need two photographs to do it justice.
The menu is seasonal, so please check the Les Bistronomes website for what is currently being served. There are also many special menus created for various holidays and occassions.
Entrees start around $14 and mains start from around $30 (prices change according to the menu)