I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce the name of this French establishment. Proudly boasting one hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2013 and sitting on a large property with lovely vineyard views in the regional settlement of Main Ridge, La Petanque has plenty to offer. The French influence is quite apparent on the menu: stalwarts such as terrine, beef tartare and cassoulet abound.
We were presented with a tiny sample of pork and rabbit rillette with a sliver of cornichon and finely shredded fennel, balanced artfully on the end of a fancy tablespoon. It certainly fulfilled its purpose of ‘amusing the mouth’. It’s a shame this wasn’t available as an entree at the time.
It was a classic French tartare: hand-cut sirloin, shallots, capers, parsley, quail egg yolk and pommes gaufrettes, which are wafer thin potato chips cut in a criss-cross pattern. The meat was well-seasoned with a good measure of saltiness from the capers and sweetness from the shallots.
Pork hock terrine
The terrine just held together, with chunks of mildly salty ham melding well with the parsley and tarragon. A single cornichon, crisp proscuitto wafers and quail egg (despite being fried, rather than scotched as stated on the menu) were good complements for the meat. The remaining range of pickled vegetables, however, didn’t do much for me.
Duck and beetroot is good combination. As is duck and fig. And duck and hazelnuts. Not to mention duck and nettles. Unfortunately I’m not sure that ‘all of the above’ was such a great combination. Sure, it sort of worked as a weird hybrid of two different meals on one plate. However the earthy beetroot, spinach-like nettle puree and hazelnut butter, topped off with sticky-sweet star anise jus really just didn’t work as a whole.
Bob’s meal consisted of rather more classic flavours, with crispy pork belly accompanied by seared scallops, braised fennel, apples and Calvados gel. I know it’s nothing groundbreaking but I just love the combination of apple and pork. There’s a reason why it’s used time and time again. I must admit I got a bit of food envy here.
Champagne savarin and autumn berries
A ring of champagne-soaked yeast cake was filled with creme patissiere and sat atop a generous helping of plump local berries. Basil foam and pepper crumbs were an interesting yet pleasant match. It was a nice dessert, however it was slightly lacking in sweetness, even for me.
Poached pear with vanilla panna cotta
There’s not much that could have gone wrong here. Silky smooth pannacotta, tender pear, raspberry sorbet, almond tuille, meringue, juicy fresh raspberries. Oh my. I couldn’t help but get a little bit of food envy again. Damn Bob and his good choices.
We dined on the weekend, during which prices are fixed at $88 for three courses or $69 for two. During the week standard entrees are $25, mains $42 and desserts $19.
Service was rather slow and inattentive, with a reasonable amount of time passing before our orders for both mains and desserts were taken. Being seated in the corner may have been the reason for this.
Of course it’s inevitable that I compare the experience here to that of Terminus at Flinders, the other one-hat restaurant in the region which I had dined at the night beforehand. Everything was satisfactory overall, although I felt that some of the flavours at La Petanque just weren’t quite right. I can’t entirely put my finger on it but I did prefer the Terminus. Perhaps that’s just me though.
Nevertheless, La Petanque is a worthy option, and a great place to sample some of the Peninsula’s best produce.La Petanque 1208 Mornington Flinders Road Main Ridge