Review: Entrecôte, Melbourne

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.

Hawkers Pale Ale ($10), Cidre de Fouesnant ($15), Sidecar cocktail ($19.90), berry mocktail ($9)
Hawkers Pale Ale ($10), Cidre de Fouesnant ($15), Sidecar cocktail ($19.90), berry mocktail ($9)

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.

Steak Frites of grilled pasture fed Angus Porterhouse, frites, sauce Maison au beurre et aux herbes($44.90)
Steak Frites of grilled pasture fed Angus Porterhouse, frites, sauce Maison au beurre et aux herbes($44.90)

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.

Eye Fillet ($47.90)
Beef tenderloin with frites ($47.90)

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.

Soft leaves salad with radish, walnuts, Dijon vinaigrette
Soft leaves salad with radish, walnuts, Dijon vinaigrette

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.

Poisson Meunier - Pan roasted Dory, Spring green pea crush, lemon, pea shoots, beurre noisette ($39.90)
Poisson Meunier – Pan roasted Dory, Spring green pea crush, lemon, pea shoots, beurre noisette ($39.90)

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.

Confit de Canard - Conf it duck, du Puy lentils, lardons, haricot verts, Madeira jus ($39.90)
Confit de Canard – Confit duck, du Puy lentils, lardons, haricot verts, Madeira jus ($39.90)

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. 

Balvenie 12 year old double woodsmoked scotch whiskey ($15)
Balvenie 12 year old double wood-smoked scotch whiskey ($15)

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.

Crème brûlée ($16.90)
Crème brûlée ($16.90)

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.

Valrhona Manjari Mousse au Chocolate - chocolate mousse, macerated citrus, lemon balm, tuile biscuit ($17.90)
Valrhona Manjari Mousse au Chocolate – chocolate mousse, macerated citrus, lemon balm, tuile biscuit ($17.90)

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.

Profiteroles de chocolat - our vanilla bean ice cream, sauce au chocolat chaud, cocoa nibs & pearls ($17.90)
Profiteroles de chocolat – our vanilla bean ice cream, sauce au chocolat chaud, cocoa nibs & pearls ($17.90)

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.

Chanoy Honeymoon: Provence and Toulouse, France, October 2015

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

While we had originally planned to spend a few nights on the Cote D’Azur, we decided to skip that part of the trip as they had recently suffered through some heavy rainfall that had resulted in unprecedented flooding and loss of human life. Why put extra strain on local resources? Instead, we spent an extra night in Torino and then drove straight through to Provence, and the little farmhouse (complete with rabbits, chickens and dogs!) that we had rented just outside of Aix-en-Provence.

It’s quite a scenic drive, even along the toll roads. I particularly enjoyed driving over the Italian-French border near Embrun, where we stopped for a simple lunch at the bakery. It’s particularly nice taking your bakery purchases and moving onto one of the many beautiful outlook points in the area to eat your sandwich – whether it’s overlooking the mountains and valleys, or to a picnic area by the serene waters of Lac de Serre-Ponçon.

As we drove closer to our farmhouse, I decided that I wanted to stop by the regional area of Valensole, which is reputed to be the home of the famous lavender fields of Provence. Of course, what I probably should have done beforehand is research the growing time of lavender…as it was, I learned when we arrived that lavender only blooms between June and August, and so we were nearly two months too late to enjoy the views! The more you know…

Still, that couldn’t spoil our stay in Provence. Our farmhouse was adorable and cooking some simple rustic stews in our little kitchen made our stay feel particularly authentic. It was also well located, with Aix-en-Provence proving to be a good base to other scenic towns in the area. I did find it hard to get used to our bio-toilet though…let’s just say that I’m now fonder than ever of toilets with flushing water. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to simply covering up my ‘business’ with sawdust.

So, what did we do in the area? We spent some time in the town of Aix-en-Provence, which is particularly picturesque. One of the main highlights of the town is the pride they have in their most famous past resident – the artist Paul Cezanne. There’s a fantastic walking tour (both self-guided or with a guide) that you can do through the city centre that takes you past some of the key locations of his life. His preserved studio is also available for visits, slightly outside of town.

Given that I’m not personally a fan of his post-Impressionist style, I much preferred our visit to Nîmes. About two hours away from Aix-en-Provence, Nîmes actually offers some of the best-preserved Roman architecture in the world. The Nîmes Arena is actually in such great shape that they still use it to hold concerts and other performances…imagine attending a concert in an arena that dates back two thousand years! There are other Roman buildings and ruins in the city including the Maison Carree and the Tour Magne. It’s definitely worth a visit!

In fact, the whole Provence area is worth a much longer visit than we were able to spare – with all the distinct little towns in the area each with their own personalities and attractions, you could very easily spent three weeks here. We’ll definitely have to return for a longer trip next time.

