Inner-West Review: La Grande Bouffe

France may be a wonderful country but Australia is not the most Franco-philic of nations. Sure, there haven’t been any “freedom fries”-type incidents of the sort that in decades past marred Washington’s relations with the Quai D’Orsay.

Nor have the French ever blown up a hippy-ship in an Australian harbour (though if they did, the Prick’d probably buy ‘em a Pastis).

Still, when it comes to the French, Australians are a little bit suspicious and our connections are a little less secure than they are with other European nations. Parliamentary democracy comes from England, Italian is our most-spoken at-home second language and, hey, spag bol is practically our national dish.

But France? Well, don’t go singing a French song on a Melbourne bus if you know what’s good for you.

Image

La Grande Pork…

Thus even in the cultured inner-west of Sydney it’s a bit of a gamble giving a French restaurant a name like La Grande Bouffe. To the un-trained Australian ear the name sounds a little too much like a poorly-named North Shore knock shop, or a highlight of your grandfather’s telling of the tale of the time he liberated Paris – but don’t tell your grandmother!

Yet the name is also a great joke, because – according to a well-cultured workmate of the Prick – La Grande Bouffe really means something along the lines of “the big feed”, or, “strap on the feedbag”, making it sort of like an American roadside eating-barn by way of Google Translator and the French countryside.

While on one level a bit of a laugh – everything sounds classier in French, Darl’! – on another it is deadly serious. Tucked into what must have once been a corner shop down (ironically) the non-Paris end of Darling Street, Rozelle, and seating maybe three dozen people at a stretch, La Grande Bouffe is always convivially full as its little kitchen turns out plates of slightly-fancy, really comforting French bistro fare: There will be no siccing of the ACCC on La Grande Bouffe as it really is a grande bouffe. The Prick can safely report that when one sits down to a meal that includes charcuterie, a hare-and-duck terrine, a twice-baked chevre soufflé, veal shank and risotto, crème brûlée, a good half (maybe two-thirds) of a bottle of Bordeaux, and two or three Calvados, one doesn’t need much in the way of dinner.

Image

Et la grande veau…

And if that sounds like a spoiler for the rest of this review, it’s not. Because our little Sunday lunch party also tucked into fried lambs’ brains – crunchy, creamy little croquettes a brave Nick With a Fork enjoyed but which an offal-loving friend suggested were perhaps a bit too heavily crumbed. (Playing it safe, he had demolished a steak frites like a champion, and was pleased that his medium-rare order came medium-rare and not, as too often happens, medium).

Mrs Prick was disconsolate when a fish pie special topped with puff pastry was sold out, but was thrilled by a giant pot of salmon, cream, and mash which she pronounced “even better”.  The Little Pricks also enjoyed a slab of pork belly as big as  a paving brick and a perhaps-too-potatoey salmon cake, but who’s counting, because their dessert was an assiette of chocolate fondants, ice cream, and some lovely little pastry thing. Were there off-notes? Perhaps, if one went looking for more than what the place puts on offer, i.e., really nice, slightly homey but in a very good way, French bistro food – the sort of stuff one often wishes one could find in France, but which the Gallic diaspora seems to do better overseas. Lucky us.
La Grande Bouffe on Urbanspoon

About these ads
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Inner-West Review: La Grande Bouffe

  1. ar says:

    There is a French movie Le Grande Bouffe where four friends contrive to eat and indulge themselves to death over a long weekend. I think you’d have to describe it as a cooking movie, quite a bit of attention goes to the recipes…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s