Dinner at P’tite Ardoise Bistro, Highgate

Sorry – these photos were taken with my iPhone. I was sans-camera on Friday night!

Chicken and Mushroom Terrine with rosemary and poached quince

We visited P’tite Ardoise Bistro this week for dinner as an early birthday celebration for J. The restaurant is located in the block of shops on the corner of Beaufort and Brisbane Streets in Highgate, in the same space as the former Beaufort Street Steakhouse.

Though the steakhouse is no longer, this new bistro still caters to the carnivores out there, serving up a range of bistro classics including filet mignon and steak avec pomme sautees aux herbes (steak with sauteed herb potatoes).

The menu consists of daily specials and the classic menu, which also happens to include escargots (snails).

Confession time. I have a phobia of snails. Yes, I know. Weird and or irrational. I am so incredibly grossed out by them that I can’t even step on them (with my foot enclosed in a sturdy shoe). Due to this phobia, snails were out of the question for me. I’m sorry to admit this, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever come around to the idea (knowingly).

Luckily for me, there were a number of other delicious sounding options on the menus. We opted to share the Chicken and Mushroom Terrine (daily menu, $16.00), which was fragrant with fresh rosemary and served with sweet poached quince pieces, redcurrant (I think) jelly, and cornichons.

The chicken was enhanced by the rosemary and mushroom, both of which added a delicate but flavourful savouryness to the terrine. We both loved the tender pieces of quince, which had a lovely slightly gritty texture (like that of a pear), and a spiciness from the cinnamon used in the poaching liquid. We enjoyed the terrine with our fresh bread ($3.50 per person, your choice of fresh baguettes, multigrain rolls, olive bread or rye rolls).

Pork Trotter stuffed with Veal and Mushrooms with Celeriac Puree and Chaterelle Sauce

I was very excited to see pig trotters on the daily menu. I could hear my love of secondary cuts of meat calling. Once I saw the Pork Trotter Stuffed with Veal and Mushrooms ($35.00) on the menu, I knew what I had to have. The trotter had been poached until tender, boned, and finally stuffed with a flavourful forcemeat of veal and finely chopped mushrooms. It was tender, meaty and utterly delicious.

The creamy and sweet celeriac puree was a rich but delicious partner, and was a treat scooped up with the sticky chanterelle sauce. The fresh chanterelles were fantastic – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten them fresh before, and I was very glad to have the opportunity!

Casserole of the day – fresh seafood with saffron sauce

J decided to have the casserole of the day, which was seafood with saffron sauce. The casserole arrived in an individually-sized Le Creuset French oven. Opening the lid revealed a mix of fresh mussels, chunks of Barramundi, prawns, scallops. The seafood partnered with sweet soft onion slivers, saffron and the generous sprinkling of herbs (parsley and chervil, I think) created the most amazing scent.

Sampling a few bites made me instantly wish I had the physical capacity to eat more than one dinner.

All main meals at P’tite Ardoise also come with a mix of fresh seasonal vegetables, a welcome addition to the rich dishes we chose. On Friday this included cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and zucchini, which had been lightly blanched and tossed with a touch of butter.

The service at P’tite Ardoise is worthy of a mention at this point. Our friendly waitperson Sebastien must have noticed the telltale signs of food coma all over our faces. After he cleared our dishes, he offered to give us a few moments before bringing us the dessert menu.

 Creme Brulee

Bravely (or stupidly), we carried on. I couldn’t go past the Creme Brulee ($12.00) – one of my all time favourites. It came with a cute, buttery shortbread Eiffel Tower which was dredged with crunchy sugar crystals.

 I loved cracking my spoon through the caramelised sugar crust. The creme itself was subtly sweet, extremely rich and generously flecked with vanilla. It was magnificent!

Ile Flottante (‘floating island’) ($12.00)

The staff noticed the rustle of wrapping paper before our entree arrived, and Sebastien enquired which of us was celebrating our birthday. J’s floating island arrived with a song and ‘happy birthday’ written in ganache :)

Served cold, the fluffy light meringue sat over a pool of sweet vanilla flavoured custard. A scattering of crisply caramelised almond flakes over the top of the ‘island’ completed the dish. I especially enjoyed the savoury biscuitty flavour the almonds added to this.

We had a lovely night, enjoying the attentive and friendly service and the homey atmosphere of the surroundings. I particularly enjoyed that our table was in a room off to the side of the main dining room – where most of the groups of four or more diners were seated. It meant that it was possible to enjoy a conversation without struggling to hear over the crowd or the distraction of other diners.

To end the meal, we were presented with complimentary Carambar Caramels and asked to provide any feedback (if we wished) on the paper rings which previously held our napkins. I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing part of the meal, or if it’s just something the team are doing during the early stages of business, but I was really pleased to be given an opportunity to provide feedback – I think it’s great that the team at P’tite Ardoise are genuinely interested in hearing what customers have to say.

If this meal was anything to go by, I’m sure all the feedback will be as glowing as ours was! :)

 Note: P’tite Ardoise does not have a liquor licence at present. BYO welcome – corkage for our table was $5.00. We enjoyed a bottle of Thorn Clarke 2008 Shotfire Quartage with our meal. Yum.

P'tite Ardoise Bistro on Urbanspoon

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