I had a good ol’ chat with my boss the other day who was looking for a place to take his wife for her birthday. So I started spieling off all of my faves and he asked about Petite Mort. I haven’t been was my reply, but I did follow up that it had a very good reputation and received a more than decent review from Gail Williams – critic with the Sunday Times. As well as this I had sampled some of Petite Mort’ Chef Todd Stuarts work at the Largesse dinner and it was delightful!
After all this talk about the place I decided that I really wanted to go and see if it was living up to all the hype. Thankfully it was easy enough to get a booking for Saturday and it was on! As I tend to do with most places before I visit I jumped on their website and began perusing the menu. Basically the way their menu works is that it is sort of like a design your own degustation. They are all small plate meals, but unlike tapas are not designed to be shared. It was an interesting concept. I noticed also that they had a couple of set menus available and I was particularly taken with the sound of menu one. They didn’t have the price shown on the website, so I shot them an email asking for that info and also whether they were BYO. Both set menus are $90 and they have BYO on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $10 corkage a bottle was the swift reply I received.
We arrived just before 7 on the Saturday night and were quickly shown to our waiting table that was right near the window, which I really liked. Very unassuming from the front, it was actually slightly bigger than I expected, with one main long dining area then another off to the other side. There were also a few tables set up in the courtyard that we’d walked through when we got there, but it was a bit blowy so I was happy to be indoors. Décor wise – I really liked it. Beautiful polished floor boards (which ok I was worried about slip sliding away on, but managed to gracefully walk around when required), exposed brick on one wall and then a few interesting and bright coloured pictures on the walls.
I’d read that the wine list was presented on an ipad, but we were given a normal paper version. That was fine – we ordered a 3 Drops Riesling, one of my favourites – nice and crisp :) Looking through the food menu I couldn’t seem to find the set menu. But you need only ask and yes it was available. We locked in Set Menu One and I couldn’t wait!
First off we were bought out a dainty Brioche. Delicious and a little sweet, it was a battle for the butter as we polished off the little dish that was given to us.
Not too long after the first official course arrived – Cauliflower soup, blue cheese cannelloni. . A white soup bowl with a cigar of pastry stood in the centre, filled with a blue cheese foam, and topped with a microherb for colour. Once on the table our friendly waitress poured the cauliflower soup from a little jug. I thought this was a nice touch – quite the dramatic flourish. I quite like cauliflower soup, it has a wonderful creaminess to it. This soup was probably just a touch too salty. When mixed with some of the blue cheese it seemed to balance it out slightly and by the end of the dish I didn’t really notice, but just initial impressions was that there was a smidge too much of the salty stuff.
Following on was a course with more cheese – Goats cheese pithivier, mushroom and asparagus ragoult. I was loving how much cheese there was in this set menu. I had googled before arriving what a pithivier was. Basically like a pastry biscuit with something inside. Another tasty and beautifully presented course. The bright crunchy vegetables, contrasting nicely with the melt in your mouth pastry and the decadently creamy goats cheese. Delightful!
A surprise course arrived next – creatively presented in an egg shell. A tribute to Dr Seuss in part – a little bit green eggs and ham. Filling the egg was a petite mouthful of pea and ham soup. I had some concerns about slicing my mouth open on the egg shell, but hey I like to live dangerously and I also like soup, so I boldly indulged in the mouthful and was glad I did – another taste sensation.
We ventured back to the set menu one course next with the Duck breast, Apple Ravioli, Blood Orange, Liquorice. I have a lot of time for duck. Or should I say I have a lot of time for duck cooked well. And this definitely was. Perfectly pink, it was fantastic, especially with the sweetness from the apple ravioli. Fruit pasta – what a revelation! The blood orange sauce further enhanced the sweetness of this experience and you can’t go wrong with liquorice powder.
There was perhaps some slight confusion at this point when we were presented with our palate cleansers ahead of schedule. Not complaining – they were blood orange sorbet and the citrus burst was entirely refreshing. Did we need to cleanse our palates ahead of beef though? Hard to say
The Cape Grim Beef Sirloin, Potato Pave, Onions, Egg was essentially the mains and size wise it was a step up from the preceding courses. It was so nice! Tender beef and the caramelised onions – yummo! The little quail egg too was just perfectly cooked and the combination of all these flavours worked a complete treat.
Apparently there had been a mix up because we were then bought another palate cleanser. This was delivered by one of the chefs, always nice, who then asked us if it would be ok if he changed the order and we had our dessert ahead of the cheeses. Oh ok if we must we replied. Tehehe not really we said that was a-ok – I always like to end with cheese. It’s a bit more leisurely that way.
The second surprise course for the evening was a pre-dessert. Served in a delicate glass the amaretto chocolate milk was entirely divine. Honestly….. if it came in a 2L bottle down at Coles I would corner the market.
Dessert had been changed slightly from our menu…. There was no longer the whisky soup, but it still had the Burnt Caramel Bavarois, Aero pieces and something GG described as a honey smudge. And what a smudge it was! It really helped to combine each of the delicious items on the plate together. Plus it looked amazing! I’m a big fan of my sweet stuff so was great to round out the meal on a high.
But having said that we still had cheese to go! Three types were presented with a generous serve of crackers and little cubes of quince paste. I can’t remember the specific names of each but there was a blue cheese, a cheddar and then a brie, which also had quite a blue taste to it. While I sampled each individually, it also turned out that a little of each smushed on one cracker was more than a little delightful.
We were both feeling a little more than comfortable after all this food ,but luckily there was a little room left and so we savoured the pretty Petit Fours. The passionfruit macaron was my favourite, the curd filling was such an intense burst of tropical flavour, but having said that the cinnamon of the madeline was also very nice and hard to go wrong with a chocolate truffle.
What a night it had been! $90 seemed to be incredible value for the amount of food and also its incredible high quality. Service was been polished and the overall ambiance of the place had been just lovely. It ticked all the boxes and in all was just a superb experience. I would not hesitate to go back and if you haven’t been there before, then well worth putting it on your list!
Nice job Petite Mort…. I can totally understand the name now