Courtney's Brassiere Review

After like 2 years, I can finally say that I have actually eaten at Courtney’s Brassiere.  I wouldn’t say that there is much hype around it, in fact you rarely hear of its name amongst food circles but if you live and or frequent Parramatta then the name may sound familiar. I first stumbled upon them at the end of 2012; I had finished the HSC and it was the day that I received my ATAR mark and so my mum and I were due for dinner. Back then (yes I am old enough to use this expression-jokes) I was (and still am) a bit bored of Church St so I decided to take a walk down Phillip St to see what places I missed during my high school years by sticking exclusively to Church St. That was when I walked past Courtney’s Brassiere, and back then they were located in this heritage building and through their windows you could see all the wine glasses and cutlery laid out splendidly. And to a person who had just completed secondary education, I guess I was a bit intimidated. Of course keep in mind that in 2012 I wasn’t really an avid food-eater. Fast-forward 2 years, and the amount of money that I’ve spend on food is pretty shameful (my poor poor wallet). I still think that Church St has a lot of overrated mid-priced food but it's slowly evolving into more of a food hub. 

Without further ado...
So to celebrate the end of my exams plus the belated birthdays of my mum’s and myself, I finally decided to take this opportunity to go here. My only other experience of Courtney’s Brassiere is through their Friday market stalls, read about it here. If you cannot be bothered to read that post then just keep in mind that this place always changes their menu based on what's in produce. So when we were there they were doing a French menu and we opted for the tasting menu - 6 courses for $82

Baguette avec Beurre de Truffe
Baguette with truffle butter
In keeping with the French theme, the bread of choice for a starter would of course be a baguette right. The bread was wonderfully crisp but not overly hard or chewy. I find that truffles generates so much excitement within me (it's also truffle season)- maybe that is because I adore Coco Chanel's famous quote, 'The best things in life are first free, second expensive', and she was one very wise woman. The butter had truffle specks folded through and you could definitely taste the difference, it was so incredibly light without the heavy butter taste if that makes sense. 

Complements from the chef
Chargrilled octopus with tomato basil and eschalot (or shallot)

I always love it when you get some complementary sides, it makes one feel so spoilt (insert Coco Chanel quote as above. 

Cerveaux d'agneau, avec abats de veau, truffe fromage de tete et oignons au vinaigre et gelée de pomme et brioche croute
Lamb & Pickled Pork Brawn with Pickled Onion Apple Jelly, Apple Salad & Toast

I think the highlight of this one is the salad; I am seriously falling in love with pickled onions. I cannot wait to go to a deli to hunt for these because I will snack on this as badly as I snack on my gherkins. I found that the salad had a great crunch to it and the dressing went well with it, it was kind of sweet but had a good kick.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like my savories cold? I know it’s weird but for some reason I find that cold stuff tastes so much better, sure you may raise the argument that hot food is comforting in winter but because I am ridiculously lazy, at times I cannot be bothered to cook, so if I can eat stuff straight from the fridge then I can still maintain my couch potato lifestyle at home. So with all that out there, you probably now have an idea as to how much I appreciated their jelly, my mum told me that I’m going to love North China and their cold foods (minus any food poisoning scares) so I cannot wait to eat my way through China. I loved the jelly, I mean just look at the yummy pork pieces held in suspension. I’m not sure what purpose the toasted bread served; perhaps it’s a French thing. Presentation wise I did feel that this was a bit awkward especially the toast in how it was stacked like what a kid would do, I'll excuse the jelly because that would be hard to present wonderfully.

Salad Nicoise
Nicoise Salad- Seared Tuna, Roasted Peppers, Potato, (Sun-dried) Tomato, Quail Eggs, Anchovies, Olive & Beans

This one was my favourite and I absolutely adore my salad nicoise because it one has seared tuna (drools) and two it is so colourful and being such a versatile dish there are so many flavour combinations to explore. Tuna was lovely, just simply melt in your mouth. I would have rather different green since I'm not too fond of uncooked beans since I'm not a fan of that raw taste you get. I found this dish to be really quirky and that's probably why I loved it so much because never have I been so surprised when eating. The fried stick looking thing (reminds me of those cheese twists) are actually anchovies- yeah you should be shocked as well- how they made it so deceptive looking is beyond me they tasted pretty damn good. The potatoes were also cut out rather cutely. All in all I enjoyed each element so I would definitely have this one again should it make another appearance on the menu. This dish also had the best presentation as well.

