Tuesday, June 25, 2013

PM24 (Closed)

M has a circle of friends who, instead of buying physical gifts for birthdays, buy vouchers to restaurants. I like his friends. That's how, instead of cooking at home on a quiet Tuesday night, we ended up at PM24, the well-rated bistro and rotisserie on Russell St with Chef Phillippe Mouchel at the helm.

Their specialty dish is the Rotisserie Chicken, and we went in determined that we would order a serve.  

Entering the restaurant, I was struck as to how intimate the restaurant was - not in the sense of dimly lit tables for romantic diners (although it was certainly part of the way there), but as to how small the entire space was and how little barrier there was between the food preparation and dining. It makes for a more complete experience in my eyes. 

We were quickly seated by our friendly waiter, and then quickly re-seated as we accidentally broke a wine glass. It doesn't happen very often thankfully, but the waiter was more than understanding and incredibly efficient in cleaning up the mess and resetting the table.  

After that little incident, we consulted the mouthwatering menu. The French and Japanese inspired menu is split into two options, an a la carte menu, or a tasting menu that has 5 courses chosen by Phillippe at $90 with an extra $50/$75 standard/premium wine match. After being a period of indecision, we eventually settled on the a la carte menu because we figured we could sample more dishes that way. 

It seemed only fitting to kick off the night with a glass of french champagne regardless (not that I remember exactly what was in the glass). 
An then some house-made bread to tide us over until our entrees arrived. Beautifully fragrant and a little bit crusty, it was good enough for M to ask for seconds. 

House-made Bread
Our first entree was a dish of 6 escargots.

Escargots 1/2 Dozen
This was my first time eating escargot and I was pleasantly surprised. As I kid, I thought the French ate typical garden snails, but now I realise they're a little more selective than that. The texture was reminiscent of periwinkles, which makes sense seeing as they're water snails. The garlic, parsley and tomato sauce all tied together with plenty of butter, was rich but still light enough to enhance the snails rather than smother them. The mouillettes (bread soldiers) were a little too crunchy to perfectly soaking up the excess juice, but it's probably not good manners to try and clean the plate at a restaurant. 

As a second course, I ordered the Ora King Salmon Gravlax.

Ora King Salmon Gravlax
I have a love affair with salmon at restaurants, and this tryst was just as satisfying. Generous pieces of fresh, raw salmon with  beetroot and horseradish cream, beautifully presented and even better tasting. If I could have this for breakfast everyday, I would without hesitation and as an added bonus, I'd better getting my Omega-3s without having to take another tablet. Win for the taste-buds and win for the body. 

Continuing the seafood theme, M ordered the Fish Soup.

Fish Soup
We couldn't figure out exactly what was in the smooth fish soup, but there were definitely fish heads, prawns and possibly some crab meat in there as well. The fish smell is strong, and the sauce on the side is provided to help cut through the taste which can get overpowering. It's definitely a comforting bowl of soup, perfect on a cold night. 

I said we had to order the rotisserie chicken, so that's what I had for my mains.

Rotisserie Chicken 
Perfect. It's well deserving of its reputation. Just-off the spit and glazed in its own juices, accompanied by tender Lèchefrite sautĂ©ed potatoes, onions and sizable pieces of garlic, it's country comfort epitomised on a plate. I love my chicken and can go through half a roast chicken from the supermarket fairly easily, but this could convince me to exchange quality for quantity. Sure I'd be eating less chicken, but this is the best chicken dish I've come across. 

There was a little bit of envy when I glanced over at M's dish, but only a little bit. 

Rotisserie Rack of Lamb
He'd also opted for a rotisserie dish: a rack of lamb with market vegetables and navarin jus, a French-style lamb sauce. Cooked until it had just the faintest hint of pink remaining, the knife cut through the meat like it was butter. Australia really does have amazing lamb (I'm in the US at the moment and the lamb just isn't as good here). If I had to choose one thing that PM24 does well in its dishes, it's how it chooses an ingredient and really makes it the star. No fussing about with a hundred and one ingredients, just honest, fresh and great quality anchors for each recipe. 

To finish things off, we had the tart of the day, accompanied by the ice-cream of the day. 

Apple Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream
By pure luck, it happened to be my second favourite type of pie (berry pie takes pole position), and favourite type of ice-cream. There were satisfyingly sizeable chunks of apple held in a buttery, flaky base. The super creamy ice-cream was strongly vanilla flavoured and was the perfect accompaniment. 

PM24 may have become one of my favourite restaurants from this single experience. Simple food that really packs a impressive culinary punch. To seal the deal, the open kitchen adds a home-cooking feel to the restaurant and the efficient and friendly service is second to none. Open for lunch and dinner every day, I'm returning, and soon. 

24 Russell St, Melbourne
Mon-Sun 12-3pm, 6pm-late

PM24 on Urbanspoon