H and I had dinner at the house formerly known as Restaurant Balzac, but now goes by the name of Montpellier Public House. It was yet another one of the multiple group deals I purchased towards the end of last year. It was about 80 dollars for the both of us, which included a bottle of bubbles and a three course dinner – with one caveat. The entrée and dessert was more of an assortment of their specialties, so really it was more like a multi course degustation than a three course dinner.
We ate there on a Friday, and despite not being in the city, it is bustling with activity. It has more of a relaxed feel than Balzac had, I guess you’d describe it as a gastro-pub. We got started with some lightly toasted bread with olives. H isn’t a big fan of olives, so I have a whole handful of olives to myself! They were tasty and crunchy – and super moreish.
The entrée came out pretty swiftly on a lovely wooden board. It’s true, everything tastes better on a wooden board (take Four in Hand). From memory, what came out: prawns with garlic aioli; snails with osso bucco (I think?); beetroot salad; pork and beans; pea and ham soup; and terrine with grilled bread. The aioli was just perfect, and the beetroot salad was light and refreshing. I’m not sure why I shy away from beetroot when cooking, but I love the taste and texture.
The snails were more a mind over matter thing for me. They had the texture of mussels, but without the sea taste. I absolutely loved the osso bucco at the bottom and wish there was more. I always have issues with peeling prawns (I hate doing them by hand and usually use my cutlery). These prawns were quite easy to peel, which albeit added to the experience.
H loved the pea and ham soup, which was pretty impressive considering he won’t eat fruit or vegetables (unless it is really good). It was just amazing and smooth. I’ve not had pea soup before, so don’t have anything to compare it to, but nevertheless. Pork and beans went down a treat. The crackling was absolute perfection – pure crisp and none of the chewy fat.
The after shot of the snails. I’m not sure if I’d be so willing to order these again. It was nice to try. And now I can say I’ve tried snails. But. I think that is all for me. I think it was quite like my oyster experience.
I opted for the sea mullet with confit fennel and white beans. It was indescribably good. The skin was light and crispy – it didn’t have that sea taste that often comes with crispy skin salmon. The fish was flaky, and the sauce with the beans was unbelievably buttery. Simply delicious. I had no regrets. It wasn’t the most photogenic dish of the night, but it was a definite winner for me.
H opted for a predictable choice, slow cooked belly with parsnip puree, wilted silver beet and pork jus. Again the sauce was a hands down winner. The chef has done an excellent job of perfecting the sauce to match the dish. The parsnip puree was incredibly smooth and flavoursome.
I don’t even know where to begin with dessert. The platter consisted of a panna cotta, mini Pavlova, coconut and burnt caramel semi freddo, and some lovely concoction of peaches and cream. Now I’m not normally a coconut type of girl, but I loved the semi freddo. The giant chunks of toasted coconut and burnt caramel set in ice cream. Loved it. The other three things on the plate were a close second. Hah.
Simple complexity. That is the best way I can describe the dishes from Montpellier Public House. It has definitely changed since its Balzac days. But definitely not for the worse. I’ll definitely be back, if not only for dessert.
MONTPELLIER PUBLIC HOUSE
141 Belmore Road
Randwick NSW 2031
02 9399 9660