We went to Tabou for a Duck and Pinot Noir night, which promised 5 courses of duck, matched to 5 French Pinot Noirs. The Crown Street restaurant feels very 1930s, with wall mounted lights, mirrors and a stained glass entranceway. The atmosphere set the scene for the food very well.
Our amuse bouche was a puff pastry wrapped duck, prune and Armagnac terrine served with spiced pear. This is a dish that appears on their regular menu, and it was very well executed. It was an amazing combination, and reasonably substantial too. The pastry in particular was quite amazing, tasting somewhere in between the richness of short crust, and having the airiness of puff pastry.
Our first glass of wine was a light and quaffable Bourgogne Rouge Gaches-Manot 2004 and it came with what I deemed to be, the dish of the evening – a smoked duck breast with beetroot and celeriac. The rare slices of smoked duck were succulent and flavoursome, especially the skin and fat. They lay on a bed of two sorts of roast beetroot –traditional and golden beets, with some grated celeriac for texture.
The next dish, roulade of duck confit, spiced peach and gaufrette potatoes, was an example of how you could do duck for a bistro setting – it was to all intents and purposes, duck and chips – and its simplicity was delightful. The duck itself was moist and tasty, making it much more palatable to someone like me, who generally finds the thigh/leg piece of roasted duck a bit dry and stringy. The spiced peaches were the perfect foil, and the gaufrette potatoes, with their delicately crunchy fine lattice, put most brands of potato chips to shame.
The wine of the evening went to a Beaune Bieilles Vignes 2004 D. Laurent Cote de Beaune, which had all the fruit that you could want, combined with a nice helping of forest floor. It was served with the dish I found the most interesting – a rare roasted duck breast with savoy cabbage, gizzards and eschallot puree. I had never tried duck gizzards before, and they were actually quite easy to eat in the sense that they weren’t very different in taste or texture from the duck meat itself. Cabbage is far from my favourite vegetable, but in combination with the divine eschallot puree, I found them very much to my taste. The rare duck itself was a little chewy for my liking, but tasty none the less.
I really enjoyed the cheese course, which was a piece of Comte, served with sliced apple, and a lavosh like cracker, and a glass of Rully Rouge Joseph Drouhin 2003 Cote Chalonnaise. The cheese is a cooked and pressed cow's milk cheese with a nutty taste, similar to Gruyere. We also ordered some bread, which came with an amazing tub of butter, and both were quickly devoured. Nothing beats good bread!
Dessert was a duck egg and vanilla parfait served with the freshest, sharpest raspberries and an almond biscuit served with a lovely Muscat de Frontignan ‘Avarus’ T. Rodriguez 2004. The wine smelt and tasted exactly like the muscatel grapes from which it is made. And the dessert itself was the richest, most wonderful creamy moment you could imagine! The parfait was rich and airy, the almond biscuit tasted of honey and caramel, and it was a delicate crisp lattice. To cap it all off, they served us a rather amazing South American coffee. Service was friendly, and eager to please, though from time to time you had to look for them. This may have been due to our position right in the window box, where the level of our water glasses may have been hard to see. The waitress was knowledgeable in most areas, and her lapses were forgiven once we found out she had only been working at Tabou for less than two weeks.
I think the meal was extraordinary value – 5 courses with matched wines plus an amuse bouche for $95 – and as a result of the quality of the food, and the price, we will certainly be back. In fact, after a browse of their regular menu I will be back to try their Truffled Mashed Potatoes and steaks with Café de Paris butter… yum!