Unbeknownst to me, my dinner at The Brasserie at Crown last year was the last hoorah for Philippe Mouchel at the restaurant. Fortunately, he has now moved his talents to a new venue in the city, PM24, backed by his new partners the Press Club Group.

Some things have changed and some things have remained the same. The setting is still French chic without the overt Frenchiness (except for the obligatory French waiters, of course) with the centrepiece being a gleaming fire-engine red rotisserie in the open kitchen. The food is still straight-down-the-line classic French, with some familiar items from The Brasserie reappearing on PM24‘s menu. The service is impeccable and the bread is delicious (served with a cutely presented tin of salmon rillette).

To start, once again, I had the Burgundy style escargot with tomato fondue, garlic and parsley butter and toasted bread  ($19). I found the concentration of reduced tomato a little overwhelming and I would have preferred more garlic, but overall it was a punchy little starter.

In contrast, RM’s spanner crab cake with heirloom tomatoes and vinaigrette ($25) was a balanced melding of delicate flavours. It’s good to see that a kitchen has a handle on both ends of the flavour spectrum – it’s not just all big flavours.

I had read lots of effusive praise for the slow-roasted rotisserie items so opted for the organic Milawa chicken with rosemary and preserved lemon and rotisserie vegetables ($35).  I don’t naturally gravitate towards chicken on a menu so was hoping to be blown away by this roast chook. Well…it was one of the better versions of roast chicken I’ve had (that wasn’t my own :–)) and I loved the tumble of roast vegetables accompanying it, but it was not so awesome that I’d return to order it again – in particular, I like my roast chicken with a really crispy skin and this wasn’t the case here. The dish is a safe crowd-pleaser but not particularly exciting – I reckon next time I’m going for the corn fed duck if I can convince another person to share with me (it comes for 2 people only).

By coincidence RM ordered another dish of shredded meat formed into a shape, this time the suckling pig croquette and lentils sauce ravigotte ($36). The fully flavoured meat was moist and was paired perfectly with the crisp pancetta and gentle bite of lentils. For sides we shared a creamy, comforting potato gratin ($7.50).

French desserts are my weakness so despite being very full already I urged RM to share the Grand Marnier souffle with me ($17). This was a work of art – just-baked airy egg white rising majestically out of the ramekin. If you like souffles, do not miss this textbook perfection.

A final touch – homemade marshmallow with the bill. Do you know that I’ve never had non shop-bought marshmallow before and the homemade stuff, made with fresh strawberries in this case, is very much unlike the rubbery nobs that come in plastic packets. You’re presented with snakes of the pillowy soft sweet and the waiter snips off a segment for you – which means if you have no shame you can ask for an extra large piece :–)

PM24 is a reliable addition to the city dining scene – the cooking is skillful and the bistro vibe is relaxed, so it’s the sort of place where you can take a date, meet your friends or impress your in-laws.

To read more reviews, check out Sarah Cooks and The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar.

  • PM24, 24 Russell St, Melbourne

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