It was close to home, so once i heard Manu was opening a new restaurant from broadsheet, i was straight onto it. Looked up the website, and this girl talking in a francois accent. I thought hmmmm am I on the right page or what. I don’t think I have watched an episode of MKR this year. But who doesn’t know who Manu is – French celebrity chef on TV blah blah. His new restaurant in South Yarra is situated where George’s Calombaris’s old restaurant “Mama Baba” once was. Next to another celebrity chef Adriano Zumbo’s dessert patisserie “Zumbo”. There use to be an entrance on the Chapel St side where you would go down the stairs. They have obviously scrapped that and the entrance was now through the little alleyway where you can go through Clarendon St. They have totally ripped out this whole place and have changed most of the interior.
As the name suggests, maybe they’re trying to make you feel like you’re entering a circus?! Well it felt like it. Or maybe felt like entering a night club. I don’t know whether they open for lunch, it would feel a bit weird if they did open then. Once you get to the “booth”, it can see a cloak room so you can hang up your jackets etc. A smartly dressed waiter will greet you wearing a bow tie and suspenders.
We had to wait a little while as we came a tad earlier than our booking time of 8:45pm. There was a lounge area where we sat whilst waiting for the tables. Whilst we were waiting, we had some chilli popcorn (super hot). There was a popcorn machine with wheels just in the distance. Now I wonder if theres a trapeze or a guy flying upside down whilst we’re having dinner. Maybe Manu flying through rings with fire!
We were finally led to our table. There was yellow light box in the middle of the restaurant with padded leather seating throughout. The kitchen was still where it was when Mama Baba was. There was Manu, big french man. A lady was taking a photo with him and was putting her hand on his big french breasts. nice…
Here comes the drinks. Ordered a chicks drink for a change some grapejuice mocktail, whilst “IK” had a alcoholic sparking drink.
There wasn’t too much fancy stuff on the menu of one page. Some cold dishes, mains, and sides. We opted for some escargots, cassoulet (as everyone was having this) and some school prawns.
School Prawns with aioli. Standard stuff. Chin Chin’s and the old Giuseppe and Arnaldo’s did good school prawns as well.
French are attentive people. “IK” had a cup with a handle. Cute.
This is one massive bone marrow. Straight away, I went and googled up is bone marrow fat?! Luckily it came up with things like filled with great nutrients and very healthy for you! I thought if it was all fat it would have been over kill. Somehow, we rather the classical escargot in a little escargot pan with olive oil. It was tasty and the marrow was juicy and rich.
This casoulet has stewed white beans, toulouese sausages, speck bacon and confit chicken wings. “IK” didn’t like the mashy white beans, made her choke and the combination was a bit plain. Nothing to rave about. Did well with matching the colours of the cast iron pot with the circus theme.
The pomme frittes was disappointing, wasn’t crunchy was on the cold side, probably been sitting on the counter for a while. Finished it nevertheless
The shredded celeraic was very rich. Lots of mayo and some crab meat. Don’t think our combination we ordered was that great to be honest. Too much for our liking.
The circus theme made me think theres going to be some spectacle but was sadly disappointed with the quality of the dishes. The escargot and bone marrow was the dish for me, but the rest we ordered were average. Prices were reasonable, neither too expensive or too cheap. The prelude was good, but the ending was sad. I rather Philipe Mouchel’s PM 24 (now closed). The jus and more frenchy dishes were just more appealing to me. Manu may have wanted to introduce more relaxed and a more Australian feel.
Rating – 13/20
Where would you go for French?
* This review is totally my and sole opinion. Feel free to disagree or agree with me.