L’Assiette, located in the Britomart complex, is a small French cafe/bistro that only opens for dinner between Thursdays and Saturdays (but open seven days for breakfast/lunch). Reviews published online and in the Britomart magazine, praised L’Assiette for their delicious freshly baked pastries and their modern French cuisine and being a lover of French food, we decided to visit for a nice girly dinner.
We arrived to a quiet restaurant on a Thursday night and was shown to our table by a lovely waiter who was very friendly and spoke with a beautiful French accent. The bistro is relatively small, but the decor and the fresh flowers on the table created a cosy and relaxing environment and we were left to mull over the menu.
As we intend to enjoy three courses, we ordered two starters to share between the four of us. The dozen escargots – baked in the shell with garlic butter – was perfect. Often, people are turned off by the texture of the escargot because it can get rubbery and difficult to chew when over cooked. However, in this case, it was soft and tender and most importantly, the garlic taste was not overpowering which allowed the escargot taste to come through. The French onion soup was very disappointing as the consensus around our table concludes that it was too salty for our liking.
For mains, my friends and I chose the blue cheese sauce steak frites which was a chargrilled scotch fillet served with homemade fries. The cut and texture of the meat was fantastic and the blue cheese sauce was pungent and flavoursome. But, the surface of the steak was over charred which left a slightly bitter aftertaste that was difficult to cover with the sauce. The mussels cooked in white wine with shallots, garlic and cream was nice but not very special. The sauce was well flavoured. The marinated yellow fin tuna, crusted with black sesame, was well presented and the fish was fresh and had a good firm texture. The accompanying French bean and shallot salad was appetizing and tangy.
Although the mains were somewhat disappointing, it did not deter us from ordering dessert – which I have to say, is the highlight of the entire meal. The huge pear tarte tartin served with vanilla ice cream was delightful and we loved the perfect combination of caramelized pear and crispy filo pastry. The trio of creme brulee (original, chocolate and strawberry) was creamy and delicious and there was a nice surprise of gooey chocolate and strawberry jam in the latter two. Their macarons – which they order from Ma Cherie – has some very interesting flavours. The mocha and the blueberry was my favourite.
This bistro has great potential and the convenient location means that it is a great place to stop by during your shopping spree at Britomart. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the food from L’Assiette and this always happen when I read great reviews and therefore arrive with high expectations. In spite of this, I would still come again and give their daytime menu a go which will hopefully change my mind.
Date: Thursday 28th June, 2012 | Location: 9 Britomart Place, Auckland Central | Food: French Bistro/Cafe