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Monday, November 24, 2008

Restaurant Blancmange, Petersham

EDIT: Restaurant Blancmange has closed and been replaced by The Pig and Pastry

Tucked away on a small street off busy Parramatta Road lies the unassuming Restaurant Blancmange, former site of Manna. It's so discreet that I'm struck by the lack of on-street signage, a cursive script above the door providing the only indication a restaurant lies behind the striped blue canopies and sheer white curtains.

And so it's the little details in this restaurant that impress me most. The tiny handpainted cups that hold the salt flakes for each table are pretty, whimsical and functional too. Personal and quirky touches resonate throughout the evening, from the domino that gets deposited on our table (it signifies to floorstaff that the table is having dessert) to the ornate saucer that holds our tea and coffee sugars, to the random chess piece that accompanies our bill at the end of the evening.

But back to the start of our meal, we unwind in the small dining room, crisp white linen on each table, the sounds of traffic a world away. Large windows look onto the local park; at the other end is the bar surrounded by wine bottles, a corridor to the bathroom offering a tantalising glimpse of the still-quiet kitchen.

The menu here is printed daily on buff coloured sheets pinned to a clipboard. We are told the menu changes daily, although significant alterations happen about every three weeks. For a rotating menu, the list of options is nothing but comprehensive. We count six entrees, four mains, three specials, five desserts and two different cheeses. Vegetarians have a choice of three entrees and one special. None of us can resist the allure of three courses for $50 (excludes daily specials).

We enjoy complimentary crusty sourdough bread, so good we don't hesitate to agree when offered another serve. It doesn't take long for our entrees to arrive.

Chicken liver parfait with pinot noir jelly, cornichons, onion jam and toast $16

I order the chicken liver parfait, a feast of textures and flavours that is simply divine. A china cup holds the chicken liver parfait, protected by a crimson lake of firm pinot noir jelly.

The parfait is sweet and creamy, delicious on crunchy slices of toasted sourdough, that marry well with the slivers of caramelised balsamic onion and vinegary cornichons.

Quail, witlof and grape salad with roast duck filo cigars and hazelnut dressing $16

The petite slices of quail breast are a blushing pink, tender and delicate in an intricate salad of witlof leaves, grapes and baby cress. Roast duck filo cigars are a rich man's spring roll.

Crisp polenta with zucchini fritters, chickpea puree, tomato and olive salad $16

Twice baked cheese and herb souffle $16

I also manage to taste the twice-baked cheese and herb souffle, its creamy richness making for perfect comfort dining with every molten spoonful.

Roasted Berkshire pork belly $28
with baked onion with pork and sage stuffing, Dutch carrots and currants

For mains I found it hard to go past the roasted Berkshire pork belly. The fat-ribboned pork is meltingly soft and tender, its brittle roof of salted crackling carefully set aside of savouring until last. I'm not a big fan of the onions filled with pork and sage stuffing, but I do think the currants work well with the pork.

Black Angus rump steak with wild garlic and parsley sauce $28
served with shoestring chips

I switch meals halfway with Veruca Salt, a deal struck when neither of us could decide between the pork belly and the steak. Whilst the Black Angus rump steak looks promising enough--its interior a glorious pink of medium rare well-rested perfection--the taste doesn't quite follow through, a little dry in parts that probably isn't helped by the thick veneer of black charring on one side.

Poached organic chicken breast and seared Queensland scallops $28
with spring vegetables, white bean broth and salsa verde

The poached chicken breast with scallop is a simple dish with natural flavours, although some think the flavours are a little too muted.

Broccoli and green beans with herb butter $7
Shoestring chips $7

Meringue and creme fraiche roulade with tropical fruits $12

And finally, dessert. The meringue roulade is rolled with a dollop of tangy creme fraiche but even the addition of fresh pineapple doesn't halt the cloying sweetness of this dish overall. I can't help hankering for some tart berries to counter the sweetness, a dash of red or green would also help the dish visually as well.

Strawberry and white chocolate ice cream terrine with blood orange $12

Chocolate and banana cream pie with caramel ripple ice cream $12

I cleverly manage to swap half my meringue roulade for a portion of the chocolate and banana cream pie, a dish which was mis-named in my opinion for I would've ordered this in a flash otherwise. Like a chocolatey version of my favourite banoffee pie, I loved the crisp chocolate biscuit shell, the creamy slices of banana and the sweet puddle of caramel ice cream. The chocolate sauce was perhaps a little excessive, and by the time I'd finished my half-portion I was almost glad there was no more, its richness already about to push me over the edge.

