Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blancmange, Petersham - 2 May 2013

As soon as I heard that Pertersham favourite Blancmange Bouchon was closing after 8 years, I knew I had to make a reservation for one final hurrah. I wanted to try the Saturday 5-course degustation menu for $65 (which is a bargain) on the restaurant’s final day, but I was too late as it booked out within 24 hours of the restaurant announcing that it was closing down! So I had to settle for another day and the 2 course option available on weekdays for $45, which I had enjoyed in an earlier visit (see http://foodmab.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/blancmange-bouchon-1-march-2013.html).       

The closure of Blancmange is a sign of tough times for restaurants. It had already transformed from a fine dining restaurant to a more casual diner last year. The restaurant’s new owners will be opening as a cafe called the “Pig & Pastry”.

Blackboard menu and artworks
Starters
 
Bread, butter, chicken liver pate and pork cracker

Pickled vegetables and labneh
For starters, there was bread, home churned butter, chicken liver pate and the pork cracker (all of which I had last time). They are all just as good as I remembered. The bread was great and wonderfully crusty. The butter was so good that I wanted to ask for more bread but opted against it because I didn’t want to fill myself up before the meal even started!  And oh yes, the crispy pork cracker, which reminds me of prawn crackers but better. The vegetarian gets pickled vegetables and labneh.    

Entrees

Duck, onion, toast
How much duck fat can one have? My entrée was duck rillettes. Essentially this is confit duck legs and pork tenderloin cooked in duck fat. More duck fat is mixed into the duck and pork after it has been cooled to create the duck rillettes. The duck rilletes are spread onto toast which has been brushed with duck fat. The texture of the duck rillettes reminded me of canned tuna and it was quite tasty but I can’t help but wonder how many calories I just ingested!

Leek terrine
The meat version of this entrée comes with pickled herring but the vegetarian version comes with baby beetroots instead. This was essentially Marco Pierre White’s terrine that the Masterchef Professionals had to create minus the lobster (for recipe of Marco Pierre White's lobster and leek terrine, see http://www.masterchef.com.au/recipes/terrine-of-leek-and-lobster-with-a-water-vinaigrette.htm). For those that didn’t watch MCP, the terrine is created by placing bricks on top of the layered cooked leeks and leaving it for a couple of hours so the leeks bind together to form a terrine. It really is quite a visually stunning dish (unfortunately I did not get a picture of it as the wife had already started eating it!). It is clear that Sarah Knights (who was the head chef on the night as Nathan Brindle, another Masterchef Professional, had already left Blancmange) has mastered the terrine after MCP wrapped up. Whilst the leeks are well cooked and the terrine held its shape nicely, the dish is missing something. Leeks go well with something else (e.g. lobster in Marco Pierre White’s version), but on their own the dish seems to be missing something. Maybe the pickled herrings would have lifted the dish (I will never know).     

Mains
 
Chicken, lobster boudin
For mains I had the chicken and lobster boudin, a French skinless sausage. The sausage was a chicken mousse with small bits of lobster through it. The flavours of this dish were quite pleasant. The boudin had great flavour. There was not a lot of lobster (most likely due to the price of the ingredient). The artichoke cream was nice, as was the bed of chicory that was sitting underneath the boudin. However, for me, the boudin was grainy and not as smooth as other boudins I have had in the past (the scallop boudin that I had at Becasse years ago comes to mind).

Stilton tart, pear chutney
My wife had the stilton tart and during our last visit she had a goat cheese tart, which was amazing, so my wife was eagerly looking forward to this one. As the cheese used this time was stilton, the cheese was quite strong and packed a punch. The pear chutney is a great accompaniment though to cut through the cheese. The pastry was just as good as the first time. A nice, short pastry with loads of butter. This was another great tart, however my wife preferred the goat cheese version, as the goats cheese was more manageable.    

Sides
 
Potatoes and rosemary salt
We decided to order the potatoes and rosemary salt for sides (again).  We both enjoyed these potatoes. The potatoes are triple cooked (boiled, fried and then fried). Fluffy potato in the centre and nice crispy outside!

Desserts
 
Chocolate, malt, grape
This was a chocolate tart, with malt ice cream, peeled grapes and chocolate dirt. The pastry is similar, if not the same, as the pastry used in the cheese tart, so obviously it was good. However, in my opinion, the chocolate was a bit rich and heavy. The malt ice cream, which was quite delicious, melted very quickly unfortunately. I did enjoy the crunchy texture of the chocolate dirt though.


Poached quince and gingerbread
I love poached fruits and this was no exception. The quince, which is similar to pear, was poached perfectly and broke easily with just a spoon. The gingerbread cake was really quite yummy as was the ice cream. This was easily the better of the two desserts.     

Verdict
Highlight: Duck fat overload in the duck rillettes entrée.    
Lowlight: Bye Blancmange, I hardly knew ya :(
Overall: Farewell to a great restaurant. Another pleasant meal although the previous visit had the better dishes overall. I am a fan of the casual diner, where you can go in, get decently valued food that is well cooked in a relaxed environment. That is exactly what Blancmange Bouchon was and it will be missed! Will be on the lookout for where the talented Masterchef Professionals Sarah Knights and Nathan Brindle will be next. 7/10 (Great)

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