Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Good Food Month and Undertow Media.
According to Guillaume Brahimi, champagne is for any time of the day – even breakfast.
Now I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I can definitely accept champagne on a warm summer night. As part of Good Food Month, I headed to Bistro Guillaume in late November for one of the highlight events: four courses of delicious food matched with champagne.
Bistro Guillaume, in the Crown complex, is part of Guillaume Brahimi’s suite of restaurants (also Sydney, Perth). It was inspired by France’s neighbourhood bistros, and the fit out inside is classic mixed with a bit of whimsy. The dark wooden tables and chairs are classic, and very chic, and the whimsy comes from the big boofy fabric lampshades that look somewhat like petticoats.
Brahimi is a French-born chef, now based in Sydney. It was great to see, as we peered through the cut out to the kitchen, that he was in attendance and overseeing everything that night. He also came out and said hello to each table during the evening and was a lovely and affable man.
Upon arrival, the evening started on the terrace looking out to the river, with a glass of Mumm and canapes – spanner crab sandwiches and terrine. Both were a great start in whetting the appetite. The sandwiches were on a very soft, fluffy white bread, which showcased the crab filling, and the terrine was very flavoursome.
After that we moved indoors and were served the first course.
Course 1: Spanner crab, cucumber gazpacho and smoked oyster cream
Champagne: Agrapart ‘Terroirs’ Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru.
Champagne notes: A stunning mixture of 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from the vintages of 2008 and 2009. This tiny producer focuses all energy on quality not quantity, and it shows with a wine that exudes refined minerality, stone fruit and floral characteristics, finished beautifully by its creamy texture.
The gazpacho was quite incredible. There was tons of flavour in the cucumber soup and it went well with the hint of smoky oyster flavour from the cream, the bursty fish eggs, and the generous amount of sweet and succulent crab. Really lovely dish.
Course 2: Poached egg and truffle hollandaise
Champagne: Paul Bara Brut Reserve NV 185
Champagne notes: Paul Bara is regarded by many as the ‘baby’ Krug‘, and is based in the appropriately named ‘Bouzy’ region which is famous for its warmer climate, powerful red fruit flavors and layered, textural wines. This wine has a beautiful, bready complexity and round, rich, mouth-feel.
Next there was a poached egg, served with asparagus spears and truffle hollandaise.
The egg had been slow cooked, resulting in that gooey yolk and creamy white. The hollandaise sauce gave the entire dish even more creaminess, and a hint of truffle and lemon.
Course 3: Blue eye trevalla, confit of leek, mussel, clam and beurre blanc
Champagne: 2004 Perrier Jouet ‘Belle Epoque’
Champagne notes: A blend of Chardonnay (55%) and Pinot Noir (45%), this wine has the classic contrasts of concentration and finesse with a long, fine, supple mouth peppered with flavors.
The last savoury course was a piece of blue eye trevalla. This came sitting on top of a leek, mussel and clam confit, and beurre blanc. The fish was perfectly cooked, flaking easily with the fork, and the leek confit and beurre blanc was incredible. I wanted to mop up all the delicious sauce.
(Also, this was SUCH a nice champagne.)
Course 4: Raspberry and rose macaron
Champagne: G.H Mumm Cordon Rose
Champagne notes: Classic ‘strawberry and cream aroma’ with a fresh zesty mouth-feel. Lots of red fruits follow on the palate and there is a lingering acidity towards the finish – definitely not the sweet version of rosé but a sophisticated, structured, and balanced wine.
How beautiful is this dessert? The final dish was a raspberry and rose macaron with sorbet. Large macarons can be hard to make, but this was perfect. Inside the macaron were some fresh tart raspberries and rose scented cream, sitting on top of a raspberry sorbet.
This was quite the lovely dinner – each dish was on point and exemplified the best of French cuisine: seemingly unfussy dishes, cooked perfectly, with incredible sauces. The champagnes were also delicious.
I can definitely think of worse ways to spend a Monday night.