L’Étoile, Sydney

A champagne cocktail at midday bodes well for an amazing birthday! Even better if followed by a tasty, unpretentious French lunch with some of the most important people in my life. I had decided to spend my birthday in Sydney this year, after being in the mood for a quiet one at home last year. Unbeknownst to me, Soy had done heaps of research and arranged all the details for my birthday 3 weeks earlier, before she left on her trip to Singapore and Hong Kong. The day was supposed to be a surprise, and I didn’t know what plans she had up her sleeve. I knew, though, that I wanted to spend the day eating! And being in the company of dear friends. As I mentioned in a previous post, M and I have been friends for 13 years now, and an important criteria for me was spending it with her and her partner, S. M and I both had the Bocuse special, created by Paul Bocuse himself, with champagne, crème de cassis and crème de framboise. It was deeeelicious! Champagne and birthdays go hand in hand, don’t you think?

One reason why Soy chose L’Étoile is because I have a bit of a soft spot for the charming Manu Feildel, chef de cuisine. He has such a cheeky larrakin air about him and I am of course, a sucker for that French accent. I was hoping to meet him when Soy and I went to Bilson’s a couple of years ago, but he had just moved to L’Étoile. It seems I am just not destined to meet him because Soy actually asked when she made the booking, and he had filming commitments on the day we were there. The restaurant itself is situated in a townhouse in Paddington, and we absolutely loved the atmosphere both inside and out. The simplicity and unpretentiousness of the interior carries through to the lunch menu, with a selection of 3 entrées, mains and desserts, 2 salads and a range of sides, which are all classic French dishes. We all decided to have the 2-course lunch special at $50 each.

Jerusalem artichoke veloute, basil oil & sourdough toast

S had the Jerusalem artichoke soup, and we all dug our spoons in and sighed in appreciation. It was velvety smooth, tasty and very more-ish. And I learned the French word for Jerusalem artichoke- ‘topinambour’ :)

Terrine of rabbit rillettes & foie gras, prune jam & toasted brioche

Soy decided to order something different, and chose the rabbit terrine. We are both usually not huge fans of terrines or patés, but I found the terrine to be quite tasty, particularly when eaten on the brioche together with the prune jam. I was happy with that one mouthful though. I don’t think I could have eaten all of the terrine, and Soy did struggle a bit because it was a sizeable portion. Unfortunately we couldn’t convince M or S to step out of their comfort zone and try the terrine. S had a look on his face that said “You want me to eat rabbit? I’m sticking with my soup, thankyouverymuch!”

Lightly smoked John Dory chowder style

My favourite entrée though, was the John Dory that M and I both chose. The fish had the most subtle smoked flavour- I may not have picked it up if not told it had been smoked, but it had the most lovely crispy skin/crust that paired so beautifully with the sauce that was creamy, savoury and with just a hint of butteriness. The tiny diced vegetables and baby clams added another texture to each mouthful. I was honestly in heaven!

Butcher's steak, black peppercorn and cognac sauce

M and S both had the steak for their mains. If I hadn’t already known what Soy and I were having, I’d definitely have chosen this. We had been eyeing it on another table when we first arrived, and it was every bit as juicy and flavoursome as it looks. The peppercorn and cognac sauce was absolutely magnificent. I kept dipping my fries into M‘s sauce on her plate- it was a true flavour hit in the mouth, but yet tasted so uncomplicated and light despite the cream.

Now, there is a bit of a story with my main. I remember months ago, commenting to Soy that I wanted her to cook me bouillabaisse for my birthday. She’s made the most lovely bouillabaisse twice I think, and I happened to be craving it one day and made that ‘request’. So, she didn’t get the chance to cook for me but knew that L’Étoile served bouillabaisse for dinner. When she made our booking way back, she had spoken to someone who assured her that we could have a special order of the bouillabaisse for lunch that day. Fast forward to the day before my birthday, Soy got a call confirming our booking and when she double checked about the bouillabaisse, she was told that we couldn’t have it because the restaurant’s fish delivery only came at 5pm. Soy was in a panic, but after a bit of back and forth with the restaurant, was told that all was ok and it was all sorted!

