116 Rathdowne Street
Carlton VIC 3053
03 9347 7507
Open: Lunch Wed – Fri 12 – 3pm; Dinner everyday 6 – 11pm
Spontaneously deciding to go out for dinner on the second last Friday before Christmas can be quite a challenge! If restaurants aren’t booked out with functions – they’re booked out with people catching up with other people! What is it about Christmas? Well – we wanted to do exactly the same thing, but without the planning! That’s not too much to ask is it???
We wanted to go out with most excellent friends R & T - so, not to be thwarted, I rang around a few places and ended up getting a booking at Paris Go – which was great, because I had heard good things and had been meaning to try it for some time.
Upon arrival we were seated by our gracious hosts – first impressions were good as the service was friendly and personable. A classic French bistro – it has a lovely vibe. The restaurant has a very comfortable atmosphere, and manages to retain an intimate feel through the use of multiple rooms, one of which has a gorgeous pressed tin ceiling. It has an extensive menu, which is complemented by a blackboard full of specials.
The salmon tartare was one of the specials – and sounded delicious. I didn’t need much convincing, and although I was disappointed the steak tartare wasn’t available as an entrée, the salmon tartare sounded like a great consolation. It was so fresh – it had clearly been hand cut, and was served with a great mix of seasoning and condiments folded through it. The addition of a lime wedge enabled you to control the level of acidity and the toasts were just the right level of density and crispness – they weren’t croutons! Thankfully. Just gorgeous.
Now the lovely R could not make up her mind - which was quite the dilemma, until she spied the assiette froid - a mixture of three of the cold entrées. Clockwise from the top: chicken liver parfait, homemade duck terrine, and freshly cured ocean trout marinaded in dill, lemon and olive oil. This way, she got to taste a bit of everything.
Always interested in paté, I negotiated a taste in exchange for some of my salmon tartare. It was a little coarser than other patés around town, but it was full flavoured and balanced, and generously spread across some good toasted French baguette.
Not to be deterred by the fact that it was quite a warm December evening, Andrew ordered the French onion soup – apparently his devotion to this classic dish is not limited by the borders of the USA! He really loved it, and said that it had just the right amount of cheese on top! A great rendition of a French classic.
T decided to try the freshly cured ocean trout - the serve seemed to be a bit on the meagre side (and didn’t seem much larger than the serving R got on her assiete froid), but R pointed out, as she stole some of his lemon aioli – he got condiments on the side, which her assiete froid seemed to omit. Nonetheless, he seemed happy with it (the trout, not the freeloading) - and it disappeared quite quickly.
For our mains, both T and I decided to order the lamb special of the evening – pan roasted lamb fillet, served with jus, and just the right amount of mushroom risotto (actually, a little bit more would have been nice – but that just might have been gluttony). It was divine – the lamb was tender, the jus was full of flavour, and the risotto was starchy, creamy and mushroomy! All very good.
As I mentioned before – the steak tartare was only available as a main. That’s always a lot of raw meat for me – so I elected to pass (although I did make a fine effort of trying to convince R to share one with me for entrée!). On the plus side, however, R did decide to have it as her main – and promised to let me have a taste – yay!!
Now, I’m not sure I know enough about classic French cookery – but one thing that’s lacking in this version of the dish is the egg yolk on top. I love being able to break it open and mix it through the gently minced meat – it’s just one of life’s little pleasures. But alas – this one – no yolk!
And another thing that detracted from the dish was that the meat seemed a little over minced, even a little “liquified” - enough to make us think it had been through a food processer, rather than being hand cut into tiny cubes. Especially when you compared it with the texture of the salmon tartare, it appeared to have lost a bit of its integrity, and was a bit mushier than expected.
Despite these shortcomings – it did have a lovely flavour, and was seasoned well and had a good mix of condiments through it. R did acknowledge afterwards that it was a lot of raw meat – so perhaps it’s a dish best left to the die hard carnivore fans.
Not one to break with tradition, Andrew ordered steak and fries – this time in the form of a beautiful eye fillet, served with French fries, and a lovely jug of bearnaise sauce! Oh my goodness – does life get any better. Andrew was very pleased – all his favourite things! Although he did mention that the bearnaise sauce was a little tart, and could have been a bit more buttery. However, his fillet was tender and juicy!
At that stage, us girls decided to call it a night and forego desserts – but the boys were still feeling feisty and indulgent, and ordered one each. At which point, we ordered extra spoons.
Just for research purposes… you understand!
T ordered the chocolate brulée from the specials board - which was lovely and smooth and creamy and rich and dark – and the toffee on top was just the right thinness and had that lovely crack when you tap it. He got a bit excited and cracked it before a photo had been taken – that’s why it appears a bit damaged in the pic above!!
Andrew ordered the dark and white chocolate mousse – which was really lovely. It had a moist chocolate sponge layered within it, and was served simply with some cream and half a passionfruit. It was smooth and light – with just the right level of rich chocolately goodness.
All in all, it was a really great evening – with the only flaw in the service being that we never got those extra spoons (but we managed anyway).
On its website, Paris Go says that it’s a classic Gallic café – serving genuine old French favourites in a warm and stylish environment. It does exactly that – with responsive and friendly service, and just the right level of familiarity. It’s not a fine diner – but doesn’t claim to be. The food is good, honest and fresh, prepared in a timeless French style, served without pretension or arrogance. There’s a wide selection of traditional dishes on the à la carte menu, and it has a varied wine list.
Another great thing about it is that it’s BYO. We were very happy with the wines on offer – enjoying a lovely 2010 Pirie South Pinot Noir from Tasmania. But if you’ve got a special bottle, or even a regular favourite you’d prefer to bring along, it’s just $10 corkage at dinner time (less at lunch) – and you can have it with some beautiful French dishes. A real neighbourhood gem – go and enjoy. Bon appétit!