It was the first day of the Brisbane Times Good Food Month so Mum and I thought we would celebrate the start of it by having the amazing deal at Lutèce Bistro. We had been wanting to dine at Lutèce for quite a while after hearing good reviews and leapt at their deal of 3 courses for just $45.
We made our way up the hills of Paddington to arrive at Lutèce located in Bardon. Inside, contemporary white tablecloths and silver cutlery met classic bistro chairs, floor tiles and patterned walls, but what really had our attention was the amazing view overlooking the rolling hills through the large glass windows.
The chef at Lutèce is Romain Bapst who has a wealth of experience training in France before relocating to Australia in 1990, where he working in many great restaurants, most notably at Il Centro for 13 years. He is also the president of the Bocuse D’or Australia as well as the Academie Culinaire de France Australia. Today, he appeared at the front of the house, serving customers with a big smile and French accent.
The 3-course deal encompassed one glass of wine and one choice out of four entrees, four mains and four desserts. Amusing to my mother, when we were ordering, the waiter asked me whether I would like a red or a white!
For my first course I decided on the Assiette de Charcuterie; terrine, duck & truffle pate, baby gherkins, rhubarb & onion chutney, beetroot puree, artichoke, brioche toast. All the elements were outstanding, particularly the combination of the rosy red beetroot puree balancing the richness of the smooth and creamy pate.
Mum opted for the Ora king salmon gravalax with Chardonnay “saumurade”, finger lime caviar & extra virgin olive oil, blinis. The plate arrived looking as pretty as a picture with little edible flowers and the in-trend finger lime caviar popping out from the plate. The mouthful or two that I had was so fresh and delicate with the salmon so very thinly sliced and the wine adding a touch of acidity needed to enhance the texture of the raw fish. Salmon and blinis are a match made in heaven and proved another winner in this dish.
My main was the free range lamb shoulder 18 hours braised “Cassoulet” with lemon puree & paimpol beans. The cassoulet was a perfect dish for a winter day with the meat easily falling apart in the rich sauce. The tart lemon puree, positioned on the side of the bowl, complemented the meat and rich sauce nicely but disappeared in less than three bites. It was very strong and only needed a tiny bit on each bite but wasn’t quite enough to last the whole dish. A little side bowl of the lemon puree would have been good so that the diner could add a tiny bit to each bite without running out. It was my first time eating paimpol beans and were quite similar to cannelloni beans in appearance and flavour although I found they had a firmer texture. The one thing I thought was missing was a piece of bread to mop up the delicious sauce, an extra you might expect at a French restaurant.
Mum decided on the famous Cea’s spanner crab lasagne, crustacean sauce. This sand crab lasagne has quite a large Brisbane following first appearing on the Il Centro menu as well as featuring on the now closed Gillian’s Garden Café menu. I suspected it would be a great sand crab lasagne due to Romain’s time at Il Centro. It was Mum’s second sandcrab lasagne, the first which she had at Il Centro many years ago. As the lasagne arrived at the table an intense shellfish scent wafted to me and I had to have a taste. It was very luxurious with the velvety pasta doused in creamy rich shellfish sauce proving to be once again, a great reinvention of the ubiquitous lasagne.
Dessert time came around and I was very content when my Tarte chocolat & gianduja truffle bar with salted caramel, white chocolate & passion fruit ice cream arrived. The bar was very decadent filled with both rich chocolate ganache and white chocolate. My only concern was the combination of the passionfruit ice-cream and the salted caramel. The ice cream went well with the bar itself and of course the salted caramel went well with the bar but all together, I thought all the flavours were not as complementary. Nevertheless I was still very happy with my decision.
Mum’s apple tart Alsace style with soft whipped cream & vanilla bean ice cream while well done on the bottom of the pastry, was enjoyable although she concluded that next time she would choose one of the other desserts on offer.
Mum and I both had a great mid-week lunch at Lutèce, taking in the vista while eating affordable and accessible French food. I don’t think there is an equivalent deal in Brisbane that could compare with the price and high quality of the food at Lutèce.