Friday, December 13, 2013

La Cassolette, by invitation, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

Roule Galette is one of my top 5 foodie places in Melbourne CBD.  I love the savoury buckwheat crepes (big thumbs up for coeliacs), the irresistible sweet crepes, the cute lane way set and the French speaking staff that gives the place authenticity (and credibility) that's totally lacking from its crepe competitors around town.

A while ago, I heard that Roule Galette had set up an outpost in near the Melbourne Aquarium.  However, in recent weeks, it has re-invented itself into La Cassolette, a French bistro eatery.  Michel Dubois, who owns both places, invited us to try out La Cassolette.  


Situated along the Yarra river and Batman Park, La Cassolette is an idyllic spot with its leafy green trees, grassy bankside, the big aviary and gentle breeze.  You feel like you've escaped the city, but you're actually quite close to it - Flinders St and Southern Cross stations are in walking distance, and right opposite is Crown Casino.

La Cassolette is a small bistro, with cute pots of herbs on the outside.  It makes the most of the space by having seating inside and outside (which would be lovely when the weather gets hot).  Inside, it's neat and simply decorated.


True to its casual bistro heritage, there is a short menu featuring French classics using seasonal ingredients.  A lovely touch, is the complementary bowl of marinated green and black olives.  Plump and juicy, coated with a savoury cooked tomato and onion salsa.


For drinks, I went with a bottle of Orangina.  For those who haven't come across this drink before, it's quite a classic drink for those who grew up with a French or Mauritian background/upbringing.  I know this because Mr P goes to great lengths to find Orangina (which isn't that readily available in Australia) and he gets excited like a young boy when he finally gets his hand on some.  It's an orange flavoured (with the important orange pulp), slightly carbonated drink.


For starters, the Lawyer and I shared the crab salad w quinoa taboule.  A fairly substantial starter, this was.  A square slice of perfectly cooked quinoa with its nubbly, nibbly, nuttiness.  On top was fresh pieces of sweet, crab which was mixed with a light mayo, which gave it a nice contrast to the quinoa.  We also got some French bread to go with it.


For mains, we went to Michel's suggestion to try one of the two flambe dishes - scallops or scampi.  We chose the scallops which are brought to your table for the fiery finishing touches.    


Whoosh!

Michel came over with a pan of gorgeous golden brown seared scallops and flambeed the scallops w Cognac, and garnished with lots of finely chopped parsley.


The scallops are plated up with rustically mashed potatoes, Parmesan.  The scallops are locally sourced and were fresh and very plump.  Simple and tasty.


The scallops came with a side salad.  Fresh, crisp with a light dressing.  I particularly liked the attention to detail with the de-seeded tomatoes.


We also got the fish stew with aioli sauce.  This was pleasantly different to what I was expecting.  I was expecting a tomato-based dish - i.e., bouillabaisse - with the aioli served on the side.  However, it was a cute pot of white fish fillets with the sauce based on aioli - it was almost like a classic white sauce.  What I really liked about this dish was the vegetables.  When I hear "stew", I think of slow-cooked, heavy root veggies.  However, this  was a lighter, summery spin on the veggies - jullienned carrots, spring onions and I think it was celeriac that were lightly blanched.  Crunchy and still juicy, the veggies made the dish much more suited for enjoying in the warmer weather.


I was quite full from the meal, but I can always make room to try dessert - especially when asked :)  We went with Michel's suggestion to try the pannacotta, ever so lightly scented with bananas, and served with a red fruit sauce.  Despite being told it was made with bananas, the flavour is quite subtle - almost tropical.  The texture is a bit firmer than I prefer, as I like a bit of wobble.  However, it was still quite smooth in texture.

Verdict
Food – 7.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 8*
Price – 7*

* Scores are notional as we were guests of La Cassolette.

Overall
A cute French bistro along the banks of the Yarra, serving French food with a homely twist (lamb casserole Navarin style) and also a few European dishes (e.g., Spanish scrambled eggs w ratatouille).  The food is fresh and above average quality, which is reflected in the price - it's on the upper end of mid-range prices.  Service is warm, friendly and prompt. 

On warmer days, I can imagine it being wonderful sitting outside drinker cider and daintily nibbling on a starter or two, or a Nicoise salad.  The outdoor seating provides for a lovely alternative for a family lunch (with the young 'uns running around on the grass and among the trees) or a great post-work drinks.

I really like the cute pots of herbs on the outside.  I would like to see a bit more decorations on the inside - perhaps some artwork or etchings on the mirrored wall to continue the bistro vibe.

Address
La Cassolette
26 Rebecca Walk 
Melbourne 3000 
Telephone: 9614 3606

La Cassolette on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

good place to dine!
good informatin!!

obelix glutt said...

They have Orangina! And the food looks pretty good too. This is going on my ever growing list of places to go

Bureaucrat said...

Thank you Anonymous

Bureaucrat said...

Yes, they have Orangina! It's a good spot to have a meal before/after going to the Melb Aquarium.

Sally Li said...

funny I saw you the day I went. I was going to ask you about your panna cotta as it looked so good. Do you want to go to Teppankai with me, or do you have another review for that?
http://newintstudents.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/la-cassolette.html

Bureaucrat said...

Thanks, Sally, but I won't be coming to Teppankai.

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