“Bonjour mademoiselle”. From the moment we’re greeted at Nedlands stalwart, Chez Pierre, I know we are in safe hands. The restaurant is the embodiment of French sophistication, without any of the infamous Parisian attitude. The professional waitstaff are good humoured, and warmly show us to our seats, never skipping a beat with menus or drinks.
Since opening in 2007, Chez Pierre Perth has amassed a loyal local following. Chef and owner Pierre Ichallalene honed his craft at the famed Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in France. He has hospitality in his blood, with his parents running popular Perth eateries of days gone by; Hilite 33, Pierre’s Garden Restaurant and Mandurah’s Jolly Frog.
I’m surprised to find the swanky, white tableclothed dining room is filled on this mid-week lunch time. The menu is jam-packed with all the French favourites —escargot for the adventurous, duck l’orange for the nostalgic, soufflé for the cheese lovers, and foie gras (goose liver) for the decadent. While some dishes are firmly planted in the old school, much of the menu is classically French, which never goes out of style.
A concise wine list offers both French and Australian drops. While a fruity Pemberton Picardy Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc isn’t European, it has been well matured in French oak barrels.
We start lunch with no ordinary baguette – it’s imported from France. Creamy Normandy butter melts into the soft, warmed bread, complete with crisp crust. The attentive waitstaff come by with an inobtrusive feather-like touch placing cutlery and topping up glasses.
I just have to indulge in an entrée of escargots ($16.50 half dozen). I’m pleasantly surprised by the mushroom-like texture of the Burgundy sourced snails, cooked in their shells, and smothered in a garlic herb butter. Well worth the garlic breath!
Ultra-fresh steak tartare ($24.50) is straight out of a Parisian bistro. Finely cut Harvey beef fillet has a solid kick from capers, mustard, cornichons, shallots, parsley, and vinegar. Topped with an egg yolk, the tartare is delicious smothered on garlic toast. We can’t get enough of the fresh, honest flavours.
A main of La bœuf bourguignon ($41) is French peasant food at its best. Tender beef cheeks are slow braised in red wine, along with sautéed lardons, shallots, mushrooms and heirloom carrots. A rich burgundy wine sauce is soaked up by creamy pomme puree (extra buttery mash potato). Perfect comfort food.
The retro confit de canard sauce à l’orange ($39.50) aka duck à l’orange, is an homage to classic French cookery. A confit duck leg, slow cooked in duck fat over 8 hours, is packed with flavour. The tender duck meat is served with a creamy pomme puree, and a lonely orange glazed baby heirloom carrot. I’d like to see more vegetables on the mains, though traditionally French dishes are light. The dish is finished with a sweet orange and grand marnier sauce, which is balanced to perfection and sings alongside the duck. The pièce de resistance.
Onto dessert, and we order delightfully light Profiteroles au Chocolat ($17). The house-made choux pastry profiteroles are filled with French vanilla ice-cream topped with a rich dark chocolate sauce, crème anglaise (light custard) and toasted shaved almonds. Oo La la.
A slice of Opera Cake has delicate layers of hazelnut, biscuit, coffee and chocolate ganache. Only a small slice of the rich gâteau is needed, especially when served with espresso butter cream, crème anglaise and ice cream.
Francophiles should take advantage of Chez Pierre’s lunch set menu; 2 courses for $55 or 3 courses for $59. That’s incredibly good value.
Over the last two years, we have only been able to travel via our tastebuds. I certainly felt like I was in a Paris brasserie all over again. We can get caught up in hype around new restaurant openings, but there will always be room for a little old-school hospitality in Perth. Merci beauoup Chez Pierre.
Chez Pierre – At a Glance
■ Chez Pierre
131 Stirling Highway, Nedlands
Phone 9386 5886
■ Opening times
Lunch – Wed to Fri, 12pm till 2.30pm
Dinner– Tue to Sat, 6pm till late
value for money 4
■ style – French
■ wine – Both quality French and
Australian wines feature, as well
as a selection of French Cognac.
■ Chef – Simon Page
Owner – Pierre Ichallalene
■ feel – classy interior,
relaxed fine dining.
■ wheelchair access – yes
■ cost –
Entrée – $16.50 to $38
Mains – $36.50 to $46
Dessert – $14.50 to $36.50
■ all in all – Nedlands favourite Chez
Pierre is the go-to for a French food fix.
Food is flavoursome and cooked with
classic technique. Service is five star.