Location: 7 Alfred Pl, Melbourne Phone: 03 9631 4000 CBD Link: comme.com.au Cuisine: French, European Overall Impression: 4.5/10
An ex-Michelin star restaurant sous chef and now Orthopedic surgeon (and dear friend) that G and L met during their 2 years in Europe was visiting. We all decided to take him to a French restaurant to see his views on the Melbourne take on French cuisine.
Being a born and bred French man himself, he was very sceptical about how authentic the execution of the French cuisine would be but was also excited to see what French cuisine in Melbourne had to offer. I had read that Comme Kitchen was a brilliant French restaurant and had consistently earned a chef hat for several years now in The Age Good Food Guide so we thought it would be a fair reflection of a reasonably good Melbourne French restaurant. Neither, J, G, L or I had ever visited Comme Kitchen prior to this occasion. Unfortunately, neither of us will ever be coming back.
The place is unconventionally set out but aesthetically, it works. There is a relaxed elegance about the place and based on first impressions, it was certainly a place we liked instantly.
We commenced our night with cocktails at the bar while waiting for our table. When we were finally seated, our French guest ordered a few beautiful bottles of wine. We had been drinking for a while and were becoming incredibly hungry. Our orders had been placed an hour ago and we all wondered whether the kitchen had forgotten our orders. It was perplexing given the restaurant was far from full.
Our five entrees finally arrived. All five, minuscule in size. We thought, given these were entrees, it might be a good way to work up an appetite for the mains.
Our mains arrived in half an hour after our entrees. To our disappointment, they were the size of a normal entree (i.e. although bigger than a Comme Kitchen entree, trifling for what would be expected of a normal sized main). It was clear that the restaurant was suffering from a serious case of 'big plate syndrome' - tiny portions on a giant plate. A phenomenon common in the ancient past that was indicative of restaurants with "class". Something fine dining establishments in the twenty first century (bar a few) have realised does not induce patronage.
To the restaurant's credit, ignoring the portions, in terms of the food itself, our dishes met our expectations. They were reasonably well executed as a whole and had good flavours that were well balanced and pleasing to eat. My highlight of the evening was my entree of 'Escargot Bourguignon, button mushrooms, lardons & parsley cream'. Although, the flavours of the dish were quite strong and slightly overwhelmed the subtle flavours of the snail, that did little to detract from the fact that the snails were tender and melted in my mouth.
The desserts were the most adequately sized of all the courses.
They were a sweet end to the meal.
As a whole, it was an incredibly underwhelming dining experience. The unreasonable wait for the food to arrive and the ridiculous portions were the main downfall. The main waitress that served us was lovely and accomodating but every other staff member we encountered during the night was defensive and rude. The food itself is of quite a good standard but for a hatted establishment and the high end price tags, we would have expected much more.