Saucisse de fruits de mer avec pommes sautées et salade aux agrumes
Seafood Sausage with Sautéed Potato & Citrus Salad 

This was another enjoyable entree (I say this because of what's about to come), the seafood sausage was not really the sausage that I initially thought of which is great because I have a bad impression of sausages. It was super tender, though I'm really curious as to what meat they used. The potatoes were also the same as that of the dish because, I guess it is being practical and making the most of the ingredients at hand. I especially liked the citrus salad particularly because they used pickled onions (I have seriously fallen in love with this) and for some reason I didn't mind the limes, grapefruit and orange pieces as as salad component. Though that said, we did have to wait 30min for this arrive and I wasn't too pleased about this. I think that the timing of the meals was a real let down,  the whole meal took as long if not longer than my meal at Est. and that had more courses. 

Poitrine de faisan sous vide avec Ballotine et a la truffe et puree de panais, tarte a l'échalote et sauce au foie
Sous Vide Pheasant Breast, Truffle Ballotine, Parsnip Puree, Shallot tart & Liver Sauce 

There was also another long wait for this one though not as long as the one before, I found that this meal was one poorly executed and two poorer presented. I don't think there is anything positive that I can say about the presentation, the sauce was simply a mess with barely any for you to use (insert my Manu moment when I'm asking for the sauce). The shallot tart was not really a tart and it didn't look all that appetising, but the taste wasn't bad because I liked the caramelising of the shallots but the 'tart' component was just puff pastry which didn't really take any form- it was just a circular disk. I loved their parsnip puree the most because the pheasant wasn't that great. So sous vide is gaining momentum as a cooking technique where meat is cooked in a bag to ensure that it is all cooked through without overcooking the outside. I'm told that pheasant is supposed to be quite tender and has a certain distinct 'wild' taste to it. The strange 'taste' was there but our pheasants were both rather tough; tough to the point that I wanted to request for a different knife because I had difficulty cutting through it. I'm also not sure what the truffle ballotine is meant to be because I couldn't find any truffle.

Cuissot de chevreuil roti avec puree de celeri, betterave, bacon et pommes a la sauce calvados
Roasted Venison Denver Leg, Celeriac Puree, Baby Beetroot, Bacon Roasted, Apple and Calvados Sauce.

My second venison, first at Est, this time I asked for it to be done medium. After having venison twice now, it really is a meat that you either love or hate and unfortunately I don't like it unless it is cocoa crusted. Venison, like pheasant, has this distinct 'wild' taste to it and I feel that having the cocoa there at least masks it so you don't have this unpleasant aftertaste. Presentation was definitely a lot better than the previous one, at least it was more well-thought out. Puree and sauce were my favourites, I'm a big fan of apple in savouries dishes so I really enjoyed those dollops of this apple puree (though not really a puree just not sure what to call it).

Dessert Platter- Having seen someone have a soufflé, I was praying that I could also get a soufflé as well as part of the dessert platter. Alas, that was not to be and instead I was given fairly ordinary desserts. I love my desserts and I want to be amazed not go 'Oh I should have dessert elsewhere'.

From top to bottom: 
Fume gateau au chocolat avec de la creme de marrons et cognac
Smoked Chocolate Cake with Chestnut Cream and Cognac

Creme Brûlée 

Gateau de frangipane aux coings poches et pruneaux macères 
Almond Cake with Poached Quine & Macerated Dried Plums

Starting from the top, I enjoyed the smoke chocolate cake the most, the smoke taste to it was definitely there though I found it to be rather overpowering. I wished that they would have toned down on the smoked taste because sadly after a few small bites, I could eat no more. The mousse on the side was nice but the chestnut cream was placed on the other end so when I was eating it I had no idea what to eat the cream with. 

The creme brûlée was okay, and because of the small sizing I was able to finish it all so that was good. 

Blame it on my young age but I didn't really appreciate the almond cake. It is something that I would have at home or a cafe but certainly not in a fine dining restaurant. I mean it wasn't bad but it's not a dessert that I'm going to remember nor will it draw me back here.

Great start with wonderful entrees but the timing of the meals really let them down. Presentation of the mains and execution particularly of the pheasant wasn't great and the desserts was rather luck laster. This place is a great alternative to the hyped places of Church St but perhaps they could be more competitive price wise especially because in comparison to their city counterparts there is a lot of room for improvement.

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  1. I was really surprised by how swish it was when I ate here but I agree that sometimes it felt a little more like style over substance.

  2. Thanks for your comment Helen, I found that those who were dining that night had to wait a while as well.



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