Pulp Kitchen are offering a 5-course French degustation for $90 each Tuesday night this month as part of Good Food Month. Each course is based on a different region in France.
First out was the amuse bouche of escargots, parsley and garlic cream in a puff pastry. This was warm and yummy – the snails were not as rubbery as when I first had them overseas, and its natural flavour was (thankfully) masked by the parsley and garlic cream sauce. It wasn’t until I finished a mouthful that I realised the dish is quite salty. The puff pastry was delicious and I loved finishing this off.
The first course was duck liver mousse, poached grapes, walnut cream and toasted brioche (region: Gascony). I’m not a fan of liver, or offal in general, so I could only handle half of the mousse due to its strong flavour. The toasted brioche was a bit dry, but not too bad with all the other elements mixed on top. I have to say I didn’t enjoy this dish. But I did like the walnut cream – light and slightly sweet.
The second course was a salt cod brandade with pickled cucumbers, lemon puree and dill juice (region: Provence). The brandade was beautifully creamy and smooth but very strong in flavour. Again I could only manage to eat half of it. The sourness of the pickled cucumber went well with the saltiness of the cod. By this point, I was hoping this was the last of the mousse/cream-based dishes and wanted something a bit more substantial.
The third course was braised pork belly with house made pork sausage and sauerkraut (region: Alsace). I hardly ever order pork belly because I don’t like the fat. The pork crackling I always pick off or give to someone else (yes I’ve been told I’m weird) because it’s hard to chew and gets stuck in my teeth. I just don’t like it. This pork belly was pretty fatty so I didn’t enjoy it. There was nothing wrong with it and I’m sure other pork belly lovers out there would’ve been satisfied. I picked out the meat and left the fatty parts on the plate. I tried a bit of crackling before giving it away – judging by the crispness and bits stuck in my teeth, I’d say it was what a pork crackling should be. The sausage was average. My favourite part of the dish were the little blobs of sweet apple purée on the plate which softened the saltiness of the pork and sourness of the sauerkraut.
The fourth course was the traditional beef bourguignon on potato mash (region: Burgundy). I found the beef to be dry and slightly tough – not the melt in your mouth tender beef I was hoping for. I forgot to ask what the small crumbed pattie was, but that along with the yummy smooth mash, was my favourite part of the meal. The pattie was made up of a mix of beef, some spices and something else.
By this stage, I wasn’t particularly satisfied with any of the dishes. I was really hoping dessert would be the winner. Dessert was a cheesecake with strawberry cream and strawberry pate de fruits (region: Normandy). Cheesecake is something I’ve grown to like as I used to hate it when I was younger. I couldn’t understand how you could mix a savoury and a sweet together into a cake. I just don’t like my cake to taste like cheese. As long as it’s more sweet than savoury, I’ve learned to like it. This cheesecake took me back to what I thought in my younger years and was just cheese in cake form. It had the consistency of Brie cheese with a thin biscuit base. The cheese really stood out – it was so overpowering! My friend mentioned it tasted like it was straight out of a cow and I have to agree. I didn’t like this cheesecake at all. Too much cheese and not enough cake. In saying that, the strawberry cream was the best item of the night. It reminded me of the Beatles song ‘Strawberry fields forever’. Very light and fluffy. They must have blended fresh strawberries and perhaps some yogurt and cream. I was tempted to ask for a bowl of it. The strawberries on the plate were sweet and had been stewed in something syrupy. The meringue/macaron wafers and the soft strawberry jelly lollies gave this dish more texture. I think if the cheesecake was replaced with a strawberry shortcake type cheesecake, this would have been a superb dish.
Overall, I was disappointed with this dinner. There were certain elements in every course that I disliked. Two mousse-based dishes in a row was a bit too much and nearly sickening. Unsatisfied with the cheesecake which was just cheese. The best dish was probably the amuse bouche. This is disappointing because they do an awesome brunch of pulled pork in baked eggs and I had always wanted to go back to try their dinner.
I found the waiters were attentive and were luckily able to provide the degustation to my gluten-intolerant friends (without prior notice). One of my friends also had to leave early and asked if he could choose from the regular menu. Unfortunately, they only offer the degustation menu due to this special Good Food Month occasion. However, he was offered the first 3 courses for $50 which came out within the hour. I like how they were able to cater for my friend at such short notice.
Though unsatisfied with the French degustation, I would still like to try out their normal lunch/dinner menu. Pulp Kitchen have bistro lunch specials offering 2 courses for $33, or 3 courses for $43 valid Wednesdays to Sundays. They also do an early bird dinner – 2 courses for $41, or 3 courses for $51, if you leave by 7.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Follow me at http://www.facebook.com/foodpornjournal