Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Breakfast degustation at Le Monde, Surry Hills
If you want to max out on breakfast, this is the finest way to do it. Le Monde in Surry Hills has started serving a breakfast degustation.
For $25*, you get three inventive courses, two coffees (swappable for tea, if you're not into ground beans), and multiple amounts of early-morning fun.
The fine print though - it's only available Thursday to Saturday, for a minimum of two people. Will and I had no problem with these ground rules.*
The first course is Granola & Watermelon with Black Olive, Frozen Grapes, Vanilla Bean Yoghurt, & Baby Mint, and boy, is it a fine way to trick me into eating granola.
Usually I'd skip rolled oats for something less health-nut and more rebellious, but, in the way of degustations, this dish playfully overlaps textures and flavours to make each bite a multi-layered surprise: the gritty dried olive and granola with the smooth tang and cream of yogurt, the surprise drizzle of honey underneath the cool slice of watermelon.
The second course is a "Big Breakfast with a Twist". For Will, this is a three-part special. There's a bibimbap-inspired pot of chorizo, tomato, and coddled egg that you're meant to mix up, Korean-style, to get the runny yolk through everything. There is also an eggshell hiding more egg, underneath a bouquet of baby basil. This is meant to be tipped onto the stack of toast, sundried tomato and mushroom pate.
I ask him what the aim is, of pouring all the ingredients over each other. "Besides funness?" says Will.
DIY joy aside, the lively crush and blend of flavours answers my question.
The vego option is spiced tomato with winter vegetables, and it feels like a comforting, cold-weather version of ratatouille. As flavoursome as it is, it just can't quite match the science-lab interactive fun of Will's breakfast.
With normal degustations, you get a sommelier offering matching wines, so I like how the breakfast equivalent is the barista coming over to talk about the coffee selection. In the spotlight is a Bolivian blend that ranked 8 in the Cup of Excellence. We're told this brew is very light – almost to the point it's like coffee that tastes like tea. Will thinks this is an on-the-mark description.
I like how the blend comes with a back-story, so you can read about the actual farmer who cultivates it.
The final course is Poached Pear with Crème Anglaise, Honeycomb, Coffee Soil, & Dill. The dill adds a strong undercurrent to the custard and pear, while the home-made honeycomb is a crackly delight, as is the coffee-doused biscuit crumbs. All the elements add these flavour-sparks and contrasts – it's a lovely end-note, the only problem is that by now, I am too full to eat the whole thing (always a pitfall of degustations – but having an unfinishable amount of a good dish is not really that much a tragedy, is it?).
Le Monde's degustation offering is spearheaded by chef Chris Merrick, who would have nailed his tasting-menu talents when working alongside Daniel Puskas at Oscillate Wildly. It seems that Le Monde is the only cafe in Sydney offering such a multi-course, fine-dining-level breakfast and in the first week, it seems to have hit the mark.
The cafe also has a standard breakfast menu, which definitely sounds enticing – Raspberry and Cinnamon Hotcakes with Maple Syrup, anyone? – but everyone should try the degustation at least once. For $25, it's impressive value and it seems like (delicious?) irony that the greatest breakfast bargain around right now comes from a concept exported from high-end dining.
*Sadly, as of early 2011, the breakfast degustation is no longer on offer at Le Monde. It's still a cafe worth visiting, though!
Le Monde, 83 Foveaux Street Surry Hills NSW (02) 9211 3568