After going to watch the footy, Hawks versus Lions, with Justin and Adrian, we then met up with Kakada for dinner at Aux Batifolles. Previously I had written about my chance encounter with Kakada on MSN. Well we have since chatted some more and I suggested that we should meet up for a meal, which is what we did. I brought along my grade 2 and 3 class photos to see if Kakada really was in my class.
Lets see how good you all are at picking people from their younger days. Firstly, here is what Kakada (right) and myself look like as of today.
Here is our grade 2 class photo from Cabramatta West Primary School in New South Wales. Click on the photo to go to Flickr for a larger version.
I showed Kakada my grade 3 photo and she was surprised to find that she was in my class then as well. She left shortly after the start of grade 3 to come to Melbourne. I left early grade 4 to come to Melbourne. Again, clikc the photo for a larger version. I'm hopeless and couldn't pick Kakada, I could hardly even pick myself. Unfortunately the class photos back then didn't have our names, so I can't remember any of my old friends names, but I do remember some of the faces.
Back to the restaurant and food. We got to the restaurant about half an hour early, around 5:30pm. Justin had made a perfect parallel park, but when we found the restaurant was a bit further down Nicholson Street, he moved his car. Only this time, it took him about 3 gos to go straight into a car park about 3 spaces wide head first. When the restaurant opened at six, we went in after another couple had gone in. The waiters in their French accents seated us. Kakada arrived a few minutes later, so we were given menus. While we started to look at the photos, the waiter kept coming to get our orders, so we decided we better order first. They looked like they were in a bit of a rush to get us out, as we had been informed that we must leave by 9pm. For most of the night, we were rushed quite quickly through our meal.
The restaurant interior looks great and I love the photos on the wall and the artwork and mirrors. The whole place has a really comfortable feel with the brick walls and good lighting.
For entrees, I said we had to try the snails, since I've never tried them before. We got that as well as the Tasting Platter. I didn't know what to expect of snails, but in the end they tasted much like a mixture of clams and oysters. The snails in garlic butter tasted nice and I had more than my fair share since Kakada and Adrian didn't eat many. I was put off by them at all as I have written in my post about weird foods, I will try anything.
The Tasting Platter was good, with a salad with mustard dressing, smoked salmon on crispy bread, prosciutto, liver terrine, dill gherkins, cheese, jam onions, salami and roasted vegetables. The tasting platter was good, but I liked the one at EQ Cafebar more.
For mains, I got the Rabbit with pasta. Unfortunately, the rabbit tasted more like stewed beef. It was not half as good as the rabbit that I had at Enoteca Vino Bar, which had the flavour of rabbit and the texture to match.
Kakada had the Steak with red wine sauce which was served with baked potato cubes (not shown). It looked and smelt great but I didn't try any so don't know how it tasted. Kakada did eat it all so it must have been good.
Justin got the Venison with polenta. Again, the venison tasted like, of all things, Chinese Char Siu (roast pork). We both agreed that it was probably the star anise that made it taste like char siu. The texture was good, but seeing as I don't like star anise or char siu, I didn't like it much.
Adrian had the Spatchcock with mash potato (dish at the back). The waiter did the hard sell on this special and kept insisting that we try it. Kakada, Justin and myself would not be swayed as we already knew what we wanted, but Adrian decided to switch from his other dish to this. It turned out the spatchcock was quite good, but did taste a lot like chicken to be honest. The Green Salad with walnuts and the same mustard sauce as the salad from the tasting platter helped to break up all our meaty dishes.
We got desserts to share. Justin chose the Upside Down Apple Pie. It was surpringly good, despite the appearances. There was a caramel type taste but you could still taste the apple. The honey helped to add another dimension to it.
My favourite dessert was the days special of Banana Pudding. Kakada had asked if there were any special desserts as the menu said there was. Despite the waiters inital assertion that there was none, she asked if he was sure. He went to check and came back to tell us there was the Banana Pudding tonight. The pudding didn't really taste like banana at all, but instead like toffee, which was equally good.
The most disappointing dessert definitely has to be the Profiteroles with chocolate sauce. The profiteroles were so stale and had gone all hard. They tasted worse than the on sale specials at Coles like Justin said. And what's worse, the vanilla ice cream was really bad too. It had huge chunks of ice in it. All the desserts were ruined by the awful vanilla ice cream. If you aren't going to make any effort with pairing up the desserts with something different and decide on using vanilla ice cream, at least use good vanilla ice cream. I know that even Peters Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream from the supermarket doesn't form ice chunks even after repeated outing away from the freezer.
The service was quite good, and the waiters joked with us about Justin's attempts at using his limited French training and pronouncing the menu items in French. However, this was balanced by the waiters trying to rush us at every course. Even at the end when we didn't ask for the bill, they just gave it to us. I understand their need to turn over the tables, but they really were rushing us a bit too much.
In contrast, this table of 6 behind us consisting of more elderly patrons did not get rushed at all. Four of them arrived first and sat at the table for a good 40 minutes talking before the final two arrived. They then talked and drank for another 20 minutes before even looking at the menu. Also, they were rather posh too, in a bad way. When they first got to their table, one lady was like "There's no room here at all, I think we should rearrange the furniture". Then when she got seated, she asked Justin to move in a bit. But when she sat down, she never bothered to push her chair in. Her husband did the exact same thing and squashed Adrian right into the table. We ended up moving our table back a bit. We didn't take it too seriously, but it just shows how inconsiderate the other table were, thinking they were too good for everyone. Even when we left and were trying to get out, they clearly saw Justin and Adrian trying to get out but didn't bother to move their chairs in for a while at all.
Overall Rating: 12/20, The food was ok and didn't match the fairly expensive prices. Ambience and service was good, but we were a bit too rushed for my liking.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.