It was stop number 9 on a day full of eating crepes, drinking coffee and one massage break in between. For our food challenges we always try to find a great place to end on and this one proved a challenge. Few fine dining French restaurants have crepes as the dessert but we found Chez Maurice et Linda on Balgowlah's Sydney Road.
A table was booked at 8:30pm for that evening. Unless you book at least 2 weeks in advance you'd be lucky to get an early table as the patronage at this stalwart French restaurant is loyal and they love to eat early. The restaurant was first open an astounding 30 years ago. Bordeaux born Maurice Magneron opened up three restaurants on the North Shore. His resume included the Hotel Ritz and L’Ancien Rustique in Paris. He then passed the reins to chef Michael Hong and his wife Jessica upon his retirement in 2012. Michael worked at Kables and Astral in Sydney.
The restaurant is BYO only and the crowd is a little older. Service is friendly although we are initially asked to wait outside for 5 minutes when we first arrive but another waiter comes to get us telling us that it's too cold to wait outside.
There is a choice of a 2 course or a 3 course menu ($49.90 and $58.90 respectively) and we decide to go for 2 courses and share dessert because by the end of the meal we will have spent 12 hours eating.
First there is a complimentary serve of pate and toast points. The chicken liver pate is delicious with just the right balance of flavours and the thin toast points are very cute indeed.
Sizzling snails out of the shell in garlic butter
Viggo chooses the snails and they come out piping hot in some parsley garlic butter. Sliced bread is also furnished to mop up every little trace of the butter from the crevices.
French onion soup
I only have eyes for the French onion soup. The deceptively deep bowl providing just the right amount of warming on a chilly edged evening. There is plenty of soft onion and melted gruyere strings to delight.
Pancake with seafood, smoked salmon, egg and dill, topped with Béarnaise sauce & black caviar
Our main purpose here is to try the crepes and they have a sweet and savoury crepe on the menu. The savoury one is filled with mussels, fish and prawns and is served with a bearnaise sauce and black caviar. The crepe is thin and eggy but well made and the seafood succulent and well cooked but the bearnaise does tend to dominate the flavour of the dish.
Panfried lamb brains with garlic and parsley
My choice is the lambs brains. I know brains aren't for everyone (and warning don't eat them if you have high cholesterol). I really love brains for their creamy texture and this is paired with a garlic and parsley butter and crunchy crumbs which is very moreish. Alas not everyone wanted to try these.
Braised duck in orange and Grand Marnier sauce
Timing for courses is good and it probably helps that we are the only late table eating. The duck is their specialty and it is a large serve of half a duck, soft and tender with an orange and Grand Marnier sauce, strong in Grand Marnier. I prefer the sauce a little sweeter but it's a generous portion.
Char grilled fillet of beef served with Béarnaise sauce
Viggo and I really felt like steak and this is a good main, with tender beef and bearnaise sauce. The mains come with a generous side of vegetables including potatoes, green beans and cherry tomatoes.
Roast rack of lamb served with a garlic and cheese mashed potato
My favourite main however is the roast rack of lamb which is served with a wonderfully rich, sticky sauce and a serve of garlic and cheese mashed potato. The lamb cutlets are so juicy and succulent and worth picking up with the fingers to get every little morsel.
Fish of the day served with lemon & tartar sauce
We were dithering what to get for our last main and when we heard that the fish of the day is John Dory we order that. It's such a buttery textured fish and it is given the best, simple treatment. Just pan fried and served with lemon and tartar sauce.
Side vegetables that accompany the mains
Poached pear served on a warm chocolate sauce with vanilla ice cream
One or two desserts? We saw the pear come past and it was so striking we had to order it. I actually don't usually like pears and chocolate sauce (I prefer pears poached in red wine) so this was more for Louise who wanted it. Don't mess with a pregnant woman and her cravings ;).
Pancakes flamed with Grand Marnier served with vanilla ice cream
The crepes suzette comes out with a flourish as our waiter flambees it at the table. It's surprisingly strong in Grand Marnier which thoroughly pleases Viggo.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a favourite classic restaurant that has been around for decades? And do you enjoy eating brains?
This meal was independently paid for.
Chez Maurice et Linda
292 Sydney Rd., Balgowlah NSW 2093
Phone: (02) 9949 4155
Open Sunday to Thursday 6-10pm, Friday & Saturday 6-11pm