Friday, 15 February 2013

The Little Snail, Darling Harbour

The first time I went to The Little Snail I was about ten and it was my first encounter with French food. The restaurant was glamorous, there was a pianist playing live music, white table cloths and very classy food. Unfortunately and disappointingly, years later, only the white table cloths still exist. 

My mother gave my partner a voucher for a three course dinner for two with a cocktail each. The three courses would usually cost $59.00 per person and a cocktail at $15.00 each. I am so glad we had this voucher that is saved us 53% of the original value because that is exactly how much the food and experience at the restaurant was worth. 

French cocktail punch
Since we were told the cocktails were worth $15.00, we assumed we would be able to choose from the cocktail list (as they had the same price). But this was not the case. Before we have even looked at the menu , the waitress brings us two glasses of French cocktail punch (which they usually sell by the jug). I don't drink alcohol so I ask for them to exchange it with a mocktail. My partner tells me that his supposed "cocktail" simply tastes like bottled orange juice with the subtlest hint of alcohol. Though all the cocktails on their menu claim they are fresh. It is not possible that we would pay $15.00 for this. 

French mocktail punch
My mocktail is also bottled orange juice but with a splash of what I think is cranberry syrup at the bottom of the glass. I struggle drinking this and prefer my glass of water instead. The restaurant is actually quite busy as there are large groups of diners throughout the floor.  But I also see many of them getting given the "French cocktail punch" which indicates they have been led here with a voucher.

Salmon Roulade, filled with light cream cheese, served with potato nest and passionfruit dressing
Presentation is great, it looks refreshing and appetising. The smoked salmon is fine and the light cream cheese is a classic combination. But the two are quite rich and the potato nest helps cut through it a bit with its crispiness. The salad leaves are a bit pointless and it would probably be better without them. I don't enjoy the passionfruit dressing because it's neither sweet nor savoury and does not resemble passionfruit. A citrus accompaniment may have been a better option. 

Bouillabaisse de Marseille - Traditional French seafood soup of mussels, fish fillets and prawns, cooked in tomato and seafood broth, served with garlic baguette  

All the seafood is cooked perfectly. The mussels aren't too chewy, the fish fillets melt in your mouth and the prawns have a good bite to them. But the seafood and the soup lack in seasoning. The broth have all the components but is bland. The garlic baguette is crunchy and is garlicky.  

Loin of lamb, with wilted spinach, maple glazed pomme boulanères and thyme jus
I actually quite enjoy this dish but perhaps it's because the lamb tastes like beef. The presentation, the way the lamb has been sliced and the dark jus all point to the direction that I am eating beef. The meat is drowned with the thyme jus and I am unable to taste any of its original flavour. The maple glazed pomme boulanères is great, buttery and the thin slices of potato is cooked perfectly. The wilted spinach is well seasoned and has creaminess. 

Côte de Veau - veal tenderloin with champignon and chardonnay beurre blanc, served with potato croquette and seasonal green 
When my partner's côte de veau comes out, it is far from what we're expecting. Our first impression is that it looks like a beef stroganoff. The champignon and chardonnay beurre blanc tastes more like a mushroom gravy than a buttery impulsion. The veal is not a piece of tenderloin as the menu indicates. Instead, there are three thin pieces of overly tenderised veal that has been beaten with a meat mallet by an over-enthusiastic chef. There was no point in the waitress asking how we wanted the meat to be cooked because there was no thickness in the meat for it to not be well-done. The potato croquette had a crispy batter but a sour mashed potato filling. The seasonal broccoli tasted bland and raw.
Handmade profiteroles with creme patisserie and mint chocolate sauce
I was misled to believe I would be receiving more than one profiterole for dessert. My profiterole looks sad on the plate. First off, the chocolate garnish is not tempered chocolate but a piece of nostalgic Ice Magic art. The whipped cream on top of my profiterole is split. SPLIT!? How can they have served that? I am unimpressed, it tastes like sweet mush. The choux pastry of the profiterole is soggy and barely edible. Inside is filled with confectionary custard that is glumpy and over sweetened. The mint chocolate sauce does not play a role in helping this dessert taste better. The mint component is neither here nor there. 

Classic crème caramel
The crème caramel is smooth, eggy and sweet. My partner is suspicious that these are store bought ready-made products because they're unusually perfect. The caramel syrup should be darker because if it's been in the oven, it would have darkened and caramelised. It should have a hard caramel top, but it doesn't. Instead, it has the same consistency as the rest of the custard. The base has a firmer texture compared to the rest, which possibly suggests the custard has been made long ago and has been sitting in a container, ready to be served. I give them the benefit of the doubt that the crème caramel has been made in the kitchen because serving store bought products is unacceptable, especially at a high end French restaurant. 

I now believe how important a dessert is. It is the finale to the whole meal and the last thing a diner eats and remembers before they leave the restaurant. The Little Snail was a disappointment, non-recommendable and we will never return. For those who are curious, their entrees are reasonable and their famous escargot are still popular and desirable. But a word of warning, I wouldn't go without a Groupon voucher.  

The Little Snail
50 Murray St 

9212 7512

Little Snail on Urbanspoon

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