PM 24

As a special three-way birthday treat to ourselves, Jen, Em and I decided to splurge and have ourselves a lingering lunch at PM 24. Because of course that is the proper way to go about birthdays, with lavish French food.

PM 24 is well fancy, as you would expect. I was quite nervous on sighting the black and white tiled floors, tasteful wood furniture and charming actually-French waiters that this was going to turn into a rather expensive outing. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that lunch at PM 24, while not being something you could conceivably afford to do every week, is actually quite good value for the quality of the food you experience.

For the meaty aspects of this meal that were enjoyed by Em and Jen, you can have a look over at Em’s blog Enjoy Eat Watch, where she goes through our visit in detail. I’ll just be focusing on the vegie specifics.

First we were all offered a complimentary starter, a pumpkin veloute. This was essentially a neat little pot of very high-quality pumpkin soup with a crown of cream or perhaps creme fraiche, and scatterings of chives and croutons. Delightfully smooth and bursting with flavour for such a wee thing, it did what a starter should do and got us all very excited for what was following.

Our shared proper starter was the cheese and Jerusalem artichoke souffle with sauce fondue. I quite comprehensively lost my mind over this one. The feeling of sinking your spoon into the souffle was like the sensation of cutting through water, it was that unbelievably light. Not so light was the accompanying cheesy fondue sauce, which I kept grabbing ever more spoonfuls of while cackling manically (this is a thing with me, apparently, whenever I’m liking a dish too much I just start wildly laughing, go figure). Oh Jerusalem artichokes, I love your earthy, buttery flavour so much, I wish you weren’t such a bother to prepare otherwise I’d cook with you all the time.

My main dish was the pumpkin agnolotti with mushroom fumet and candied walnuts. Crowned with a fuzz of foam, the pasta encasing the pumpkin filling was delicately tender, and all the other flavours involved were surprisingly gentle, from the sweet tang of the soft walnuts to the woody hum of the mushrooms, all building into a tremendously well-balanced dish that creeps up on you in a savoury crescendo.

Of course there had to be potatoes in the mix somewhere, and being a French restaurant we had to go with the pommes frites with parmesan and rosemary. These were fiercely crispy on the outside, yet still moist and fluffy within, a very more-ish ship. My only complaint for basically the whole meal is that the rosemary wasn’t very apparent at all here.

I also ordered the cauliflower gratin, which was probably going too far in terms of ‘things drenched in cheese sauce’. It was lovely, but I would recommend choosing either it or the souffle, not both in one sitting!

I also filched quite a few of Jen’s side of green beans threaded through with sauteed leek (Jen seems to be constantly compelled to order anything that features green beans when we eat together, a habit that I’m all for encouraging). These were beautiful, the beans achingly fresh, the leek all translucently golden winding its way around the beans. I gobbled up probably far to many of these than I should have, sorry Jen!

We were completely stuffed by this point, but then the charmingly French waiter came by wafting a tray of cakes under our noses, and really that’s just cruel because I certainly have no self-control upon the sighting of cake. We ended up deciding to share a square of chocolate mousse between us. Extra charmingly, when the plate with the mousse came out the waiter had written “Happy birthday!” in chocolate sauce cursive on it. Awwwww! The mousse had a thick layer of raspberry struck through it’s middle, and the sweet-tartness of it added a touch of fruity relief to the richness of the chocolate.

What a feast! Throughout I drank a nice hefty glass of Eric Bordelet cider, a sweetly refreshing French (of course) fizz which, if I hadn’t of been driving, I would have liked to have had a lot more of.

Obviously PM 24 isn’t the sort of place you could eat at every day. You’d die from cheese sauce overindulgence for starters. But for a special occasion or when you have a craving for French food done simply and well without too many curveballs at a price that doesn’t delve too deeply into your pockets, you should be well satisfied. Make sure to wear your stretchy pants.