Bouillabaisse- south of France traditional fish stew

I really would have been fine if I didn’t get bouillabaisse, but I’m glad Soy went through all that trouble cos it was delicious! And I brought some of the lemon and poppyseed macarons I made for the staff for all their trouble! The stew was thick and full of flavour. The fish pieces and yabby were really fresh and with each mouthful, I had some of the creamy seafood with the salty broth. The broth really had such an amazing depth of flavour.

Pommes frites

One must-have for me was a bowl of pommes frites- true French fries, that is, shoestring fries. This is my favourite cut of fries and L’Étoile’s fries were crisp and salty on the outside and soft on the inside, with maximum crust, just the way I like it! I actually left behind the potatoes in my bouillabaisse so that I could have more fries!

The food at L’Étoile was excellent because it was simple, uncomplicated and good. No pretenses. The service was friendly and felt like an authentic French experience as I would try my best to understand snatches of French as the staff rattled off to each other. There was a true feeling of being relaxed throughout our lunch there. L’Étoile truly is a shining star in my book!

For me, good food and good friends are essential for a perfect birthday. What about you?

L’Étoile

211 Glenmore Road, Paddington

(02) 9332 1566

www.letoilerestaurant.com.au

L'Etoile on Urbanspoon

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  • http://twitter.com/wayfaringchoc Hannah Terry-Whyte

    Aw, that all looks so beautiful, particularly the soup and terrine. But where’s dessert? Oh noes! :P

  • http://www.michelle-chin.com Michelle Chin

    WOWOWWOWOWWOOWWOWOW!!!

    M and S, whoever they are, are missing out big time on the rabbit rilette! I remembered having it once in some french place and it was so delicious! Then I realized that the market (the place where i got my pate) sells them too! :D Can’t wait for rabbit rilette sandwich!

  • http://vondelicious.blogspot.com Von

    Mmm…everything looks so yummy! It’s a shame you couldn’t meet Manu Feildel but the food looks so delicious that it wouldn’t be hard to keep coming back here until you do!

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Ahaha very astute, Hannah.. no birthday is complete without dessert right? But these very sweet people had something else up their sleeve… Soy will tell you all about it in another post coming up ;)

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Oh man, foie gras sandwiches for brekkie and soon rabbit rillette sandwiches??? Remember your champagne with your breakfast! ;)

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Hahaha that’s exactly right. Von. I would go back just for more of that John Dory….

  • Anonymous

    I saw Manu in person last year, and he looks much better in real life than on TV. He does have that cheeky grin thing going on doesn’t he? What a fantastic lunch, Yummmy looking bouillabaise!

  • Vindee

    Happy belated birthday! What a yummy way to celebrate! I could do with some bubbly, and you almost tempt me to try some terrine, but maybe not rabbit! I’m not still that adventurous! Poor bunny – sniff!

  • http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com Helen (Grab Your Fork)

    Sounds like you had a great birthday, even without a live Manu sighting. Love that shot of the terrine. Perfect angle for my gullet!

  • http://anediblemosaic.com Faith

    Happy Birthday! This meal looks like it was a fantastic birthday celebration. The John Dory looks really delicious!

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees that cheeky charm! One day I will charm him back with my not-so-impressive French!

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Thank you Deeba!! Yeah we usually think about the bunny but Soy decided to try something different! It’s not something I would voluntarily choose though- I can’t help but think of fluffy cute bunnies :(

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    Thanks Faith!! Like I said, good food, good friends and bubbly… can’t ask for more on a birthday!

  • http://www.honeyandsoy.com honeyandsoy

    I did, Helen, thank you!! :) And I just had a mental image of the terrine flying through the air and slipping down the gullet of someone facing the computer! Hahahahaha….

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    So very true. Even with so-so food, you can have a memorable experience just because the company is so good. When both are tops, it’s an event to never forget. ;)

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  • Malz

    Those pictures have just reminded me how amazing our lunch was. I’m totally craving the John Dory right now :)