Three weeks. That’s how far ahead we had this dinner planned. Our first attempt to dine at Bistro Arlette failed when we were trying to organise a little get-together of food bloggers last year. This year, we were determined to give the bistro another go.
Alas, something came up and the dinner morphed into a girl’s night out with just Jessalyn and me. Not that that’s a bad thing. It had been such a long time since we last chatted away about life in general and she still hadn’t told me anything about her long holiday back in December. I was really looking forward to it.
I was first to arrive and was ushered to a table right in front of the front door. Oh dear, I thought. Other diners were coming through and I studied the menu intently, hoping none were looking at the empty table setting beside me and wondering if my date was standing me up.
A couple of messages, a phone call to let me know there was a bit of an emergency and Jessalyn finally arrived, apologetic and eager to hit the evening running. I had already studied the menu quite thoroughly and knew which options I would favour, so we picked out a bottle of wine to share and got straight into catching up.
This was Jessalyn’s first time trying lamb’s brains and I tried my best to describe it, so she’d be mentally prepared for the experience. I personally like lamb’s brains and enjoy the contrasting textures of creamy brains with the crunchy breadcrumbs, but know many who cannot stand the idea, texture or flavour of the stuff. So kudos to Jess who tried a bite, but decided that the actual shape, colour and texture of the brain was just too off-putting. I had ordered the mixed mushroom tartlet with herbed creme fraiche (AUD$18.90) and traded my entree with her, since I like lambs brains and didn’t want Jess to suffer through an entree she didn’t like.
Jess seemed to enjoy her chicken filled with spinach & goat cheese. I had a taste of the lentils, and was surprised by the heavy hand of vinegar.
The first thing that hit me with my prawn pasta with garlic and chilli is the pungent aroma of garlic. Don’t get me wrong – I adore garlic and don’t mind having anti-vampire breath, but some might be turned off by this. In which case, don’t order this dish, unless your partner doesn’t mind kissing you with garlicky breath. Unfortunately nothing else about the pasta was particularly exciting.
For dessert, Jessalyn couldn’t decide between the crème brulee or the salted caramel parfait, so left it to the maître d to decide on her behalf. What came back was a perfect ramkin of crème brulee with a hefty crisp shell of caramelised sugar protecting the soft jiggly custard underneath.
I didn’t have any qualms about what I wanted: chocolate tart, brandied cherries & coconut anglaise. The chocolate was rich and thick without being too sweet, and while the brandied cherries weren’t terribly alcoholic, the dessert in its entirety made for a very nice finish a very girly gossipy evening.