Monday, January 2, 2012

Madame Sousou - Food and Economics

"Updates!", requests a friend. His mild whinging started a snowball effect, truly tumbling larger once I chatted with an Australia friend about her superb Melbourne dining experiences. So here I was Friday night at Madama Sousou, a French restaurant, on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.

From the moment I perused the menu, my internal economic fusspot kicked in. Salads - low teens, a la carte/small entrees - mid to high teens, specials and main courses - mid thirties. I was forewarned fortunately and was prepared mentally and financially. If you've been a stingy bastard for 7 weeks, it's hard to release the tightly held cash.

I ran from Brunswick and Gertrude up to Bell Street. Well, I didn't run all the way. There was foot traffic and unexpectedly my flat mates seated outside a pub. Yes, I'm in a hurry. No, it's not a date. On we go. If you're running my direction and don't know where Bell Street, squint your eyes to see Madama Sousou's sign typography.

The restaurant's interior is welcoming and softly lit. Wooden tables and chairs are arranged for couples to larger parties, lighting is medium, our table candle unlit. The bar dominates the left side. If you peer past the bar and above, be sure to notice the wine bottles. Oh, and I hope you're flexible enough to squeeze through the bathroom doors if the need arises.
I started with the Gruyere Scallop Souffle with Jerusalem artichoke veloute, scallops, hazelnut($19 AUD) and a Cynar apertif ($8 AUD). My companions shared the Petite Friture A L'aioli with crispy fried calamari, school prawns, and whitebait with paprika, orange, frize, and aioli.. The scallops were a recipient of the gruyere and did not impart noticeable character to the dish. The souffle was of fine density and delectability. My lone taste of the seafood dish was satisfactory. I hesitantly sampled the calamari. It's typical seafood taste was masked by the oil and chili flavoring, a bonus for my taste buds. The only complaint? My dining companions questioning where the whitebait was.
Next were the mains courses. I had eaten beforehand due to poor planning. Thankfully, my companions allowed me nibbles from their plates. Tonight's dining adventure featured duck with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts and their special of snapper with saffron and vanilla sauce.
 First, we have the snapper. My curiosity was piqued due to an immediate exclamation "it tastes like cake!" No fish I've ever sampled tastes like cake. I was intrigued. The fish's spices were first present, but the saffron and vanilla sauce carried it into the cake realm. A bit too sweet for my dining preferences.
Next we came to the duck. If I recall correctly, the ordering dining companion was more excited for the brussel sprouts. Yes, the brussel sprouts. The much maligned root vegetable. I cannot attest that it equaled her excitement, but they did disappear rapidly. The duck was amazingly savory and left me wanting more.

We were finished. Dessert could wait another day, especially at $15 prices.