Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bistro Thierry


Bistro Thierry
511 Malvern Rd
Toorak, VIC 3142
Ph: (03) 9824-0888
Website

As I mentioned in my last post, it was my birthday on Monday, and we celebrated with dinner at Bistro Thierry.  I'd never been before, but had driven past it dozens of times, and it came very highly recommended by a foodie ex-coworker of mine.  It's a small restaurant on a posh stretch of Malvern Road, and seems to be incredibly popular - despite it being a Monday night, it was packed!  The decor is OTT stereotypical "Parisian", in that romanticised, exaggerated way that us non-Parisians imagine Paris to be - I felt a bit like I was in an episode of 'Allo 'Allo.

"I will say this only once..."

The meal, and the evening in general, were actually very, very good, so I feel I may as well list the (two) negative aspects up front and get them out of the way:

First thing - soft drinks were ridiculously overpriced.  We ordered a $4 coke, which I felt was standard restaurant pricing... until it came out and I saw it was a tiny bottle, less than 200ml.  Almost half the size of a normal restaurant serve of soft drink!  Not cool!

Second thing - all the tables in the restaurant were placed very close together, which did go towards creating a convivial atmosphere, but wasn't particularly comfortable.  In fact, it was downright cramped! We had waiters bump into us a couple of times while we were trying to enjoy our meal, and also had to lean out of the way when the table next to us was being served, without so much as an "excuse me" from the waiters.  It also meant the restaurant was very noisy, so it was quite hard to have a conversation without yelling.  If, like me, you are bothered by noise in a restaurant, I'd ordinarily recommend visiting on a quieter night, but as I mentioned above, the place was full even on a Monday night!  I don't think they have "quiet" nights.  So, just give in and enjoy yourself!

Now, the food.  Good, crusty pieces of baguette were provided to nibble on.
Bread

My dad and I shared a half-bottle of wine.  I love it when half-bottles are available at restaurants - a whole bottle shared between two always seems quite excessive to me.
Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 - $50 for 375ml

Sandra and I shared a French onion soup as an entree.  I thought we'd get one bowl and two spoons, but they actually generously split the soup between two bowls, and gave each of us a Gruyère crouton, with no extra charge.  (My mum ordered a bowl for herself, and unlike my bowl, below, hers was filled closer to the top).
Soupe à l’oignon - French onion soup with gruyère crouton - $14.50 for a full serve
It was quite salty, but not too rich - a nice way to start the meal.

My dad couldn't go past the escargots, which came out attractively presented in a cute metal pan.  Although he enjoyed them, he did mention that they were a bit too buttery and rich, and thinks Philippe Mouchel's escargots are still the best.
Escargots à la Bourguignonne - Snails baked in their shells with garlic and parsley butter - $23.00

Mum's main of roast chicken was impressive, the white asparagus and micro herbs lifting what would otherwise have been a uniformly brown dish.
Poulet jaune rôti - Roast chicken with white asparagus - $39.50 
Three of us ordered the steak frites, and I'm ecstatic to say that they all came out perfectly!  Sandra's was "very well done", Dad's was "rare", and mine had to be: "very, very rare please!".

Le Steak-Frites 250gm - Eye fillet steak served with fries and your choice of sauce - Pepper, Béarnaise or Red wine and shallot - $39.50
My "very, very rare" steak was done exactly the way I like it, with a charred, almost crispy exterior encasing the soft, gorgeous rare meat within.  I chose the classic Béarnaise sauce, which I love, but only added in tiny amounts.  Having made it myself a few times, I know just how much butter goes into it!

Below I have a picture of the contrast between well done and very rare - both perfectly done.

Rare vs well done
The past couple of years I've struggled to find a restaurant that will cook a steak how it's ordered and had almost given up hope.  (Apart from a pleasant surprise at Squire's Loft in the Docklands last year, to be perfectly honest!)

The first time I visited Bistro Guillaume in Crown in 2008 (back when it was where Spice Temple is now), they cooked my steak perfectly, but when we visited again after it had moved and re-opened in its current, more casual incarnation, they cooked my steak medium despite my being clear that I wanted it very rare.  (In fact, that visit to the new Bistro Guillaume was so underwhelming that I didn't even bother to blog about it).

Last year, that stalwart of Australian fine dining, The Lake House, undercooked Sandra's "very well done" steak, despite the fact that our waitress suggested a particular steak dish that would suit that type of cooking.  Even when we sent it back it still came out medium-rare.  Why... why!

So with all of that in mind, I was thrilled when our steaks at Bistro Thierry all came out perfectly without any fuss.  (I know, #firstworldproblems!)

More steak pictures!
Well-done steak
Well-done steaks make me cry inside, but Sandra likes them, and this one was cooked just as she requested - fantastic.

Mushroom sauce
The mushroom sauce that accompanied Sandra's steak was a world away from the bland, creamy button-mushroom sauces served in lesser steakhouses.  With a mixture of exotic mushrooms (including the enoki that you see above), it was a clear, intensely savoury sauce, almost tasting like a soy sauce.  I would say that it tasted "umami", but I loathe the overuse of that word!

To go with those big old steaks, we ordered some green beans.  Again, these were cooked the way I like them - softer than al dente - with lots of tasty garlic butter.
Haricots verts sautés - Sauteed beans with garlic and toasted almonds - $9.50
Ordinarily I would have skipped dessert, but it was my birthday after all!  We ordered a crème brûlée and a serve of profiteroles to share between the four of us.
Crème Brûlée - Vanilla scented custard with caramelised sugar - $14.50

Profiteroles, glace Vanille, sauce chocolat - Profiteroles served with vanilla bean ice cream and milk chocolate sauce - $15.00


What can I say about the desserts?  Just that they were classics, executed very well.  This appears to be the overriding theme of the restaurant.  Despite the minor quibbles that I mentioned, overall we loved Bistro Thierry and had a great evening there.  Any restaurant that can do steaks right gets a big tick in my book!  I look forward to going back one day.

Bistro Thierry on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Daniel said...

It has been a long time since I've been to Bistro Thierry, but the photos of those steaks and the profiteroles are tempting me back.

How long did your dinner take? Myself and a few friends have found that you can be in and out of the restaurant within an hour. Which is a shame when you want to take your time.

Sarah said...

Hi Dan,

Omg the steaks were AMAZING! Although I'm sure you picked that up from my post, lol!

We got in at 7 and finished around 9:15, which was good because we got back in time for Embarrassing Bodies on TV, hehe. But the important thing is that we didn't feel rushed. :)

xox Sarah

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

The steaks look great! Well done steaks make me cry too (well you know what I mean :P) and I find sometimes that they err on the side of too cooked as I like it medium rare.

Nic@diningwithastud said...

I did shed a little tear for that well done steak. My mum is the same with her meat. Oh well, each to their own ;)