Long Luxurious Night at La Grillade Crows Nest

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Tucked away behind the Lower North Shore terrace, La Grillade has been the gourmet retreat for the social set and often the romantic dinner spot. This iconic venue is operated by husband and wife team, George and Ann. You may be familiar with this couple at The Little Snail  where French style cooking combined with friendly service meets personality and charm for each table.

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Such a cosy restaurant at La Grillade

Dining at La Grillade you will expect food as being exotic and sophisticated at realistic prices. For instance we opted for a set priced menu at $63 for 3 courses (for an entrée, main and dessert) with the full a la carte menu to choose from including snails and prime steaks, which are a key feature of La Grillade’s menu. But if you fancy something a little more meatier than it is your mission to order the 14 hrs slow cooked lamb shoulder for two (additional $20).

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What’s on the menu?

For entrée I was happily digging in to the platter of garlic-drenched escargots. The snails in the shell came in one dozen and sizzled in garlic parsley butter that may have overpowered the the red wine. My personal recommendation is to also order a few slices of plain bread so you can watch the puddle of butter and bread marry together like a edible sponge.

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Snails in the shell

I was busted for taking a small scoop of someone’s duck liver pate that contained green peppercorns, port jelly and croutons. That teeny tiny bowl of pate had us glancing at each other. Port jelly was one of my absolute favourite things. The flavours was sweet and very aromatic with red wine. As for the pate it was super SUPER SMOOTH.

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Duck Liver Pate 

If you are not so keen to ordering a duck liver pate then perhaps the rillettes of pork is an option. Traditional rillettes of pork with a hint of orange and tarragon fell far short of doing the generous quantity. The rillette was tasty and it was stuffed with a lot of shredded pork meat and cooked slowly in fat until it was tender enough to be easily served to form a paste.

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Rillettes of Pork

I thought I’d have issues with this entree but it was alllll good with the a generous portion of crispy pieces of croutons to balance it off the taste of pork love making in my mouth.

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Our starter wasn’t complete till we chosen the golden fried calamari which came with chilli, salt and pepper with garlic aioli. I love the calamari’s strong flavour and utterly unique texture; it’s nice and meaty but soft in the center, and when the coating is lightly fried, it is utter perfection on a plate.

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Golden Fried Calamari

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Love the setting at La Grillade

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True French style courtyard dining

Moving on to mains came this sexy ENORMOUS piece of lamb shoulder (for two) (additional $20 for set priced menu) that’s been slow-cooked for 14 hrs straight. It looked like a GIGANTIC slab of meaty goodness, just sprinkled with deliciousness from the crispy herb bits which then drowned in the Junee’s finest lamb sauce. It may look small in the photo but oh boy was it filling for three dinosaur stomachs. If you are not in a rush and want to spend the final minutes with this shoulder then now is the time to order a glass of red to accommodate this dish. A lovely falling-off-the-bone moment was witnessed and for the taste and texture it developed a deep, rich flavour that melts in the mouth.

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14 hrs Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder (for two) 

And because we love meat so much it is very important to decorate your main with some glossy steamed vegetables that has been generously tossed with olive oil.

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Steamed Vegetables

Say goodbye to boring duck breast because the one in La Grillade was pretty damn tasty as it has been twice cooked and decorated with pink flesh then glazed with sweet and sour cherries. The duck breast wasn’t a challenge to eat as I believe it’s the meatiest and best eating part of the duck. Okay…there may be some signs that these breasts were dry, but that didn’t stop me! This dish was easily finished because of the sauce, delicately sweet.

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Duck breast

To complement any meaty mains we ordered the creamed potato ($8). The texture was mild, thick and creamy, and this was a pleasant change from vegetables. There was no river of gravy in sight but I totally approve how delicious this was because none of us wanted to share.

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Creamed Potato ($8)

The rib eye (400gm) was just so mindblowingly good here that it was only right to have it cooked to medium rare. You can tell this slab of prime beef, dry aged was lightly smoked and grilled. It was seductive to see the pool of beef juice and served with Paris butter and veal glaze. There was so much tenderness in this beef that I managed to sneak a few more slices back to my own plate. Oh that evil grin begins!

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Rib Eye (400gm)

Can you handle dessert after all the above?! Well YES FOR ME. We chosen the baked lemon cheesecake because we saw the word “cake” at the end of cheesecake. Teehee. I must say this was a very ordinary dessert, nothing that fancy my pants other than the slight sour lemon flavour and silky smooth texture of the cheese.

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Baked Lemon Cheesecake

If you can’t handle a super heavy dessert then the coffee profiteroles Kahlua anglaise would be a good pick, which are stuffed full of sweet coffee creme covered in a profiteroles patissière and are placed over a small pond of mild Kahlua sauce.

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Coffee Profiteroles Kahluaanglaise

We weren’t going to leave a French restaurant without having the crème brulee. Although for some reason, a bowl of custard isn’t seen as an appropriate dessert for a grown adult, but stabbing our way through a perfect golden sugary layer and into the smooth custard can be an excuse to having this.

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Crème Brulee

Can you see how this decadent dessert is with the vanilla custard and tops it with a layer of crisp caramelized sugar…Hmmm I feel fat.

