HOT: The Brasserie, 8 Whiteman St, Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank

French food is my favourite cuisine so I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to get to The Brasserie.

I suspect it’s probably because it’s at Crown. Call me a boring repetitive food-blogging snob but I still have trouble in my mind distinguishing between the two sides to Crown–  the sea of crowing casino/nightclub-goers, polyester clinging to liberally orange-tanned bodies vs the impressive fine-dining venues (for example, excellent visits to Rockpool and Nobu).

Tis a shame, because The Brasserie is definitely one in the HOT list of worthwhile restaurants to visit at Crown.

While the decor has a slightly sterile non-offensive hotel-dining feel, the menu is classic French, with a good proportion of lighter elements more suited to Australian climate and palate.

Being a cold winter’s night, RM honed in straight for the days’ special of cassoulet, a huge ramekin of beans, sausage, lardons, confit and rustic homeliness ($35).

On the other hand, I had so much trouble deciding from the menu that I decided to do something which is very unlike me, but I think a habit worth forming so that I can taste more at once (greedy!) – having two entrees. I tried the special entree, zucchini flowers stuffed with crab meat, a much more balanced way to stuff delicate zucchini flowers than the ubiquitous goats’ cheese in my view.

I know it’s a cliché but I can never go past escargot on a French menu. So voila – a ramekin of six buttery, garlicky, slippery snails with tomato fondue, bread croutons and extra bread to mop up the juices ($19).

Then my favourite discovery of the night and I think a must-do – sautéed Parisienne gnocchi with vegetables, from the sides menu. This generous bowl of gently poached pate a choux (no potato, just eggs, butter and milk) is only $8 and a decent entree size portion. It is an absolute bargain hidden in a menu featuring generally medium-to-high prices. Plus it’s just delicious – yielding knobs of pan-fried gnocchi gathered in a sauce that’s light and bursting with fresh flavour.

It’s never crossed my mind to have a side dish as a main course before, but this non-diet-friendly gnocchi is so good that on my next visit I’m definitely returning for it, and probably plus another dish from the sides menu, the Provençale vegetables gratin ($8). I’ll just have to shrug off the potentially puzzled looks from the waiters.

I was definitely not in the realm of dessert-eating after eating so much food (three entrees!), but RM pouted and said he wanted profiteroles ($16). Well, who am I to deny a wish for dessert (especially when I get to taste-test too). The profiteroles were glorious – crowns of featherlight choux pastry sandwiching generous scoops of vanilla bean ice-cream hiding a secret cache of chocolate custard, in a pool of more chocolate. Definitely a dessert for two, I think.

The Brasserie presented some of the finest French food I’ve had in Melbourne. While it’s been housed in a huge corporate complex for a couple of years, I think it’s a restaurant that’s worth getting excited about.

(NB When I visited the restaurant it was The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel but @katspat has informed me that it’s now just The Brasserie ie no Philippe Mouchel. The menu on the website still appears to be very similar to my dinner there and I hope the quality has remained of the same high standard.)

Brasserie By Philippe Mouchel on Urbanspoon

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8 thoughts on “HOT: The Brasserie, 8 Whiteman St, Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank

  1. I LOVE Philippe Mouchel.

    It’s one of those places that people seem to forget about, but has been of a high standard for a long time.

    • Hi Jess

      I agree! Although it seems that maybe there has been some changes from the time I ate there (Philippe) and now (no Philippe). Sad, as I was hanging out for more of the Parisienne gnocchi and profiteroles again!

      Jetsetting Joyce

  2. I was just there yesterday for lunch! If Philip had made his mark, then that ‘mark’ is noticeably gone. I’ve been there several times and yesterday was my first visit after Philip Mouchel left. French duck dishes no longer there.. and the French Fries were more like fat chips. I don’t think I’ll go back now that Philip is gone. If I were to take the resaturant for what it is and ignore the “before/after Philip” comparison, it’s still a nice choice.

  3. Never fear! Philippe will be opening a new restaurant in on Russell St, backed by George Calombaris and The Press Club. He once told me that he would prefer to move away from the crowd at Crown.

  4. Philippe’s new restaurant should be opening around mid-november. It’ll be called PM24 (PM for his initials and 24 because it’ll be on 24 Russell street). Keep an eye out for it! Bistro-fare French with a creative touch!

  5. I have been a customer of Brasserie for a number of years now and my family and I are looking forward to the new opening of the PM24. Please inform me as soon as it opens .We would like to come and see the difference.

    Thanks Chris.

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