A trip to France for Mothers’ Day?

Ntp 14 May 2007 9

Well not quite but we did partake in a magnificent lunch time meal of French cuisine at the Ardeche restaurant, 222 City Walk in the City (funny that).

Set looking towards the fountain in City Walk the café tables outside were empty on a pleasant if slightly cool and grey Canberra afternoon. Inside it was busy if not completely full. The décor is more modern café than traditional with just slight hints in the artwork to the cuisine. The menus on the other hand, although printed on slightly fraying blue/gray card start to give you an appreciation of the meal to come. Titles like “Jarrets d’Agneau au Vin Rouge” are thankfully expanded upon for those of us like myself who haven’t studied any French since Year 7 and the aromas and sights coming form the kitchen affirmed a high expectation of what was to arrive.

Skipping on entrees my party started with mixed bread while we waited on our mains. Although herb and garlic breads are nothing special the softness of the bread made it particularly nice.

For mains my mother ordered what turns out to be Ardeche’s signature dish, Canard à l’Orange, traditional twice-roasted duck with an orange and Grand Marnier sauce, served on roesti potato. It smelt and looked amazing and my mother, not usually given to undue adulation, used on three successive mouthfuls the term divine. And indeed it was a rich, full flavoured and beautifully moist dish (I stole a morsel or two).

I ordered the Lapereau Braise à l’Ancienne, slow-roasted white rabbit served on a bed of saffron risotto, white wine, prune and cream sauce. Again for a gamey meat with fiddly bones that can easily tend to being dry it was superbly done. The meat was succulent, the sauce rich and creamy and the flavours nicely balanced and complementary. Added to this was the bonus of when I ordered a white wine to go with the meal, instructing the waiter to pick one for me that would best go with the meal, I was provided with a wonderfully smooth and fruity Marlborough (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve been reliably informed that the only other place that has figured out how to do a really good Sauvignon Blanc is in Western Australia.

My father has been having a romance with North African food of late and so took little time selecting the Poulet Tagine, a North African-style chicken with dates, lemon, spiced cous cous and minted yoghurt. This is a meal that cannot be made to order needing at least three hours to cook. In fact all the meals were what I would describe as “slow food”, meals whose flavours are brought out by hours of slow cooking and are best enjoyed by savouring every mouthful. To accompany the Tagine and the duck my folks selected a 2006 Warburn Shiraz. Again a magnificently smooth wine with delightfully peppery Shiraz flavouring which will have me looking for a case of the stuff next time I’m at the grog shop.

Desserts and coffee followed with the choice difficult due to every one sounding delicious.

With bread, three mains, three desserts, wine, coffee and a Sunday surcharge it wasn’t a cheap meal but for the quality it was excellent value coming in just under $60 a head. The service, including the owner popping by to give a helping hand was very good and unobtrusive, thankfully without the common trend of cafés these days of having staff be showmen.

Ardeche’s website can be found at http://ardeche-restaurant.net.au/default.htm which includes full menus (although I’m not 100% sure the prices are current) and phone and email contact detail so you can book online but the link at the top of this post provides a much better overview of the restaurant.

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9 Responses to A trip to France for Mothers’ Day?
Nik_the_Pig Nik_the_Pig 2:32 pm 14 May 07

Kramer you just reminded me – they gave mum a complementary glass of champers with strawberry.

Kramer Kramer 2:09 pm 14 May 07

I was out for mother’s day lunch at the Turkish Pide Hut in Woden, which was absolutely packed. Possibly due to the free bottle of rose and chocolates for every table, but the food was also great. We went for the banquet which was fast and delicious. As usual, I was so stuffed at the end I could only just fit in the baklava and a coffee.

johnboy johnboy 1:32 pm 14 May 07

I think part of the problem is the lack of a north african community in Canberra.

Agreed it’s great stuff.

ant ant 12:37 pm 14 May 07

I like restaurant reviews! Thanks for this one.
I’m always surprised North African (morrocan and algerian) food isn’t more widespread and popular. It’s like a cross between Indian and Middle Eastern, with long slow cooking added. incredible stuff. All I’ve had is the stuff I make myself, but whenever I take it into the public, people love it.

Nik_the_Pig Nik_the_Pig 8:10 am 14 May 07

JB indeed it is and I have no idea where that repeat typo came from. It has now duely been corrected.

shauno shauno 6:25 am 14 May 07

Yes thats a good restaurant. I actually had the snails last time I was there and were quiet nice. I really recommend trying some of the French wines he has there as well although not a great range. Very nice wines and some thing different from the Aussie wines you get you usually.

johnboy johnboy 10:14 pm 13 May 07

Isn’t the restaurant called Ardeche?

Personally I’ve always had a great time there, but always been for lunch for reasons passing understanding.

Nik_the_Pig Nik_the_Pig 8:53 pm 13 May 07

I’m not aware of any restaurant every stopping anyone from ordering it’s food. An entree and a glass of vino sounds like a great light lunch to me 😉

Oh, and there is nothing stopping anyone else submitting there own reviews, or any other types of posts with a Canberra focus. In fact it would be great to hear where else others may have taken their mothers/partner/friends/self for that special dining experience this weekend.

hk0reduck hk0reduck 7:48 pm 13 May 07

It’s good to see the return of the restaurant review! Thanks NTP.

I’ve always wanted to try snails, I wonder if they would let me eat the “PAN FRIED SNAILS, GARLIC, BUTTER, WHITE WINE SERVED IN A PUFFED MILLE FEUILLE, AND SWEET RED PEPPER COULIS” just by itself.

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