Our next stop was in Toulouse for a brief sojourn before we ventured into Spain. Particularly noteworthy for the great meal we had at Mon Canard, the rest of the town centre isn’t too remarkable or different from other medium-sized French cities – there’s a river, some bridges, old churches, town squares, etc etc. I think the main highlight for K was our visit to the Airbus factory located in Toulouse – as a designer/engineer, being able to see the assembly line for the A380 plane was a real thrill. The Airbus museum included old Concorde planes and Super Guppy cargo planes which you could enter, and is worth the additional entry fee.

And with Toulouse, we said goodbye to France and set our sights on our next destination – Spain!

Review: Mon Canard, Toulouse France

Shockingly, we hadn’t eaten any duck in the first few weeks that we had been in France, and so K determined to find a restaurant specialising in cassoulet during our short stay in Toulouse. Did you know that cassoulet and other dishes involving duck are considered a regional speciality around Toulouse? This point was made quite clear when we walked past a restaurant called Mon Canard late on our first evening in the city, and decided to go back for lunch the next day.


Mon Canard is located just slightly out of the old town and shopping districts of Toulouse, near a couple of universities and larger office buildings. This has the benefit of making it relatively tourist-free, and very affordable for the local students and workers. Still, they have a menu in English so you won’t run the risk of ordering any less appetising parts of the duck and receiving a nasty shock when a duck gizzard salad (one of the items on the menu!) is placed in front of you.


We arrived at the restaurant early, almost as soon as it opened its doors at 12pm. Unsurprisingly we were the first ones to be seated and order – I’m not sure if I could get used to the later dining hours that we were exposed to in southern France and the Iberian peninsula!


The earlier dining time did mean that we got to see the waiter/owner in action as he started to prepare the restaurant for the lunch crowd. Most excitingly, this meant seeing him take delivery of a giant burlap bag of bread rolls from the local bakery, and start slicing them with a bread guillotine. Nothing better than super fresh bakery bread served directly to your table!

Mon Canard midday menu ($14.90 Euro) First course Homemade Tender Foie Gras (extra $1 Euro)
Mon Canard midday menu ($14.90 Euro)
First course Homemade Tender Foie Gras (extra $1 Euro)

K was set on just ordering one main dish (the cassoulet of course), but I decided to try the restaurant’s special two-course midday menu. My first course which I shared with K, was Homemade Tender Foie Gras. What I liked about this foie gras was its rich meatiness and gamey duck flavours, but I have to say that I wasn’t particularly keen on the texture. It was a lot smoother than the commercial foie gras that we tend to eat, and it lacked a certain rawness that I like in my foie gras. I do like that it was served with some palate-cleansing salad though!

Castelnaudary's cassoulet with veal's juice ($16.40 Euro)
Castelnaudary’s cassoulet with veal’s juice ($16.40 Euro)

Was K’s Cassoulet everything he dreamed about and more? It was incredibly rich and creamy, and being served in the ceramic dish meant that it stayed hot for a long time – important for a thick and stodgy dish like this. While the beans were cooked well, they managed to bridge that treacherous gap between firm and mushy. The sausage was very strongly porky and meaty, and the piece of duck meat was particularly tender. It was a very large serve – easily enough to serve two people (with an entree), so the fact that K managed to finish it all did mean that it put him into a food coma for the rest of the day!

Grilled Duck Confit
Grilled Duck Confit

My main dish was a Grilled Duck Confit – quite easily one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever eaten, right up there with the Peking Duck pancakes I had in Beijing. The duck meat was amazingly tender and sweet – and when I say that the meat just fell of the bone, I mean that in a literal sense. Yet, the skin was still deliciously crispy and savoury. The battered zucchini slices were less impressive…but let’s face it, the main attraction is the confit duck!

Home-made french fries at will
Home-made french fries at will

The Mon Canard midday menu also comes with Home-made French Fries on the side, described as ‘at will’. I didn’t put it to the test as I was already full enough as it was, but my understanding is that you can ask for more french fries completely free-of-charge if you’re able to finish the first serve. If I had space, you bet I would have asked for more of these fries as well – super crispy and tasty, made of a type of super-flavourful potato that I’m sure we just don’t get in Australia.

I don’t often order duck when I’m out at restaurants – it’s difficult for many chefs to get right as the meat can become dry quite easily. After our meal at Mon Canard, I can say with some confidence that this isn’t an issue that you would ever encounter here – instead what you’ll get is deliciously prepared traditional French duck dishes for a reasonable price. Well worth a visit if ever you go to Toulouse and feel like some local cassoulet or duck confit!

Mon Canard is located at 12 Boulevard Lascrosses in Toulouse, France.