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Dinner at Aux Batifolles


Shinboners
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Say it quietly, but I reckon Aux Batifolles might just be the best value French restaurant in Melbourne. A warm dining room, very good service, and excellent food.

We started off with a couple of shared entrees, both of which were specials for the night. The first entree contained three huge prawns (from Queensland) that came grilled along with a dollop of sauce (creamy, herby, but not overpoweringly strong), a few salad leaves, and some relish. They were just ever so slightly overcooked, but never mind, the prawns were very tasty.

The second entree were escargots served with braised mushrooms. Again, the serve was generous and the flavours were glorious. I'm not sure what the mushrooms were, but they were rich and earthy in their flavour. The escargots did their job of carrying the sauce and giving a contrasting texture.

My fiancee had a stew with lobster and chicken (!!!!) presented on some pastry and served with a rich sauce. The presentation wasn't so great - it looked like a pink-brown gooey mess (it sounded so much better on the menu than what it looked on the plate), but again, it was the flavour and the generosity of the serve that dazzled us. I find that sometimes with something like lobster, some people allow the flavours of the sauce to smother the flavour of the lobster. But here, the sauce provided a quiet support to the lobster - and there was plenty of meat to be enjoyed. I did try twice to find a piece of chicken in the stew, but I kept on getting pieces of lobster - that's the sort of failure I can handle.

The waiter convinced me to forego the duck, and instead, try the grilled chicken served with foie gras and potatoes. I was presented with a chicken breast, slightly dry, but with a nice crispy skin and a slab of foie gras on top. Eaten together, it worked a treat. The potatoes were sliced a few millimetres thick, and ever so slightly charred on the edges, were a joy. Good flavour with a wonderful waxy feel in the mouth. It all came with a thick, dark sauce - I assume that it was cherry based. IT was all very, very good.

We finished up with profiteroles. Two of them each, served with good ice cream, and lashings of chocolate sauce. The profiteroles themselves could have been a little bit less chewy, but that's just a minor quibble.

With a glass of wine and a coffee for me, and a lemonade for her, the final bill came at around $120.

The service was very good (great banter with the waiter - he made us laugh a few times with his humour), and the restaurant was only a couple of tables short of being full on a Tuesday night (although that was downstairs - it's a two storey place and I'm not sure if they have an upstairs dining area).

We are keen to make another visit, sooner rather than later.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Shin, I thought I asked you not to write about this place! :biggrin:

I love it too. Never wanted to write about it for the reasons you've implied. Bastille Day there earlier this year was FUNTASTIC.

But I don't care much for Lethlean. He irks me.

Edited addition: Dining room is downstairs only.

Lunch is also served from Tuesday onwards, like dinner.

Chef is Stefan (sp?)... mad bad and dangerous Frenchman.

Edited by PCL (log)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 3 weeks later...

I didn't make it to Aux Batifolles on the weekend.

But welcome to the world, Jade Villiers Hui Lin Shinboners. I think the first thing she said after being born was, "Where's my latte?", but then again, it was 3.26am and I was very tired and she might just have been crying.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Shin, well done. Congrats to all 3 of you.

Now, in answer to your earlier question:

The work do at AB was FUNTASTIC. The menu was St Jacques baked with leek, cured salmon (gravlax), roast quail. Mains were Tournedos Rossini, confit de canard and rack of lamb. Wines were Salitage unoaked Chardonnay and a selection of reds.

Worked out well. Great value, great food all made up for mediocre company. I spent most of my none eating time out the back sucking on fags and drinking from the bar stash and harassing the chef.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 5 weeks later...

A few older people enter Aux Batifolles, take a quick look at my table and their faces register a mixture of shock and disgust. Is it because....

a. The chopped up meat on my plate is raw.

b. We're holding hands, and shock horror.....we're an interracial couple

or

c. In my arms, our baby is sleeping.

If you answered c, then give yourself a pat on the back.

Still, it's an interesting issue. When are babies acceptable at restaurants? I'd have no trouble taking our daughter into a Chinese restaurant or any of the places down Victoria Street. But I'd never take her into the Grossi Florentino, Pearl, Vue de Monde or places similar to this. But where does Aux Batifolles sit? We had last minute baby sitter problems, but I felt that A.B. would present no problems. The staff didn't mind, it was just the other customers. Even then, our daughter was asleep (provided it was in our arms).

