Dining / Chef Christophe’s travail d’amour

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I HAD been dying to dine at Le Très Bon and so screamed “parfait!” when a friend suggested that four of us head to Bungendore to celebrate a birthday.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

Le Très Bon is a labour of love by master chef Christophe Gregoire, born and raised in France’s Les Vosges region. After cooking and teaching around the world, Christophe landed in New Caledonia where he met his wife Josephine, a delightful woman who served us at lunch.

Now the couple are living, working and raising their family in tiny Bungendore, operating out of an historic building. The story is wonderfully perfect and so is the traditional French cuisine that emerges from the kitchen.

When you first walk in, you discover a table of goodies you can buy, created by Christophe, including magnificent meringues, jars of duck fat, truffled salt and organic rhubarb and cumquat confiture (made with produce from his garden).

We settled in with a classic French pre-dinner drink, a Kir Royale champagne, which we enjoyed with complimentary housemade olive tapenade.

We went for gold with entrees, mains and desserts, made with local produce and specialty ingredients from France. So much food and so little space to cover it all, so shall celebrate a few highlights.

The snails were superb ($18 for six). They were prepared in butter, shallots, parsley, garlic and star-anise flavoured Pastis from Provence. The snails were tender and not too garlicky or buttery.

The chicken galantine and mango, served on a wooden board with cornichons and salad, was beautifully spiced with nutmeg, bay leaves and thyme. It was a generous serve so we all got to taste ($22).

Duck lovers will delight in the confit with griottes cherry sauce, which Le Très Bon says is a “classic and prestigious French dish” ($38). The cherries, slightly sour, cut through the duck, and who can go wrong with perfectly cooked Dauphinoise potatoes?

Another winning dish was the braised pork belly ($38), slow cooked in almond milk and spices. The dish featured a whole-grain French mustard sauce and came with a light and tasty salad mixing celeriac, fennel and apple.

For a sweet ending, “The Colonel” is out of this world – house-made sorbet, made with local organic lemons and doused with French vodka. Such a fresh ending to a fine meal. The French chocolate tart was equally divine, created with 70 per cent dark chocolate from France and beautiful berries from the garden.

Christophe and Josephine host food and wine tours to New Caledonia, one for 12 days and one for a weekend. Check out letresbon.com.au/tours/ for details.

Le Très Bon, open Wednesday-Saturday, lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch, 40 Malbon Street, Bungendore, call  6238 0662.

 

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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