November 22, 2015

As much as I love going to chef hatted restaurants it must be planned well in advance as it would firstly, make a dent in my bank account, and secondly, tend to be difficult to book on weekends. The latter being more applicable to restaurants in Sydney. So when DT and I had a mini weekend road trip to Canberra it was the perfect opportunity to sample one of the finest and with a $66 three-course lunch menu that sealed the deal for me. Courgette has been awarded one hat for the past 4 years so I was expecting great food.

Sophisticated and funky
I was thrown off by the decor but it really grew on me as it was a mish-mash of minimalist and grooviness. My favourite aspect was the funky apple green chairs which were comfortable to lounge in. So far, the most relaxed and casual atmosphere I've experienced for a fine dining establishment.

Three-course lunch menu
At $66 per person, it was $22 for each course which was incredibly affordable for the quality of food served.

Bread to start
The roll was so soft and and warm and layered with butter it was incredibly comforting to eat.

Light and creamy butter which melted instantly on contact with the warm bread provided.

Chicken liver parfait, brioche, quince onion jam, sultanas, winter flowers
Plating food is such an art that I truly admire and respect especially considering you would need to replicate it countless times. For my first course I had a beautifully presented liver parfait. I was puzzled at first as I thought the terms parfait and pate were interchangeable but apparently not although a pate becomes a parfait after it has been pushed through a sieve to remove all the lumpy bits. Compared to the thick texture of the pates found in my favourite pork banh mi the parfait was obviously a huge step ahead with its superior silky smooth and creamy consistency. Seriously, it just glided on effortlessly on the most buttery toasted slices of bread I had ever sank my teeth into. Saltiness from the chicken liver parfait and the sweetness from the quince onion jam countered each other to create the best spread.

Prawn cannelloni, sweet bell pepper, baby cos, smoked paprika, radish, tarragon oil
Admittedly, I was too engulfed with my first course to properly taste DT's pick so I can only provide an inaccurate brief recollection. The cannelloni filling was a prawn mince of sorts which was subtle in flavour. The most memorable feature of the dish was the cannelloni itself which I deduce attained its yellow colour through the use of turmeric powder. The filling could get away from having strong flavours due to the yellow spice's characteristically aromatic and poignant earthiness. DT wasn't particularly fond of the dish and my summation would be that it was an interesting dish with a unique medley of flavours but didn't exactly work for me. 

Dutton park confit duck leg, red cabbage, parsnip puree, roasted chestnuts, port and thyme glaze
Dutton Park ducks are grain-fed, free range Aylesbury-Peking ducks that are aged 9 to 10 weeks to produce a duck that is leaner and meatier. Although it was leaner, the process of confit enabled the flesh to become fall off the bone tender and hence easily shredded into appropriately sized mouthfuls.  A thick ring of parsnip puree complemented the meat perfectly with its light creaminess and mild saltiness. The highlight of the poultry was most predictably the skin which was fatty and melty and well seasoned. Overall, a solid dish but it didn't knock my socks off but I am partial to Peking roast duck which is tough to beat. 

Grange black angus fillet of beef, Dijon mash, French lentils, heirloom carrot, olive jam
The experimentation of flavours were bold and the tart kick from the Dijon mash added a new dimension of flavour that matched well with the protein. The beef fillet was cooked medium rare and while it was fairly tender and didn't require significant effort to chew the fact that the cut was quite thick prevented it from being more enjoyable. A gravy sauce would have been more suitable as opposed to the olive jam which didn't have the sustenance and rich flavour a gravy would have offered to pair with the beef. Courgette's plating is worth commending though as the lovely contrast of colours and the delicate flowers to add vibrancy were very aesthetically pleasing. DT did remark at the time that the arrangement of the sauces looked like the shape of a band-aid and I can't un-see that image.

Baked chocolate mousse, banana fritter, honeycomb, salted nutty ice cream
It was essentially three desserts in one so there were certainly no complaints about that. I don't know where to begin as every element was pretty scrumptious. I suppose I'll start with the baked chocolate mousse that was dense, decadent and rich in chocolatey goodness. It was served warm which allowed it to be even more divine with small spoonfuls of delicious crunchy nutty ice cream. A thin and crisp batter which I would liken to a cinnamon doughnut in terms of appearance and taste encapsulated a ripened and gooey banana. It was so good, even DT couldn't help himself and kept stealing parts of my dessert.

Hazelnut crusted white chocolate cheesecake, freeze dried liquorice, chocolate and caramel shards
Marvelled by large shards of chocolate and caramel upon a white chocolate cheesecake log, it was a delightful sight. However, in this case the dessert looked better than it tasted. The cheesecake had a wonderful texture but lacked in flavour because as far as white chocolate goes, I didn't detect much of it. I did like that it was rolled in toasted ground hazelnuts which added needed crunch against the soft and smooth texture of the cheesecake. The best part of the dessert was without a doubt the shards. Dark, white and milk chocolate, and sweet sweet caramel, I happily ate them all as DT had no desire to.

Courgette represented great value for money for being a chef hatted restaurant. It excelled in presentation but the dishes were hit or miss. The standout was the chicken liver parfait which was splendid and unlike anything I've ever had. I also really enjoyed the chocolate mousse with ice cream and banana fritter on the side. The confit duck and steak were above average. For a hatted restaurant I was expecting more of a wow factor but I wouldn't rule it out completely, it was still a lovely restaurant serving decent food with good service.

Courgette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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