Sgt Donny Donowitz says “ You know , Lieutenant, you’re getting pretty good at that.” *
The qualities of dining 1. Great food 2. Quality service 3. Great environment
Merely being in Restaurant Hubert could be like stepping into another time. An environment of Paris pre WW2, romantic, rich drapes, piano stage, wood panels and eons of memories on the walls. After descending underground past a vast collection of miniature alcohol bottles you arrive, big room and bar to the left , booths to the right. Suit attired charming gents welcome you at the bottom of the stairs. Several dining options are available, the bar, booths or tables. I’m yet to experience bar dining at Restaurant Hubert and as the gloriously lit and stocked back bar, crowned by the extensive wine cellar with the charming staff, I cant wait to be alone in the city and pull up a stool. Bar dining is an essential asset for the lone diner.
The room is rich. Sitting here feels luxurious, as if having snuck into a private club from days long gone whose members memories linger in the air, in the walls and in the menu. The menu heralds times past as food trends are ignored, its French, its decadent, yes there are carbs and butter, lots of them. The menu reads simply, similar to chef Danny Pepperell’s last restaurant 10 William street. The food, like 10 William St, is far from simple. Potato gallette, sliced thin and fried crisp, wading in a pool of creamy sauce. I picked up mine with my hands and dunked in sauce repeatedly, mopping as much sauce up as I possibly could.
Only several ducks are available each day. It takes days for the brining and prepping. Then stuffed with sausage, cooked and served. This duck is amazing, crisp skin, juicy flesh with sausage stuffing, insert Instagram drool here.
My favourite starter is the Gruyere. A deep fried disk of rich cheese until the crisp outside releases the gooey indulgent centre, tre Frenchy, oui? The Clams Normandy are delightful, slippery seafood morsels in buttery broth that is made for dunking crusty frog bread in to.
Steak tartar is fatty and hedonistic, served with real french fries. Fat, meat, crisp, fried slivers gangbang each other, do you dare go there? The simple quality many French Restaurants I’ve been too miss, is, the meat here is room temperature which allow for soft fat and tasty meat.
Blood pudding is served as a slice from a loaf. Suitably rich and as a loaf more surface area allows fore more good crisp shell and crunch . And that is why you eat black pudding, for the crunchy outside! The Instagram superstar egg dish here is good but food for me needs to bring more hearty flavour. In my view hot and tasty go far. The cool seafood jelly with all sorts of seafood eggs is a great old school homage and represent genius and skill but is not a tasty wall banger for me.
A couple of steak options are available on the concise menu. The Bavette, a tasty cut with fries might be the one dish is this restaurant that has any attachment to todays world. And that is only because hipsters have done some research and now love underprivileged cuts of meat. The T Bone at $130 is supreme, five of us gorged ourselves on this one night, my daughter chewed the bone to the core.
My night did get weird. I have done business with these boys and as much fun they have, the clarity of their vision and direct negotiating style led to some terse moments. After closing deals through tight moments, drinking at Anton and Jason’s Bars Shady Pines, Baxter Inn and Frankie’s Pizza privileged me to witness wild and rowdy times. To have Anton as my waiter, with boyish polite charm was foreign to me. So polite, so caring, I’d forgotten this cat has serious pedigree in hospitality.
I know these boys from booze, their drink knowledge is deep . Jason Scott and Anton Forte are industry stalwarts . The wine list here is extensive and I’ve focused on the French region of Jura , with great advice, exceptional wines can be found in the deep catalogue. I know a little about wine and after chatting with the sommelier we’ve enjoyed a Domaine Pigner ‘A la percenette 2013, Jean Bourdy Cotes du Jura Blanc 2010. Both natural, textural, with balanced minerals and dry finish. French mountain wine. An Austrian Trauben, Liebe und Zeit from Strohmeeier, and a Gafin, are in the same vain, big wines with natural qualities and euro refinement. By this time my label photo skill had deteriorated , so Gafin is all you get for the last one. We finished with Georg Breuer Auslese 2013.
There are three choices for dessert, Crème Caramel, Profiteroles and Melon sorbet. Seems sparse but each are brilliant examples of each dish. The Crème Carmel is firm and soft, decedent but not rich with a light sweet syrup. The profiteroles crisp and chewy with rich chocolate coat and light custard filling. Melon filled with sorbet and little balls that pop is a clean refreshing end to an extravagant experience.
And Lt Aldo Raine says “You know somethin’, Utivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece”*
* Quotes from Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglorious Basterds
All photos taken on an Iphone6+