Anyway, onto the dinner. I went old school last night with an entree of steak tartare, duck confit and a grilled duck breast, and a creme brulee. I was very glowing with my review of my first visit to Aux Batifolles, but this time, the dinner was much more patchy. Maybe the kitchen had an off night, or maybe because we got their so early (6.30ish, first diners in), they hadn't really warmed up yet. Who knows? But it was a few little things that made the difference between brilliant food and acceptable food.

The steak tartare was superb. The meat was a touch below room temperature, it wasn't too finely minced, and it came already mixed with gherkins, chopped shallots, capers, and a couple of other condiments. An egg yolk sat on top, and when mixed, the texture and flavour was delightful. It was a very generous serve - another spoonful or two of eye fillet and it could have easily been a main course.

My main was a mixed bag. The grilled duck breast was overcooked by a few minutes, thus losing both the lovely red colour and losing a bit of tenderness. The skin wasn't at all crispy, and overall, I found it disappointing. However, the confit duck leg was excellent. The skin was crisp, the meat melted in the mouth, and the flavour was spot on. It came with a sauce flavoured with Iranian figs. The sauce had a great flavour (and the figs were oh-so-sweet), but it was probably a bit too strong for the duck.

Onto desserts and the creme brulee was a big disappointment. The custard wasn't properly set, and as a result, when the surface was caramalised, the whole thing sunk into the bowl. The flavour was fine, but the way it looked, and the texture were poor.

My partner had two specials. The first was the escargot, the same as what we had on our previous visit. The snails were braised in a mixture of herbs (very Chinese in flavour), and tonight, it was every bit as good as our first visit. Her main was a pork loin with a sort of mango (?)-coconut chutney. I didn't think that much of the chutney, the flavouring just seemed to have a bit too much bite to it, but the pork loin itself was excellent. It was very tasty, moist, and tender. She finished off with the profiteroles, which are better than most but still well behind those served at France Soir.

We had a generous side of French fries. They were very good, probably not quite as good as the ones PCL and I had at L'Oustal the other night.

The service was again, excellent. The food came out at a nice pace (we spent 2 hours there), with the only slip up being my dessert coming out well before my partner's.

I still think that Aux Batifolles is worth going to. The sheer enjoyment from my first visit is still strong in my memory. But last night showed that if one or two things slip, then the food can be less than what it could (or indeed, should) be.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Shinboners

Congratulations on the little one!

Appalling to see that the legacy of Lynchs lives on! :angry:

Did they make you uncomfortable? I hope they were moved to a table by the door, the toilets or the swinging doors down the back

We would certainly take our children regardless of age and a small child at what is at the end of the day - a bistro - should be a regular event and a celebration

"The purpose of a cookery book is one & unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind - Joseph Conrad"

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Congratulations on the little one!

Thank you.

One month old and she's already been to Pelligrini's twice and into her first French restaurant.

Did they make you uncomfortable?  I hope they were moved to a table by the door, the toilets or the swinging doors down the back

I was more bemused than anything else. Any other place and people look at babies with gushing faces. In a restaurant, and you feel the fear that they're worried that a crying baby will ruin their evening (and in the case of these people, they were part of a large table, so it was probably their big night out).

In the end, if our daughter cried a lot, we would have left early. We want to enjoy our evening, but not at the expense of others enjoying their night out. But to give out such a negative vibe when our baby was sleeping, well, I think that's being very narrow minded.

I can't speak highly enough of the two waiters who took care of us at Aux Batifolles. They made us feel absolutely welcome.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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A word first on the food...

They can be unpredictable, depending on Stephan's mood, but his sauces when he hits the mark are good. The guys at Paris Go gush on and on, and once, I heard someone at France Soir do the same.

I tend to get to AB's midweek, like Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday and avoid Friday and weekends, unless I've called ahead to um, give 'em a heads up.

And re: kids, the least you should worry about are other diners who wrinkle their noses. I agree that its barbaric (my words!) in a bistro to not accept children, and the fact that the staff fussed over you all, great. To the rest, stuff 'em.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't know what happened this week, but ended up at AB's like, twice. Last Friday night for a group dinner for 12, and today, a working lunch for 8.

All good. Temperatures were a little out there on Friday, but it was busy, but today's lunch, sensational. Spied a few suits in there for lunch too, so things are a changing perhaps. Had to go easy at lunch, given a long awaited reservation at Interlude tonight, so... yeah.

Be good to hear what Fou thought of AB.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Sorry,

Should have posted this earlier but was awed by Shin's review. Don't expect eloquence.

We stayed safe with the menu because my dining companion wasn't an adventurous eater and it was a farewell for her.

