The restaurant as we know it, as a place where the focus is on the provision of meals, is a relatively recent development and was born in France in the late 18th century.
Helped along by the French Revolution in 1789, when many chefs lost their jobs working for the aristocracy and opened their own places, the restaurant became a fashionable place to be seen and eat out. And the word “restaurant” translates as a place to restore, rest and recuperate.
Montrachet, in the inner city suburb of Paddington, is a traditional French restaurant, owned and run by Thierry Galichet. Thierry is the classic French restaurateur – warm, gregarious and passionate. Born in Lyon, he migrated in 1970 and has been running restaurants for 40 years. He opened Montrachet, named after his favourite wine, in 2004.
This quaint Parisian style brasserie complete with a marble-topped comptoir (counter bar), tables covered in classic white cloths, red leather chairs, mirrors and memorabilia has a warm ambience. With typical self-assured French arrogance, Thierry does not open on weekends and weekday bookings must be made in advance if you want to get in. Entrées include Coquille St Jacques (scallops) served with a light pea mash and beurre blanc; a delicate Carpaccio de Beouf, with wafer-thin beef in olive oil and lemon juice; snails with garlic butter and a sensational ox tail ravioli with foie gras.
On the main course menu, the Bouillabaisse made with reef fish, scallops and fresh green prawns in a beautiful rich seafood broth is warm and comforting. The casserole of rabbit with white wine and mushrooms invokes images of the French countryside, while a classic eye fillet served with hand-made French fries and freshly made béarnaise sauce is a Parisian favourite.
Finish with some classic desserts such as a silky dark chocolate ganache tart made with cognac, a crisp smoky crème brulée or rich salted caramel custard filled profiteroles – or a superb range of French cheeses with a port or muscat. The extensive wine list includes wines selected by Thierry from around France as well as some good local varieties, with some by the glass.
The service is impeccable; some of the staff have been with Thierry since he opened and are warm, friendly and knowledgeable. Montrachet is an elegant piece of France, serving authentic, wholesome well-crafted French food. Unfortunately you won’t be able to get in this Bastille Day (14 July), but it’s the place go to celebrate the birth of the restaurant.