Sunday, August 22, 2010

Great Mellie

While restaurant along South Terrace in Fremantle were bustling with diners feast upon pasta and pizza, the rest of Freo is as quiet as if the earth just stop spinning. If not for the great ratings on Urbanspoon, I wouldn't have thought of dining in this hole-in-the-wall French restaurant on High Street.

Hallway leading to the toilet, on the wall were newspaper and magazine clippings.
French born owner and chef Frederic Verschoore spent years training and working in a 3 Michelin-star restaurant in France, then spent more than 10 years abroad in Hong-Kong and Japan. After all these years of training and working in city that never sleeps, he finally settled in our humble port city and opened up his own restaurant.    

Dining hall 
Great Mellie is a 40 seated small restaurant, comfortable sized clothed table, old-fashioned chairs, paintings from artists and a cave-like 3D structured wall (that reminds me of Djimbaran in Myaree, maybe they were using the same contractor). I'm not too sure if the structure of the wall serves any purpose at all, but I'm damn sure it intimidates me. With chill-out music playing and scented oil burning at the back, I felt more like I was in a massage parlor in Bali.

Putting mixed ambient aside, let's talk more about the food. While Bouchon Bistro delivered some memorable dinner, I was kinda looking forward to savour food created from this highly-rated michelin-stared French trained chef.

Porcini Mushroom Soup
We all received Amuse Bouche to start - a little dish of porcini mushroom soup with balsamic reduction. It was thick, creamy and bursting with earthy mushroom flavour, but me and my friends felt that the chef was a little heavy handed on salt though I have high salt tolerance! That aside, the soup has good consistency and my only gripe was that the serving was too small and we don't get to mop up the soup with bread.

After a reasonable amount of waiting time, entree came out looking fantastic. However, the staff placed a wrong order for my entree despite him repeating and confirming our order when it was taken. I had to wait and looked at the faces of my friends enjoying their well executed entree. A basket of complimentary bread was served along with our entree, but according to their restaurant policy, they don't serve bread with butter. We all thought that French loves their butter!

Poached Duck Foie Gras - $32
Generous piece of Foie Gras sitting on raisins and walnut French toast accompanied by a light sweet and sour frothy sauce. I had a taste of it and it was sublime, the accompanied sauce was well paired with this rich and buttery foie gras. Though it wasn't a goose's foie gras, but this has a distinctive ducky flavour.

Single tier Black Truffle Pumpkin Lasagna - $24
This wasn't your traditional lasagna, albeit looking quite tiny but the flavour was pure gold. Hiding in the middle of 2 thinly rolled lasagna sheet was deliciously pureed butternut pumpkin and 3 big slices of local black truffle. The pasta sheet was silky smooth and was enhance with nut brown butter. This dish alone worth re-visit, but I think this is only available during truffle season. 

Tuna Tartare - $24
After gawking and munching on bread while waiting for my forgotten entree, here comes the Picasso looking piece of art. The tuna tartare was presented in a brick form, at the bottom was freshly diced avocado with olive oil and dill, on top of the fresh tartare was a crispy parmesan wafer. However, the tuna tartare was heavily flavoured with lime and sesame oil, sesame oil and more sesame oil (oops!), perhaps a tad too much sesame oil but more lime or more balsamic reduction please! 

Duckling Breast in High Spirit - $42
As for mains, out of 6 choices, we all eyed on the same thing, thus 2 choices of mains here. The roasted duck breast was served with foie gras-potato pancake, glazed baby carrots and foie gras jus. The breast was nicely cooked but skin could be crispier, I had a taste of it and it was only alright, nothing to rave about.

Lamb Loin in Shitake Crust - $40
Me and other friend chose this shitake crusted lamb loin served with rose potato, carrot puree and snow peas. At first we thought "rose" potato could be a typo on the menu, but it was actually meant to be a resemblance of rose flower. Shitake crusted lamb loin may sound exotic to me, but taste wise didn't really wow us, though the loin was cooked pink in the middle, just how I like it, but I've certainly have had better quality lamb. Carrot puree was smooth, rose potato was crispy but snow peas was a tad overcooked as I would prefer them to pop in my mouth. 

Chocolate Tart - $15
Very often we get amazing entree but was always let down by the mains. Desserts however ended with dignity. We've pre-ordered our desserts while placing order for our entree and mains, simply because we wanted to try their apple tart and that require 25 minutes preparation time. There were only 3 choices of desserts and we had them all. I had the chocolate tart, it was rich, sexy and smooth in texture, the pastry was soft like melt-in-the-mouth. Great accompaniments of vanilla bean ice-cream and strawberry coulis to cut down the richness. 

Apple Tart - $17
And this was the apple tart that needed 25mins of love and care from the chef, it was cooked À la Minute. Although it might not looked as colourful as other desserts, but the apples were symmetrically lay on the pastry. It was served with a quenelle of honey-milk ice cream on top of the apples. Because the apples were thinly sliced, so it was lacking a bit of bite here and it needed more sauce to be enjoyed properly. Was it worth 25mins of wait if you were to order after you finish your desserts? I'd say not really! 
Lavender Creme Brulee - $14
Well French claimed that they invented creme brulee and the Spanish said that they invented creme catalana, I said they were both great and everyone loves custard base desserts. I make a mean creme brulee too but this lavender creme brulee served at Great Mellie deserve a mention. It was smooth and creamy, best of all when I had a taste of it, the fragrant of lavender brought me to a fully bloom lavender farm. The serving of brulee was quite generous too!

While the chef delivered some quite decent and artsy dish, service sequence however needed to be polished. My order were taken wrongly resulting in long waiting for entree, also our orders being sent to the wrong person, it happened twice and there was an awkward moment when 3 staff surrounding our table figuring out who has got the right set of cutlery and who is having the right dish. It wasn't too major but I thought of mentioning it, hope they will pick up their game. Staff were friendly and chatty but a bit trying too hard.

Was it the best French restaurant in Perth according to Urbanspoon? You be the judge. I personally prefer the French food from Bouchon Bistro and they were cheaper too.

In conclusion, Great Mellie's food was quite expensive with small flavours, I left the place paying $80 for my share and my belly wasn't feeling contented. One point for Great Mellie though, they allow BYO and they only charge $5 per bottle.   

Highs: Pumpkin truffle lasagna
Lows: Apple Tart

Food Quality: 3.75 outta 5 lavender
Service: 3 outta 5 lavender
Ambience: 3 outta 5 lavender
Will I be back?: Having tried once, that's enough!

Opening Hours: 
Tuesday - Saturday: 12pm - 2:30pm; 6pm - 9:30pm

Great Mellie
37, High Street (Between Henry and Mouat St)
(08) 9433 4616
Great Mellie on Urbanspoon

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