Spanish mackerel is one of my favourite fish.
And this one is deliciously simple enough for anyone to cook at home.
“The earliest booking they have is 9pm” Mysaucepan says.
“That suits me just fine … we can avoid the hip crowd” I say. “We might even score a park on a busy Saturday evening!”
If you happen to be the daughter of a celebrity chef like Neil Perry who is opening a restaurant in Sydney, is there any other suburb to do it other than in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills or Potts Point?
Missy French, Potts Point
There has been a fair bit written about how French or un-French the deco is and I just fail to see the point as I could care less. So what if it is a mixture of naked grey bricks, bare concrete walls, exposed electricals and plumbing on the ceiling?
It’s Potts Point after all and the pedigree of the restaurateur is at stake because I am more curious about what’s going to be on my plate tonight.
Looking rather busy albeit composed, Josephine Perry greets us warmly at front of house. And at 9pm, the party in this dining room is anywhere from pre-dinner drinks to dessert though I am pleasantly surprised the crowd is leaning towards the knowledgeable mature than the want-to-be-seens so prevalent around here.
Call it modern Mediterranean if you will because a French pissaladière is less wholesome, rather crisp and thin with olive slices, caramelized onions and anchovies.
Mysaucepan is happily sipping a glass of 2012 Chateau Langlois sancerre with citrusy hints of lemon in the tradition of a sauvignon blanc, except it’s more refined than ours in Australia.
“This is a celebration for my bonus after all” she coos.
I raised my glass of H2O to her. “Here’s to more hard work this year” I say. “It’s gonna keep you nice and trim.”
Spanish mackerel cutlet
You know you’re having modern French when the waitress tells you the small and main plates on the menu are all meant to be shared. Perhaps our geography being close to Asia has influenced the way we eat over the last couple of decades as many Italian restaurants in Sydney have introduced shared plates.
I have never seen Spanish mackerel other than whole or in cutlet form in seafood markets and it is one of my favourite home recipes.
Topped with fresh lemon, baby capers and micro herbs, mackerel is deliciously firm with its flaky white flesh. All it needs is a squeeze of lemon juice and a good sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
Is this style of fish typically French? Frankly, I don’t really care because it’s fresh, executed well and you bet I’m going to replicate it at home, perhaps with a dose of fresh chilli and olive oil.
Pithivier with mushy peas and jus
Mysaucepan‘s pithivier is more theatrically French because the house could not resist pouring the jus at our table.
Underneath the crisp golden brown pastry is strands of succulent pork cheek and though I’m not a big fan of mushy peas, I could excuse this one by closing my eyes and pretend it cauliflower puree instead.
I make no apologies being a staunch and loyal fan of BBQ chook at Nando’s. In terms of bold chargrilled flavour and taste, most BBQ poultry comes second to Nando’s in my books, including this one here.
Don’t get me wrong though. This BBQ spatchcock is crisp and nicely caramelized. Tastewise, it could use a bit more seasoning though a creamy verjuice on the side is savoury and might just pull this bird back from Portuguese to French territory.
Missy French entremet
The Missy French entremet is not quite an in-between because its light and airy chocolate mousse is a rather pleasant pit stop.
It’s a pit stop because Missy French appears like she is evolving and I feel the urge to check her out a little more closely on my next visit. She is refreshingly light without the uppity air of a traditional French eating institution. The menu is friendly even if your French is no better than Yiddish while the wine list is succinctly to the point with stalwarts from Burgundy, Bordeaux and Rhone with a sprinkling of local Aussies.
Clearly absent is voluptuous dairy, cream and rich béchamel in favour of restrained elegance. If you will, Missy French is more of a modern day Juliette Binoche than a buxom Brigitte Bardot in the traditional sense.
And these days, that’s how I prefer my French.
So dear readers, do you place more importance on deco or food in a French restaurant?
22 Rockwall Crescent, Potts Point
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 8599 4912
Opening hours: Lunch Friday to Sunday from 12pm Dinner 7 nights from 6pm.