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.
24 Russell Street, Melbourne
Ph: 9207 7424