15 February 2011

Claude's: French and Modern Australian, Woollahra (14 Feb 2011)

10 Oxford Street, Woollahra NSW 2035
Phone: (02) 9331 2325

Dining behind closed doors

Valentine’s Day was pretty much a full house at Claude's with only couples to be seen dining downstairs and in the smaller upstairs room. I’ve always been curious to know what lies behind the locked door entered via doorbell — sometimes you can catch a sneaky glimpse through the window if the blinds are left slightly open. The service must be commended for being friendly and professional helping diners feel welcomed. The décor is mostly shades of white with some small highlights of colours so as to not distract you away from the food I guess and perhaps the one you’re sitting opposite engrossed in intimate conversation. The music is nicely set to the right volume as background music rather than being too noticeable. Peering into the clean looking kitchen on the way to the two well maintained unisex toilets through the back passageway is surprising quiet, even more so than the somewhat restrained atmosphere of the dining rooms. Although, it’s funny noticing the increase in speaking volume once the diners have had a few drinks from the Wine Flight ($85) to match their special Tasting Menu ($165) and hence the atmosphere becomes a little more relaxed and conducive to conversation. My only ergonomics gripe is my usual pet hate of table supports no allowing your feet to sit flat due to the table support obstruction, which only applies to the small tables here.

To start the Spiced Cucumber Broth is served cold but packs a wicked flavour kick. The Prawn Kromeski is tiny so it’s hard to fully appreciate the flavours in them but it’s served with an excellent curry salt that provides a wonderful tasty lift. The Spanner Crab, Soy Bean & Omelette is served with super crispy slithers of perfection but the spanner crab is sadly hardly noticeable and seems somewhat disguised amongst the dish. A cute slice of Lamb Pie with Bitter Leaf Green is served lukewarm but side ingredients were flavoursome and the dish seemed to get better when matched with the 2009 Wenzel Furmint. The Soufflé a la Suissesse with Black Truffle is smooth, creamy and decadent and matched with a very nice 2008 Garnier Chablis although I’m still unable to appreciate the true taste of truffle which is unnoticeable on my palate. This dish reminds of the fond memories of the Cheese Soufflé from Tabou. The matching 2008 Garnier Chablis is very quaffable.

Breast of Roast Aylesbury Duck is small although one of the richer tasting dishes. Flavours seemed to work together but it was a shame my slice of duck had a sinewy bit which refused to be cut by my knife, I guess it happens. The matching 2007 Ch. Nardou Cotes de Francs was changed to a lovely drop of well chosen Pinot Noir. I enjoyed the well-executed Peppered Angus Fillet with spiced tomatoes and crispy onion rings. The flavours all seemed to work well together although you couldn’t really say it had a special wow factor. I really enjoyed the smooth matching 2008 Staete Landt Syrah until my dining companion mentioned it’s bouquet was a bit too similar to sniffing a texta — actually there was a bit of truth to this but I wouldn’t have thought this if it wasn’t mentioned. A $25 supplement gets you A Course of Cheese matched with a very nice Peel Estate Vintage Quattro which was similar to port. The two cheeses were apparently from Coeur du Jura(?), Jura and Langres, Champagne. The Coeur du Jura was perhaps too small to appreciate its true flavour but the slightly larger sized piece of Langres cheese was richly flavoured and creamy. I prefer when cheese is served on its own with a slice of bread or wafer thin crisp cracker on the side and generally without fruit but the sweet crumble scattered around the plate added an interesting texture.

For dessert the Caramel Parfait, Champagne Truffle Ice was clearly one of my favourite dishes of the night. Well balanced flavours and delicate textures seemed to hit the right notes. The Chocolate Indulgence was nicely matched with a not too sweet 2007 Kracher Auslese Muscat. I much preferred the Caramel Parfait to the chocolate cake which for me was a bit dry and crumbly and for some reason I wasn’t too keen on the taste of the chocolate mousse but my dining partner really enjoyed it. Claude's is certainly one of those places you might be tempted to try if you have the money and it’s for a special occasion. I’d be curious to try their a la carte menu matched with some quality wines once funds replenish but there’s so many other restaurants still on my wish list before then.

PROS: Friendly and professional service, Interesting dishes, Quality ingredients, Quality wines, Nice ambient music, Very quiet and clean kitchen, Upstairs room more suitable for private function
CONS: Expensive, Awkward table stand position on smaller tables, Décor is understated and borders on a little sterile but I guess allows the dishes to stand out as the works of art, No dessert palate cleanser or coffee included
MUST TRY: Spiced Cucumber Broth & Prawn Kromeski, Caramel Parfait, Champagne Truffle Ice, 2008 Staete Landt Syrah

Pre drinks: Ruinart Champagne ($25 glass) — a nice albeit expensive way to start the night

Valentine's Day Tasting Menu ($165) + Wine Flight ($85)

Complimentary bread

Spiced Cucumber Broth & Prawn Kromeski

Spanner Crab, Soy Bean & Omelette
matched with 2009 Curebéasse Angelico Rosé, France

2009 Curebéasse Angelico Rosé, France

Lamb Pie with Bitter Leaf Green
matched with 2009 Wenzel Furmint, Austria

2009 Wenzel Furmint, Austria

Soufflé a la Suissesse, Black Truffle (served in half at the table)
matched with 2008 Garnier Chablis, France

2008 Garnier Chablis, France

Breast of Roast Aylesbury Duck
matched with 2007 Ch. Nardou Cotes de Francs, France changed to 2007 Savigny-Les-Beaune, Henri De Villamont, France

A bit of sinew challenges my knife cutting

2007 Savigny-Les-Beaune, Henri De Villamont, France

Peppered Angus Fillet
matched with 2008 Staete Landt Syrah, NZ

2008 Staete Landt Syrah, NZ

A Course of Cheese of Coeur du Jura, Jura and Langres, Champagne ($25 supplement)
matched with Peel Estate Vintage Quattro, WA

Peel Estate Vintage Quattro, WA

Caramel Parfait, Champagne Truffle Ice

Chocolate Indulgence
matched with 2007 Kracher Auslese Muscat, Austria

Chocolate cake a little on the dry and crumbly side for me

2007 Kracher Auslese Muscat, Austria

Petit fours but unfortunately no coffee included

Bill $480 for 2 people — definitely not an everyday dinner

Downstairs dining room

Glasses and decanters

A touch of art

Clean and well equipped looking kitchen

Side passageway past kitchen to the toilets

Unisex toilets

Hand towels — special touch

Upstairs kitchen and doorway to private dining room

Obstructing table support for feet — see Cafe Sydney for my preferred position

Outside street entrance — have a peak under the window blinds

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Claude's on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Too bad that the tiny portions didn't let you appreciate the flavours of some dishes.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi lateraleating, i'm actually OK with the small portions so you can try more dishes as long as they're full of defined flavour :-)

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