Our intrepid, lionhearted gastronome, Matthew Wilson, finds congenial compotation and wholesome classic French cooking suits – Suits.
PM 24 … no it’s not a convenience store, but the acclaimed Philippe Mouchel’s, latest French incarnation in Melbourne – a modern French Bistro and Rotisserie, at 24 Russell Street – http://pm24.com.au/
Mouchel worked for the legendary Paul Bocuse ( … thoughts of Black Truffle soup and Bresse Chicken Truffle Cooked in a Pigs Bladder, immediately spring to mind) in Lyon, and then assisted in the building of the Bocuse restaurant empire in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Houston. In 1991, he established the Australian arm with the super high end Paul Bocuse at Daimaru, in Melbourne.
So in the mood for some good tucker and a casual glass of plonk on a quiet Tuesday night, four suits headed to PM 24. The décor is dominated by simplicity; indeed quite industrial, cavernous ceilings reveal its former purpose as an office/ showroom in the heart of the CBD. A “C” shaped dining room encloses an open kitchen which houses the focal point of the restaurant – the rotisserie – its warmth both seen and felt. Mouchel stands tall, dressed in black chef’s attire, on the restaurant side of the kitchen, applying his skills to the finishing touches, ensuring the sprig of rosemary is perfectly placed on the signature Organic Milawa Chicken.
In Mouchel’s words … “Rotissoire cooking is one of the oldest cooking techniques and is such a natural way to bring out the flavour of the meat. Spit roasting, with its gentle cooking and self-basting is for me the father of slow cooking”
Three of us start with a dozen each of freshly shucked oysters, fresh lemon and shallot vinegar. Small sweet sea flavoured morsels from South Australia’s famed Coffin Bay no less … and washed down with some traditional French cleansing ale – Gavroche, a Bière de Garde, from Brasserie de St-Sylvestre, located in the town of Saint-Sylvestre-Cappel in Northeastern France. Dense creamy head, earthy yeasty nose and a cleansing palate with a tad of spirit finish (the 8.5% alcohol making its presence).
After stealing three oysters from one of the suits, I opted for the Degustation Charcuterie – cured ham, saucisson, rabbit and duck rillettes, onion confiture and help yourself to the jar of cornichons … salt, fat, fruit sweetness and texture melt seamlessly into the palate.
Then a couple of bottles of Bouchard Pere & Fils Reserve Bourgogne 2009 (Cote de Beaune)… vibrant red/ purple showing the vintage ripeness; good acid, structure and plenty of fruit … a non-complicated burgundy to lubricate the discussion and assist with the solving of the world’s problems.
Mains followed …
I opted for the Four Point Rack of Lamb, farci ravioli and eggplant. Aussie’s love their lamb…our mum’s rearing us on lamb roasts with mint sauce, roasted vegies and plenty of gravy. This lamb was pink, succulent and juicy … grass feed goodness shining through the flavour profile.
For our two first-timers, I recommended the signature Organic Milawa Chicken, rosemary and preserved lemon, sautéed potato grand mere … they was not disappointed … slow basted tasty skin, rendered fat through the moist tender flesh … indeed an entire bird could be easily be digested.
And it’s worth noting, if you find yourself in Melbourne and can’t be bothered dining in, the chicken is available tapau (take-away) Monday to Friday lunch and dinner.
Suit number four elected the evening special, Wagyu fillet … so good he refused to share some with me. Hence, you could imagine it tasted good.
Sides were Mushroom Melange with garlic persillade and Pomme Frites parmesan, rosemary – sorry mum, no greens. I am a fungi fiend … the earth, the texture and the forest floor … it’s hard to beat, particularly with red meat and red wine. Both sides accompanied our mains well … crisp dry double fried frites of which you always eat too many!!
To drink, a couple of bottles of Delas Freres ‘Francois de Tournon’ 2007 (St. Joseph) – dark red clarity, white pepper and raspberry on the nose; ripe dark fruits, a touch of choc and ample roundness, again not complicated, and easily gluggible for a Tuesday evening.
We finished with a selection of fromage (a blue, a soft and a hard) and to be honest I can’t remember their exact identities … but the platter was left empty.
Our sommelier then presented us with a glass of sticky, on the house, to end a top evening – Alain Brumont Pacherenc Doux ‘Les Larmes Celeste’ 2005 – South West France made from petit manseng I think? Light straw gold, pretty floral, a touch of lemon and honey.
The final touch, with the bill, is a square of home-made marshmallow, coconut flavoured on this occasion and a long square snake is removed from a jar, and four blocks scissored off.
Uncomplicated, authentic, attentive and most importantly tasty … PM24 is a regular haunt.
PM24 is located at 24 Russell St. Melbourne VIC 3000 ph: 03 9207 7424 www.pm24.com.au
Also read about Philippe Mouchel’s cookbook, More than French published by Slattery Media, ISBN 9780980744729