I admit I work in highett, otherwise I probably wouldnt have heard of the French Corner. Last year chef Daniel Airoldi (formerly a chef at Jaques Reymond) took over a corner shop site that has been doomed for the last 4 years, with a change of management every year or so. He had a little deli with french cheese and small goods, homemade jams and chutneys and at Christmas time he made the nicest puddings. They did lunch with baguettes and croque mounsiers and madams, and had dinner some nights of the week with a fairly traditional menu of favourites. He also baked his own bread and pastries which were absolutely devine, apparently his original training was as a pastry chef. Oh and he made the best coffee on the strip.
So I was pretty excited to hear he had expanded his business to include a proper restaurant just down the road (at another doomed site which has held a tapas bar and a moroccan restaraunt in the last few years). On Friday I finally got a chance to go for dinner. There is a degustation menu at $99 but we ordered from the menu. Admittedly we went the fairly traditional ordering route at a frnech restaurant, but that didnt mean it was a boring meal. For entrees we shared some garlic snails and steak tartare, both fresh and flavourful. A house made bread was used to mop up the garlicy sauces and I must admitt we ate a little too much of the bread (it was just so good!). At the waiters recomendation we ordered a french red wine which was similar to a Pinot in colour and taste and which the name of unfortunately I have forgotten.
For mains we ordered a cassoulet which is the specialty of the restaurant, and a mussel dish. The mussels were served with a buttery white wine sauce, pomme frittes and a delightful aoli. The serving size was HUGE, probably the amount I normally make for the two of us. They were tender and sweet. The highlight was the cassoulet, which apparently takes 3 days to make. It consists of pork belly, a duck sausage and a duck leg in a harricot bean stew. The long cooking time gives the stew time for all the flavours to meld and the meats were tender and buttery.
We rolled out of the restaurant a little too full for our own good. It was a great meal, at a good price. By the time we left, the place was full, maybe the curse of the doomed restaurant site is over?!