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That brulee…

By now I’ve reached exploding point and it felt like I was ready to roll out of here, but first let me just finish our last dessert- rich chocolate mousse. It was a perfectly fine mousse even though it wasn’t anything super special. Not only did it manage to convey both indulgence and comfort it was a heaven in a dish for all you chocolate fans out there.

Well I was feeling a tad heavier than I was before I visited La Grillade. Best to go for the set menu as I feel it’s more worth it when you calculate in your mind the original price for each dish. I will definitely come back for dinner again an try my luck on the rest of the menu.

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Rich Chocolate Mousse

Photos by Vanny Tang

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The Little Snail made a trail, Pyrmont

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Well we know snails are slow, but do all of them leave a trail? Maybe…well at least I know one French snail that doesn’t hold back in leaving behind footprints of its own adventurous journey. This snail managed to find a place of its own and opened up a restaurant called “The Little Snail“, being right next to Darling Harbour, surrounded by a fantastique view and nightlife too.

You step in, and you know it’s definitely authentic when you hear waiters speak desirable fluent French amongst each other. The interior decoration is… well… dull and simple, but I guess the view outside empowered my judgement, therefore it made up for it.

In my own personal experience, I know by fact that The Little Snail is a delightful gem for French dining and is an inviting place for celebrating on Mother’s Day, Birthdays and no doubt a destination for lovey dovey, romantic dinner dates.

When an old friend of mine (Mr Clarke Kent) asked if I was free for dinner, I replied “Sure, why not?”. He then replied “OK! But it will have to be at The Little Snail”. I was puzzled and ecstatic that my friend invited me along , just the two of us, spending our evening together, with a nice view and don’t forget the appetising degustation but I knew there was something more than just dinner.  You see, I was replacing his so called ” Lois Lane ” for the evening. I basically became his listener, so I think! 😛

It’s depressing to witness Mr Clarke Kent dealing with the struggling months of love hate relationship. Before the whole charade had happened few weeks before the dego, Mr Clarke Kent  was overjoyed, overwhelmed and longed to take ” Lois Lane ” to try French cuisine for the very  first time. He had booked in advance and layout his entire evening plan. And I have proof! I’m ever so curious to how a thoughtful, kind, sweet man can be left stranded? If you were Mr Kent, what would you do? Or If you were me, the listener, what advice would you give to Mr Kent ?

*Insert belly rumbling* Now to the food….

So it appears since my last visit to The Little Snail, which was roughly two years ago, they have altered their menu.  Thankfully their classic dishes were still available. Yeah baby!

I must admit, I’m pretty spoilt in terms of being a listener as Mr Kent treated me throughout the entire evening.  Boy, I can’t stop repeating thank you Thank You THANK YOU! I truly am grateful.

All the dishes we ordered were from the 3 course menu ($60)p.p, but you can order these through the a la carte menu as well, you’ll basically be adding a sting to your wallet. If you plan to adjust the courses and any side dishes, it requires an additional cost.

We weren’t passing off their stand out entree Escargots De Bourgogne, especially sitting in a French restaurant called “The Little Snail”.  It is essential to try the enticing dozen snails as it was bathed in melted garlic butter and marinated in herb-infused court bouillon. Served with toasted bread that resulted in dipping into the mouth-watering juicy sauce was marriage on a plate.  Caution: finger-licking may be involved as the sauce may splash onto your fingers, if you use your hands to dip the bread.

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Escargots De Bourgogne

Our other entree was Boulette De Fruits De Mer, a combination of fresh salmon, prawn and blue swimmer crab, steamed and paired with tomato and chervil veloute. It didn’t disappoint as it was beautifully presented in a rice shaped ball. The chervil veloute was astonishingly amazing! It was the key to making this dish work. The rich, creamy flavours matched well along with the texture of seafood. The colours so bright and fresh, it reminded me summer is not far away.

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Boulette De Fruits De Mer

For our mains Magret De Canard a portion of lightly crispy skin duck breast fillet marries into the sweet, gooey red raspberry sauce served with wok tossed green spinach. The raspberry sauce was overpowering the duck, but the fatty flavours of the duck burst out in the end, delivering a heavenly outcome.

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Magret De Canard

Cote De Veau -The veal tenderloin looked kind of original, but the taste was appealing in my mouth. Covered in champignon and chardonnay beurre blanc, it seemed like my mouth had a mind of its own, constantly chewing and absorbing the texture, the flavours and the feeling.  Aside with potato croquette, which failed as it was served cold and seasonal greens, broccoli, crunchy. I quite enjoyed the creamy sliced button mushroom sauce. It was a great combination with the veal to dig deep into the sauce.

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Cote De Veau

It wasn’t difficult to choose which dessert I wanted to devour, as I have previously tried them all. Mr Kent and I both settled for my favourite Chef Churned Hazelnut and Praline Ice Cream a layer of crunchy and crumbled shortbread topped with a large scoop of hazelnut and praline ice cream and sugar coated on top of the ice cream placed with squiggled grand mariner caramel. Yummy!

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Chef Churned Hazelnut and Praline Ice Cream

Aside from the relationship drama and food, It was agréable ( meaning enjoyable in French) evening.

A plus tard! (See you later)


Photos by Vanny Tang
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