I decided to give Libertine in North Melbourne a try, for a number of reasons, but mainly because I’m making it a personal goal to try out more local places (we often overlook that which is in front of us!) – this restaurant is only a couple of km from my house, and it had caught my eye a couple of times when I’d walked into the city.
I suggested it for a girl’s night out, and Tic Tac and Dee agreed to give it a shot; it was our last dinner before Tic Tac left for a 2 month stint on Christmas Island for work, and for some odd reason we were all hankering for a nice fish dish. Our first choice was actually dinner at the Duchess of Spotswood – alas, I was devastated to hear that they no longer do dinners. Hence we found ourselves at this French dining room in North Melbourne.
We arrived to a fancier setting than expected – however, we relaxed when we realized the table next to us had 2 kids, and one even had his feet on the seat!
The decor – what can I say? Very French. The seating was a bit too stiff for my liking – Tic Tac and I managed to snag ourselves the booth seats, which were cushioned, but still very uncomfortable. I was eyeing Dee’s wooden chair enviously throughout the night, until she told me at the end that her butt cheek was numb, and had been for quite awhile.
The seasonal ala carte menu is split into entrees ($19), mains ($36), sides ($8.5), cheese ($9.5), and desserts ($15.5), followed by liquid desserts.
We were offered a small cup of carrot soup to start. Quite tasty.
We decided to share an entree – the special of the day:
Pork belly, walnut and blue cheese salad
The presentation was beautiful, as you can see; taste wise, I’m actually not a fan of blue cheese (don’t like the smell). The pork belly was not crispy, a little too fatty and oily for my taste. Best part of the dish was the walnuts, which says something about that pork belly...
Although Tic Tac and Dee were both eyeing the duck, we decided to try a different main each, with a side of Pommes Frites to share:
Steamed whiting & seared scallop, scallion cake, beurre d’épices
Roasted Daylesford duck breast, leg crépinette & sour cherries
Grilled Gippsland eye fillet, bone marrow & sauce persillée
I liked the whiting the best, although the scallops were a tad chewy; the scallion cake was nothing special. Ditto for the duck, which was a disappointment (tasted quite plain – maybe I’ve been spoilt with delicious crispy Asian roast duck). The eye fillet was tender, and the round potato gratin was well presented – perfect little round circles, thinly cut. The sauce was not amazing.
We did not order dessert. Now, anyone who knows me at all would know exactly how wrong (or unusual) that is. It wasn’t because I was too full – I was not.
Service was exceptionally slow that night – it appeared that there were only 3 waiters working there that (Saturday) night! But from what I could see – although there is an upstairs – there weren’t that many tables. Apart from our group of 3, there was a family of 8, 3 couples, and another group of 3.
Our menus took about 20 minutes to arrive at the table. It took another 30 minutes to place an order – the head waiter came and announced the specials for the day, saying he’ll give us a few more minutes to decide – and didn’t come back for what seemed like yonks.
When we had finished eating our mains, the 2 waitresses on duty passed our table numerous times, without clearing our plates...which were left to fester for at least 40 minutes after we were done. When the waiter finally offered dessert almost an hour later, we decided to skip – we might be there for another 2 hours otherwise! And with the quality of the food being quite mediocre to that point, I didn’t think it was worth the wait.
Overall, it was a disappointing venture. I would be hesitant to return.
Food – 5/ 10
Service – 4/ 10
Value for money – 5 / 10
OVERALL CONSENSUS: 2 bags (out of 5)