Friday, August 24, 2007

Maitre Karl, High St, Willoughby

Maitre Karl, High St, Willoughby
Friday 24 August, 2007

Tonight was a very special occasion - the coming together of two families to celebrate an engagement - how fun! With spirits high and the anticipation of a wonderful meal we knew this would be a night to remember.
Maitre Karl is one of my favourite local restaurants. It's relaxed, easy to get to & park and is BYO. The promise is, " nestled in the heart of the North Shore, Maitre Karl has created a petite piece of Europe. Upon entering this suburban bistro's inviting chic interior of dark timber and brass you will receive a warm welcome."
The warm welcome is guaranteed. I've never witnessed Karl miss doing this to anyone that walks through the front door. He is a proud host and keen to ensure you have a wonderful experience. With 8 of us dining we had several bottles of wine with us and the most bizarre coincidence was both Dads had purchased the same bottle of red wine - Tyrells Shiraz Rufus Stone- for the occasion.
To kick off the evening we ordered a few of house specialities - tarte flambe. Originating from Alsace, France near the German border, tarte flambée has a thinly rolled yeast free base spread with flavoursome fromage blanc (fresh cheese) and scattered with various ingredients. We selected the following to share:
- Strasbourgeoise - German sausage, onion and sauerkraut
- Gratinee - finely sliced onion, bacon and gruyere cheese
- Al'Italienne - ham and pearl mozzarella on tomato base
The staff served everyone a slice of each off the large wooden serving boards and for several minutes there was silence as we enjoyed each mouthful. One of the specials available was garlic snails (or as the French say - escargot) so as a bit of fun we decided to order half a dozen for the table. The brave few who tried them (myself included) were impressed with the presentation - the serving dish was specially designed for 6 snails and each snail was soaked in a buttery, garlic sauce with a side of bread. The verdict? Not that bad - if can get past the visual of snails in your backyard - a little rubbery but the garlic makes them very edible.
For mains our party of 8 ordered the following dishes:
- Slow braised lamb shanks with gratin dauphinois, ratatouille and red wine jus x 3
- Barramundi oven baked in a paper bag served with salmon mousselini, potato fondant, dill, zucchini and hollandaise sauce x 1
- Veal mignon served with potatoes and a creamy mushroom sauce x 4
The stand out were the lamb shanks. Two massive shanks presented on the plate with tender meat that fell off the bone. It was truly delicious and a dish that I could easily return for again and again. The barramundi arrived at the table in a carefully prepared paper bag - it was a little fiddly to remove but the steamed fish inside was flaky and light. The veal, a special for the evening, was presented in a hearty serving and could have been a little rarer for my liking but the creamy mushroom sauce was sensational. Overall, the quality and size of the servings were wonderful.
It wouldn't have been a celebration without speeches, so with Moet all round, we toasted the engagement and heard some moving words from everyone present. Next up were desserts and coffee. There was one dessert shared - Swiss Alps with toblerone ice cream, mousse and fairy floss however the Mum's weren't up for sharing and each ordered the selection of ice creams and sorbets. The Swiss Alps was a delightful looking dessert with a large white meringue in the centre surrounded by a dollop of ice cream and mousse around the side. The use of fairy floss was fun and we shared this between three of us.
What a great night!
Maitre Karl - 197 High Street, Willoughby - (02) 9958 1110


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