When we heard that Balzac was closing I was a little sad as I had happy memories of the place. Yet when I heard that Montpellier was opening in its place, with Matthew Kemp still at the helm, I was quite excited at this new venture. For some reason though, it has taken me this long to get there to try it out, despite having heard and read so many wonderful things about it. It took an unbeatable Travelzoo voucher to get me there - $65.00 for a 3-course meal for two people, including a glass of wine or cocktail each. Once I saw this online, I knew I had to snap it up!
Voucher in hand, K and I rocked up this past Tuesday night, having planned this way in advance knowing that Anzac Day fell on the Wednesday. It was a late dinner, 8pm, and when we turned up, we found Montpellier lively and noisy - full of people enjoying the night before a public holiday like we were. The voucher seated us downstairs in the more casual pub area rather than the fancier restaurant upstairs, and our table was set with our menu - two options for each course... and I was a bit sad to see that the bread and butter pudding which many people had recommended to me over twitter, was not on it.
K and I did our usual and ordered the alternate of each so we could try everything, except for the main - on this blustery cool evening, we both wanted the braised beef brisket! The voucher came with a cocktail or glass of wine, but as we're both non drinkers, apple juice was the order of the day. It was then that I decided that service was quite disinterested - we barely got a smile from the ladies that were working the floor that evening, let alone anyone asking us how the dishes were!
The entrees of pea and ham soup, and potted ocean trout with pickled cucumbers, were both fabulous - K and I enjoyed them greatly. The soup was perfectly seasoned and vibrantly green, and the richness of the potted ocean trout was perfectly matched by the pickles. There was a bit of a long wait for the mains, but we were happy with them when they arrived - the creamiest, richest potatoes ever that were just pure comfort that night, but I thought that the beef was perhaps a touch dry for my liking.
Despite the lack of bread and butter puddling on the menu, I was really looking forward to the dessert - especially the warm chocolate pudding. However, it was the pavlova that absolutely blew me away... as K described it, it was "sweet air"! The pavlova was perfectly executed with this amazing crunchy crust and pillowly soft and shiny centre. It melted away to nothing on the tongue, and was accompanied by this gorgeous vanilla custard and poached peaches... despite my love for all things chocolate, my spoon kept on straying to K's pavlova plate over my own!
Matthew Kemp closed down Restaurant Balzac to make way for Montpellier Public House - a more casual and rustic dining experience. I know many people who enjoy Montpellier and think it is fabulous, but K and I walked away from our dinner talking instead of how fabulous Balzac was. Our meal at Montpellier was good, it was food that we cannot be overly critical of, but it wasn't something memorable for us - not along the same vein as Balzac.
Our meal was still great value on the Travelzoo voucher, but as to whether K and I would come back again - with or without the voucher - the answer is probably no. Unless it was just to eat pavlova... and maybe try the bread and butter pudding!