Started with fried calimari which was okay but not great. Kinda soggy. Maybe the oil wasn't hot enough? Continued with chicken with foie gras for her and duck confit for me. Really good sauces and texture. Portion size was very good and flavors were balanced. We cleaned our plates. Affogato and strawberries Melba were fine but what I would have loved instead was a palate lifting sorbet. Sadly none were to be had.

All in all we had a really good time, and I'll be going back with Hubby very soon.

fou

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I had a taste of the calamari last Thursday for lunch. Was good this time round. Was yours battered?? As in floured etc, not bashed up :raz:

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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My god the food sounds so '70's and boring.

Well, since I wasn't anywhere near old enough for bistro dining in the 70s, all that food is new and exciting for me right now.

And even if I was eating this food 30 years ago, if it is well executed and tastes good now, then there's no reason to ignore this as a dining option for today.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 5 months later...
They can be unpredictable, depending on Stephan's mood, but his sauces when he hits the mark are good. The guys at Paris Go gush on and on, and once, I heard someone at France Soir do the same.

Went to Aux Batifolles last night and Stephane was in fine form with his sauces.

We had a wonderful dinner, and I'll write up a report later.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 1 month later...

Another wonderful dinner at Aux Batifolles last night. I won't go into the details, but it was a very special night because baby Jade had her first taste of French food. She enjoyed her tastes of boeuf bourginon, mashed potatoes, and she had her first French fries. Needless to say, she rather enjoyed it.

In other news, an Aux Batifolles will be opening up in Richmond.

Edited by Shinboners (log)
Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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I meant to post a couple months back that my wife and I made our way over to AB for a (kid free) night out. I went for several reasons, not least of which was the excellent reco's on this board ... the excitement at learning of an honest to god bistro you can just have a great, casual dinner as opposed to the typical, special occasion rarefied "french fine dining" when all you want is a well cooked steak frites or coq au vin... and, I have to say, the whinging whining sydney quote above about "God it sounds so booooring." (nice pic by the way episyd, that's Britney, isn't it? You really must be an arbiter of all things unboring. Bloody sydney).

Anyway, nothing boring or mediocre about AB at all. We went as old school as we possibly could, in order to set a benchmark by which to gauge later visits: Steak frites, coq au vin, onion soup, ravioli w/crab in a beautiful bisque..."boring" stuff like that.

Goddam it was good. There's no point writing up how good each item was dish by dish, because we all know how good they can and should be, at their best - and all of these were at their best.

Add my voice to the growing chorus.

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All good news...

Shin... can you shed any more light on the Richmond situation?

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Shin... can you shed any more light on the Richmond situation?

I don't know the address yet, but I think it's due to open in the next week or two.

In terms of which location he'll be working at, Chef Stephane told me that he'll probably do the lunch service in Richmond, and the dinner service in North Fitzroy.

He has already got a new chef working in Fitzroy. I had dinner there a few weeks ago and said that Stephane was in fine form. However, the waiter told me that Stephane wasn't working that night and that it was the new chef. I think the new guy is a local boy too.

I'll post more news as I find out.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Go kick some Shins... information... the most valuable thing in the world....

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I... and, I have to say, the whinging whining sydney quote above about "God it sounds so booooring." (nice pic by the way episyd, that's Britney, isn't it? You really must be an arbiter of all things unboring. Bloody sydney).

:biggrin::biggrin:

Actually it's Angela lindvall, Vogue Fashion model of the year 2000, model for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Valentino etc.

Lot's of class.

Hope you liked your onion soup. :raz::raz:

Cheers

Paul

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I... and, I have to say, the whinging whining sydney quote above about "God it sounds so booooring." (nice pic by the way episyd, that's Britney, isn't it? You really must be an arbiter of all things unboring. Bloody sydney).

:biggrin::biggrin:

Actually it's Angela lindvall, Vogue Fashion model of the year 2000, model for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Valentino etc.

Lot's of class.

Hope you liked your onion soup. :raz::raz:

Cheers

Paul

touché!

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The one on the left is a the onion soup right? I mean, hearty, deliciou, warm. The one on the left, we're talking Bonox and hot water right? Poor man's consomme?... thin, veneer like, lacking in depth and substance?

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 1 month later...

More on Aux Batifolles in Richmond. It's now open and it's located at 258 Swan Street, Richmond. Apparently on opening night, they had no customers. But since then, they've done pretty well. Unlike the mother ship in North Fitzroy, they do breakfast and lunch on the weekend.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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