Vanilla creamed rice with poached apricots and pistachio biscotti $12

Fourme d'Ambert, cows milk blue cheese (50grams) $12
served with fruit and poppy seed loaf, quince paste and pear

I was also impressed by the cheese plate, a generous portion of Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese alongside toasted fruit bread, wafer crispbread, pears and grapes and a square of the stickiest quince paste I've ever seen.

A minor quibble: we got hit with a standard 10% group service charge even though we were split over two smaller tables (six and four). Each table was treated separately, with different waiters, separate meal arrival times and separate bills.

The room did get a little noisy when the dining room was full. Otherwise the service was excellent: attentive and thoughtful.

Restaurant Blancmange replaced by The Pig and Pastry
1 Station Street, Petersham, Sydney
Open Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-11pm

BYO wine only Tuesday to Thursday
Corkage $3.50 per person

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Petersham--Costa Do Sol (Portuguese)
Petersham--La Parrillada (Peruvian)
Petersham--Perama (Greek, modern)
Petersham--Sweet Belem (Portuguese bakery)
Stanmore--La Peniche (French cooking school restaurant)
11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/24/2008 12:45:00 am


  • At 11/24/2008 7:22 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The parfait was a dream.

    The 10% group surcharge was a nightmare. Who invented this charge? Right up there with cakeage.

    But the parfait was good....

    Constant upselling even though you order the $50 3 course meal.

    But the parfait was good....

    No BYO on Friday and Saturdays?

    No, not even the parfait could save this one.

  • At 11/24/2008 8:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oooh, my cousin (who I'm told reads this blog! Helloooo!) went here for her work Christmas party last year and said it was delicious food and great value. Looks lovely!

  • At 11/24/2008 8:57 am, Blogger K said…

    OMG when did you go?? I just went on Friday (21st Nov) with some friends.
    A few remarks:
    - Our menu also included the Angus beef, which was in the same situation as yours. Dry and tasteless. We could hardly cut it with the knives provided.
    - Also had the pork belly but it didn't have the onions nor currants. We had a perfect slab of potato gratin and 3 cute cauliflower beignets.
    - We didn't even consider the other desserts when we saw "chocolate and banana cream pie". We were imagining a pie with cream on top, similar to one which gets thrown in one's face. But we all scraped the plate clean on that one.
    - Strangely though, we were also a party of 10 but didn't get charged extra 10%. You should complain!

  • At 11/24/2008 2:04 pm, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    Thanks for the review, I have been meaning to go after they dropped some leaflets into our letterbox:)

  • At 11/24/2008 3:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OOhh seems like quite a little gem of a place. I am totally sucked in by that pork belly mmmmmm. I'm guessing the parfait is also another winner ehh, Veruca Salt :P?

    The steak makes me sad but I guess it is rump :(

  • At 11/24/2008 8:54 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    That parfait looks awesome - I think I could go just for that! And that surcharge really does suck, especially as they treated your two tables separately...

  • At 11/25/2008 1:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, chocolatey banoffee pie, it combines everything you could want in a dessert!

  • At 11/25/2008 2:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    that's a shame about the group surchage, that would've annoyed me.

    i went to Blancmange earlier this year and really enjoyed it. i had the cheese souffle, i do recommend but it is VERY rich. lamb cutlets for mains, fantastic. and lemon delicious pudding for dessert which was very nice.

  • At 11/25/2008 11:20 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - The parfait was delicious indeed. Could we make it a moveable feast and just have entrees :)

    Hi hunnyb - Ooh yes they have a private dining room next door which looks very cosy. You have to enter off the street via a separate entrance.

    Hi K - We were there the night before, and ha, for some reason I was thinking of an apple pie with banana. Doh, don't know what I was thinking! Thanks for your tasting notes too. Sorry to hear your steak suffered a similar fate as wel :(

    Hi Miss Honey - I think it's great to support local restaurants. We need more of them :)

    Hi FFichiban - Yes I was sad too, particularly as it was priced as a $28 steak. I don't think the cut of the meat was the problem, it seemed more like the way it had been seared. It was very well rested.

    Hi Annie - Hmmm it did cause a bit of table grumbling, particularly as it seemed as though we weren't treated as a group throughout the night anyway.

    Hi Anon - I can't find reference to it only being sold without the skin? It seems to be featured on many menus with crackling?

    Hi Arwen - I agree. It's doubly delicious!

    Hi Lindsey Clare - I had a taste of the cheese souffle and I did think it was very rich. It's great that they change their menu so often. Seasonal menus are always more exciting (and usually taste better too).

  • At 11/28/2008 7:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    we ate there a year ago. thoroughly enjoyed it. from memory, the wine list was excellent too.

  • At 11/29/2008 9:29 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Lucas - It's great to have good local restaurants. Glad you enjoyed your meal (and still remember it fondly too!).


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