Dining out in Montauban – La Table Des Capucins

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La Table des Capucins was my second Michelin star experience in a week, so it’s difficult not to be complacent about how I describe the experience. It differed greatly from Jules Verne as it lacked the ceremony of being in the Eiffel Tower, and it was a more relaxed atmosphere.

We got the set menu with matching wines, so forgive me if the descriptions of the latter dishes become a bit less detailed – I was pretty hazy by the end of the meal!

We started with confit of foie gras with a red wine jelly. It was quite good, but a little tasteless – very fatty without enough seasoning to cut through it. The red wine jelly was a great accompaniment to the richness of the foie gras, however.

The next dish was a lobster with truffle and a citrus salad, in a cold gelled vegetable broth. This was my favorite dish, with fresh, clean favors of citrus, coriander, and surprisingly, mint and Thai basil. All the components, including the broth, married very well with the lobster. I thought the truffle was unnecessary as it didn’t have the rich deliciousness I associate with truffle, and it was dry and had the texture of a shiitake mushroom. It just didn’t work.

The following dish was delicious: seafood ravioli with tomato-infused foam, olives and mussels, which was again garnished with truffle. This dish was also a fresh flavour and the foam was deliciously intense. Again, the truffle was unnecessary. There was also a lavender garnish on this dish that was inedible, and I am of the belief that nothing should be on your plate that you can’t eat – but maybe that’s just my greedy self.

The next dish was turbot served with truffles and a veal reduction. I was a little dubious about a veal condiment being served with the fish but the result was surprisingly excellent. The only issue was the truffles- truffle again! So unnecessary.

The final savoury dish was veal with a veal throat gland and marinated capsicum and onions. I know, right? Throat glands don’t sound particularly appetising but the veal was perfectly melt-in-your-mouth cooked, the veal jus was very tasty and the tender throat gland went very well with the main cut of veal on the dish, along with the acidic vegetables. The gland had a cooked liver-like texture to it that I couldn’t hack after awhile however, and neither could my fellow diners – except Dad, of course. He ended up with four glands on his plate (and was most proud of himself for finishing off the lot).

The dessert was a selection of strawberry parfait, a chocolate mousse cake with chocolate noisettes and a strawberry tart with chestnut ice cream. There were also almond chocolate friands and strawberry macarons to accompany the dessert. All were delicious – the parfait fresh and light, the mousse rich and deliciously crunchy with noisettes, and the tart the right balance of tangy and sweet that went incredibly well with the creamy nuttiness of the chestnut ice cream. The macarons were delicusly chewy and tangy and sweet and light all at once, and the friands moist and buttery and fudgy. Yummeh.

The matching wines were okay without being amazing, but were well-matched to the dishes. They came from many different areas of France, and there was a Spanish white to go with the lobster. I wouldn’t recommend drinking every single drop though, if you want to function the next day.

The service was lovely and like Jules Verne, accommodated my brother’s gluten intolerance admirably. Try and learn a little French before you attend this restaurant, however, as only a few waiters speak English here in the town of Montauban.

In comparison to Jules Verne, the food wasn’t as good or imaginative, which is a bit disappointing as I found Jules Verne not as innovative as Melbourne restaurants to begin with. That said, it seems the approach to food here is much more traditional and far less cosmopolitain and trendy, which is what characterises the food culture in Melbourne.

I felt that this restaurant tried to pander too much to the high-end dining stereotype, smothering all of its food in truffle shavings – which was even more unforgivable as the truffle wasn’t particularly flavoursome or good quality. That said, the alfresco dining space was friendly and fun and we had a very good time, whereas at Jules Verne you felt you had to behave because, well, you were sitting inside the Eiffel Tower.

Following my two Michelin star experiences, I’ve got to say I’m mighty proud of how Melbourne has progressed in its cuisine. We have managed to take all of our influences – Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, to name a few – and create food that can hold its own among the more traditionally prestigious international foodie cultures.

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