He’s back! Melbourne had mourned the absence of legendary French chef Philippe Mouchel after the closure of PM24 but now he has returned to the city with his own restaurant. In Melbourne at least Philippe Mouchel is in the Madonna category of only needing the one name, his new restaurant is simply called “Philippe”.
Located in what used to be Brooks it will be interesting to see if Philippe can achieve restaurant longevity in the basement restaurant just off Collins street which has seen high turnover over the years. The bar and open kitchen still dominate the dining room and tables are laid with white linen giving Philippe a special occasion feel.
This is old school Melbourne dining. None of that no booking nonsense instead lights are bright so you can see what you are eating and the noise level actually permits conversations. I decided to embrace tradition and start the meal with half a dozen super fresh oysters ($25) served simply with lemon and shallot vinegar.
Of course the return of Philippe means the return of the must order dish: the rotisserie chicken ($36). It’s made using half a Bannockburn chicken with the skin burnished and crispy and white meat tender. The chicken has a lovely lemon flavour enhanced by what can only be lashings of butter. This is one occasion when it’s worth breaking the general rule of not ordering roast chicken in a restaurant. If you can go past the chicken then Philippe’s classical French technique is evident in the soupe de poisson ($35). A fillet of rockling sits on top a creamy seafood risotto.
I finished the meal with the classic oh so French dessert of a floating island ($16) and a cheese selection. The floating island features pillowy meringue in a pool of rich creme anglais. However the cheese selection, which is described on the menu as “our trolley selection” ($20 for three cheeses), was disappointing. I spotted the cheese trolley and looked forward to having it wheeled over to select the cheese but sadly the trolley doesn’t do the rounds of the restaurant and you don’t get to pick your cheeses, instead you are served a small plate of cheese already pre sliced.
It was my only complaint in what was otherwise a fabulous dinner. The food at Phillppe is classic, understated and well executed and the restaurant has a real sense of old school hospitality about it. Welcome back Philippe Mouchel.