As my friends and I decided to go on a traditional French cuisine night, I suggested Claire’s Kitchen.
Coming from France I actually haven’t tried many French restaurants here in Sydney, I tend to find them slightly overpriced and not comparable to restaurants in France. However, I do miss some French traditional dishes and I am always very excited to take my friends to a French restaurant so they can try some French delicacies… [some Délices culinaires françaises! Aha!]
All the waiters are French, and hearing them communicating in la langue de Molière with each other adds to the French atmosphere of the restaurant. Some of them were quite surprised hearing me speaking French without an accent. I love my camouflage; people can never tell a French foodie is hidden behind this Asian appearance of mine.
As I wanted my friends to experience a few traditional dishes, we ordered several dishes to try, 2 entrées, 4 mains and 2 desserts, and of course, a few cocktails and glasses of wine! Ah bah oui !
The bread came in a basket with butter on the side, which was not salted at all (in France they normally serve it half-salted: ‘demi-sel’), but there was salt and pepper on the table so it was up to us to salt it as we liked it.
As we were conversing while waiting for food, we realised the entrées took really long to come to our table (we waited about 40min to an hour…). At that point we already started to get full from eating the bread with butter.
The soufflé au fromage was delicious. It wasn’t a big puffy soufflé that you often see with dessert soufflés, but this one was dense and packed with cheese inside; oh so yummy!
Additional info: soufflé comes from the verb souffler, which means to blow up/puff up – which is actually what happens when a soufflé is baked in an oven!
The escargots were also quite delicious. Also, as opposed to what most people might think, us French, don’t eat escargots all the time, we eat them at special occasions (e.g. Christmas or NYE), often as appetizers.
Fun fact /’Let’s learn something new with Lisa today’: Snails are actually packed with nutrients like calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.
So, keen to taste them now? No? Oh well, I tried! (It’s okay, there are actually many French people who have NEVER tried escargots!)
As we asked for a bit more bread to accompany our entrees (having eaten almost all of it during the long wait for entrees), they told us we already had a basket, and another one would cost us $4.50. Well, we thought it wasn’t necessary and ended up sharing the last portion of bread to accompany the soufflé au fromage and the succulent escargots jus. I thought that was a bit disappointing knowing we had to wait about an hour for entrées.
After entrées we waited for about 45 minutes for our mains to come. Although the wait was getting a bit frustrating for us, the quality of the food made up for it once our mains were served.
The Canard en Croute was one of the waiter’s recommendations, and indeed, it is one of the dishes they do best at Claire’s Kitchen. The pastry was crispy and light, and the duck very tender and tasty.
All of our meats were very tender and juicy, very well-cooked. The Chateaubriand came with sides: some French beans, some gratin dauphinois (potato gratin) and some mushrooms. The highlight of this dish was definitely the Béarnaise sauce.
After our mains we were very full, but we had to try a few desserts, after seeing many of the dessert plates being carried around by the waiters.
We wanted to try all of them, but we settled for an éclair au chocolat and a lemon tart to share.
The presentation of the two desserts made it more appetising, especially with the little scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side. We were all salivating already but it was almost too pretty to eat and destroy this lovely presentation…
The two desserts were exquisite, especially the lemon tart. You could really taste the lemon inside and it was not too sweet itself. The chocolate éclair was also very good, although the croute was harder than a usual éclair. I personally preferred the lemon tart because I found the chocolate éclair a little bit too rich and sweet.
The bill came up to $280, but with the entertainment card we had $40 off, so $240 in total. I found the prices decent, apart from the desserts ($18 each).
Overall the food is good and very traditional, the atmosphere very elegant and ‘French’ (chic wallpaper, nice couches, chandeliers…). The low noise level and the ambiance of the restaurant allows easy conversations (so perfect for a catch up dinner with friends or for a romantic date!). The waiters are nice and friendly but the only disappointing aspect for us that night was the slow service (about an hour and a half to a 2 hour wait in total).
I would recommend this place if you’re looking for good French traditional dishes, but not if you’re in a hurry (Our dinner lasted for about 3 hours in total).