Libertine (MFWF Express Lunch)March 17, 2012
500 Victoria Street, North Melbourne
Note: Libertine has since closed.
Another of my MFWF express lunches. This time I was accompanied by my lovely friend H, who immediately after our lunch rushed off to see a prospective landlord in Collingwood. She did get the place in the end (huzzah!), so I am very keen on spending more time on Smith Street with her!
I instantly liked the interior. Cosy, warm and intimate, the main feature of the room is a velvet green lounge along one side, capped with a long row of empty wine bottles, all with interesting labels. Soft French music was playing gently, and the warm sun filtering in through the windows warmed my skin and made me sleepy. It was such a lovely setting for our lunch, but I also think it’d be particularly good for a date.
The express lunch menu has two options each for entree, main and dessert: rabbit or trout; veal or flathead; cheese or cheesecake (we declined dessert this time).
“What mood are you in?”
“I think I’m in a rabbit mood.”
“Oh yes? I’m in more of a trout mood myself.”
And so it was that H would have the entree of Yarra Valley rainbow trout mi-cuit, leek soubise and petals. And wow, this dish looked so pretty upon arrival! Love the pink pop from the peals. Also note the excellent lighting in this shot, all thanks to H’s superb napkin holding abilities!
I had the Central Victorian wild rabbit gougère, watercress and a mustard mousse. I loved the smoothness of the mousse and the gougère contrasted with the crisp piece of pastry.
We also ended up choosing a different main each, so I feel we really managed to capitalise on the menu (in terms of what I could take photos of/review). Here is H’s rather rustic and very tasty dish of Warrnambool rose veal blanquette, truffled kipflers and shallots. I was lucky enough to try some, and it was wonderfully creamy (but light) and the veal was soft and tender.
Here is the other main Libertine was offering on the Express menu: seared Lakes Entrance flathead, heirloom tomato tarte fine and sorrel beurre blanc. Two words: beurre blanc. Yes. Yes.
The “tarte fine” was more of a deconstructed affair, being a tile of pastry with roasted tomatoes placed on top. But the fish was the stand out: there really is nothing better than a simply seared piece of fish, glistening white flesh yielding to my fork, and the slight tang of salt grains that marry so well with its delicate flavour.
I know I went from rabbit to fish, and I know I was having red wine with this dish when white probably would have matched better, but in my defense, I really like red wine. I also really liked Libertine, and am eager to return to try their full menu – now to find an unsuspecting friend with an upcoming birthday…
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