I recently turned thirty. Despite our misogynist society regularly reminding women over the age of 21 that they are no longer relevant, I decided that thirty years on this planet was worthy of celebration. After all, I spent my first decade trying to find my identity as an Asian-Australian, the second decade trying to find my identity as a woman, and the last decade trying to find my identity as an Asian-Australian woman.
Now I have a better sense of self and self-worth, and have lost all patience in dealing with irrelevant dudebros and others who try to tear you down. The next thirty years should be the prime years of my life, when I finally get to let go of any lingering insecurities and just be myself. Now that is worthy of celebration.
I started my birthday celebrations in the week before the day itself, with a family dinner at Entrecôte. It’s the type of restaurant that knows what it does well and doesn’t overstep the mark, offering only a handful of main meals and appetisers but an enormous wine and spirits list. It’s a classic French restaurant in that regard, especially as the signature dish they serve up to almost every diner in the restaurant is the Steak Frites.
Unfortunately none of my family are particularly prolific wine drinkers, with my brother preferring to order a cider (Cidre de Fouesnant), my dad preferring cocktails (Sidecar cocktail), K opting for a beet (Hawkers Pale Ale), and myself opting for my customary Mocktail (mixed to order – this was berry-based and very spritzy). K’s Francophile father gave the cider a nod of approval when he saw photos of the meal, and dad was particularly fond of the Sidecar which he described as potent.
Bread (baguette, naturally) is served with deliciously soft and creamy French Lescure butter. Note ‘soft’ – quite often I find that these little pats of butter are still quite cold and firm when they arrive at the table with your breadbasket, but these little serves of butter had been rested at room temperature and were beautifully soft and spreadable. Little touches like that really mark out attention to detail.
This is it – the signature dish of Steak Frites! A large steak of angus porterhouse beef sliced and served with a butter and herb sauce. Salad and unlimited fries come with the dish, but more on that later. The waiter was horrified when I tentatively asked for the steak to be cooked well-done. After picking his jaw up off the floor, he suggested medium-well as a compromise. It was probably a good suggestion because to be honest, I found some of the end pieces of the steak to be a tad overcooked and dry, saved only by the delicious herb sauce.
Dad’s Beef Tenderloin with Frites and Salad was a far superior cut of meat. Seared to smokey charcoal perfection, the tenderloin was cooked to a proper medium-well, retaining a juicy and tender centre that was highlighted by the smokey exterior. While it came with sauce on the side, Dad actually opted to eat the steak sans sauce as it was juicy enough as is.
All steaks come served with a Soft Leaves Salad – a regular run-of-the-mill leafy salad blend highlighted and improved with wafer-thin slices of radish, crushed walnuts, and a light dressing of Dijon vinaigrette. It’s the addition of textures to this salad though the crunchy nuts and radish that really lifts the salad and turns a simple dish into something spectacular.
As mentioned earlier…Unlimited Fries with all steaks! Fair word of warning though. As much as you would probably like to order ten baskets of fries (and you will, they’re some of the best crunchy and salty fries I’ve ever tasted), you will find yourself so full from the steak that you’ll probably only be able to fit in one extra serve before saving space for dessert.
While K wanted very much to have a steak as well, he had to settle for the Poisson Meunier as he’s recently had another bout of gout and needs to avoid red meat. Still, it’s hardly called ‘settling’ when the fish is as beautiful pan roasted as this piece of dory, with beautifully succulent flesh and a caramelised crispy skin.
My brother opted for another French classic – the Confit de Canard with du Puy lentils from the south-west of France. I particularly liked the presentation of the fresh and snappy green beans, wrapped in a strip of tasty bacon.
Dad and K both decided to top off their meal by ordering a Whiskey on the Rocks each to sip with dessert. The sommelier suggested the Balvenie 12 year old double wood-smoked whiskey, which K reported as being slightly less smokey than most standard whiskeys, with a particularly nice finish.
For dessert, K and my brother both opted for a crème brûlée, an absolutely gigantic serve of creamy custard creme with a snappy caramel top. It was so large that K didn’t even end up finishing his serve, as it really was just too much custard creme all in one go. There’s something to be said for bite-sized desserts – three to four spoonfuls of any dessert is more than enough to satisfy any cravings you may have.
I opted for the Chocolate Mousse, starring ridiculously rich Valrhona chocolate highlighted by a range of citrus fruits on the plate including oranges, mandarins and blood oranges. Chocolate and orange, there’s really no beating that combination.
Dad’s chosen dessert of the Chocolate Profiteroles was really the highlight of all the desserts. The light and fluffy choux pastry was filled with the creamiest vanilla bean ice-cream before being topped with rich and dark chocolate sauce. Remarkably, it actually wasn’t a particularly sweet dessert, which meant that you could very happily eat the whole thing without feeling too ill by the end of it. A real winner.
Using my Entertainment Book voucher, this meal for four people ended up costing around $250 – not too bad when you consider it includes drinks, dessert and a main meal. Still, Entrecôte will have to remain a ‘special occasion’ restaurant for celebrating birthdays and other dates of note. It may be a while before we return again for that mouth-watering beef tenderloin.
Entrecôte City is located at 6 Alfred Place, Melbourne.