PM 24

24 Russell Street, Melbourne

Ph: 9207 7424

www.pm24.com.au

Madame Sousou

Back when Muffin and I were on the way to go to Peko Peko, we got on the wrong tram and ended up on Brunswick Street instead of Smith Street (Hayley! How did this happen?! You’ve been living in Melbourne all your life and can’t even differentiate between the 112 and 86 trams? FAIL. GIANT, EMBARRASSING FAIL). Realising our mistake, we decided to walk the few blocks down to Smith Street and scrambled off the tram… right in front of Madame Sousou.

Immediately drawn to the warmly lit windows, I peered in… and was completely swept away by a haze of romanticism. It looked like someone had uplifted the most  picture perfect cosy Parisian restaurant and incongruously plopped it in Fitzroy. Or at least what I wished a Paris restaurant would look like (Paris and I had ISSUES. No, I don’t want to talk about it).

“Hayley, you’re about to get run over, get off the street!” I had been so enthralled by this dream vision that I’d stopped stock still in the middle of the street and Muffin feared I would die.

“Muffin, Muffin,” I babbled, hands flailing. “We totally have to go to that place sometime. That place there!”

“Yes, yes,” Muffin said, taking me by the elbow and guiding me away. “But first we should make sure that you live to eat anywhere.” This is why we are faux-lesbian life mates, she takes care of me.

But in the end I ended up not going to Madame Sousou with Muffin at all, but with The Boy, reneging on our epic love! I AM REVEALED TO BE FALSE AND INCONSTANT, FORGIVE ME, DEAR MUFFIN (Fun fact: Apparently Muffin’s mum reads this blog. Hello, Muffin’s mum!).

Now, Madame Sousou isn’t cheap. She’s a classy lady, and an expensive one, too. Much more expensive than me and The Boy were really expecting for our quiet Sunday dinner, but hey, we should all indulge on occasion.

(Incidentally, Madame Sousou has a terribly nice business card. Nerdy hobbies relevation: I like collecting the business cards from cafes and restaurants, they’re pleasing things. Madame Sousou’s might be my favourite, except maybe for one from The European that’s all white and EMBOSSED and reminds me of that scene in American Psycho. “Look at that subtle off-white colouring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!”)

The Boy was utterly overwhelmed by all of the deliciously described dishes. He wavered all over the menu, like a flitting hummingbird undecided as to which blossom might contain the best treat. I was similarly flighty, plotting in my head what would give me a filling meal for the best price. The waitress was enormously patient with us, and dealt marvelously with The Boy’s indecision especially. She went through each of the dishes with such enthusiasm and obvious love for the food, and won over The Boy with her recommendation of the mussels. “I don’t even like mussels ordinarily,” she said, leaning in to us conspiratorily. “But these are just so wonderful.”

As for me, I ended up going with the cep and pea risotto, teamed with a very nice German riesling. The risotto was rich and filling, the peas popping with freshness, and was just the thing I needed. The Boy wouldn’t stop talking about the amazingness of the mussels in their creamy sauce (and I wouldn’t stop stealing the potato frites that accompanied his meal).

What made the meal, though, was the dessert, tarte tatin. This, this was not a mere dish of nutrients cobbled onto a plate. This was ART. Perfectly caramelised pastry and poached pears, with a dome of ice cream on top and a drizzling of honey (there was something special about the honey, lord knows if I can remember what. Magic bees, maybe? Let’s go with that. MAGIC BEES!). Honestly, I can’t remember enjoying a dessert so much in a long while; The Boy was lucky I didn’t grab our shared dish and gobble the whole thing while hissing “Mine!”

Madame Sousou is the perfect place for that special evening where you want to be nice and cosy with your beloved and whisper sweet French nothings into their shell-like ear. Or, if you’re me, it’s the perfect place to go any time, to sit back in a corner with a glass of wine and tarte tatin… just don’t expect me to share next time!

Madame Sousou

231 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Ph: 9417 0400