Restaurant review: Libertine, Melbourne

August 30, 2009

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The town

When on vacation on the farm (Two Hills Vineyard), we hardly visit the big town, i.e. Melbourne, just about an hour and a half south of Glenburn. This time the girls needed new passports and therefore also new visa, and Margit also needed to get one. Therefore we had to collect the items but planned to combine it with meeting old friends over a pleasurable lunch in town. The Thai consulate people are the friendliest on earth and were very helpful. We were in a joyous mood. The girls took zillions of pictures from the car: when country folks visit town!

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After our business was completed we made our way to North Melbourne. Libertine, the French restaurant, where I had indulged in wonderful French cuisine earlier this year, was our object of desire. It is easy to find. Just drive along Victoria Street until you reach the house number 500. If you get to Errol Street you have just passed it. Find a parking and walk.

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The diners (Helen, Tony, Lucy, Charlotte, me, Margit and Joe)

We arrived ahead of time and took a stroll through the neighbourhood with its many restaurants and small local shops. Margit insisted on buying some cigars for me. Good ones are hard to find in the country side.

Our friends – Tony, Helen and Joe – had already assembled when we finally made it to Libertine. What a great reunion over an excellent meal and some good wine awaited us here.

I like the Libertine menu since it allows you to combine your preferences. It was a bit hard for the girls, though. We usually have Italian and Asian food at home, and therefore most of the dishes on offer were rather very unusual; “raffine” as the French might say, more elaborate might describe it as well.

Libertine had joined the recent campaign for the promotion of Victorian agricultural product: “Put Victoria on your table”. All the ingredients for the various dishes cam from the state of Victoria. As a person believing in free trade and global markets, this type of promotion is not my favourite one.

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I find that Libertine’s two- and three course-meals are moderately priced. If you dine out in the Yarra Valley, for instance, you have to fork out much more for a comparable meal than here in the middle of town.

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The great surprise was that there was no French wine coming with the meal (all ingredients Victorian of course so how could there be French wine?). Instead, the wines came from the Yarra Valley. We were delighted to see two Yering Farm Wines, the ‘2008 Run Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc’ and the ‘2004 Foxtrot Cabernet’ made by Alan Johns, who coincidentally also makes our Two Hills wines. Both wines were a good choice for this kind of cuisine. The SB was fruity and crisp, the Cabernet round and well balanced.

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Some of us had the Port Arlington mussels…

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…followed by the “Marmite Dieppoise” with Port Phillip Bay scallops.

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Others choose the beef which came from Gippsland (apologies for the bad photo above).

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Joe went a la carte and ordered the hare. Libertine is famous for the quality of its game.

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The girls ordered a la carte as well and went for assorted fish.

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For the ones of us who did not have to drive, the Yering Farm Wines, were like a dessert. But we had some sweets afterwards just that I did not take any photos. The time was running faster than usual (that’s how it is with good friends and good food). We enjoyed the atmosphere, the warm hospitality and the friendly staff at Libertine as long as we could but finally had to part company and say good bye to our friends.

Until we meet again, maybe at Libertine (very likely indeed). In a rather joyous mood we returned to the vineyard in Glenburn.

The casual visitor to Melbourne, however, should not waste time searching for a good place to eat excellent food. Just go to Libertine, and you’ll be right mate.

Address:
Libertine‎
500 Victoria St, North Melbourne VIC 3051, Australia‎ – (03) 9329 5228‎
Rated 4.1 out of 5.0 16 reviews

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Restaurant Review: Libertine in Melbourne

January 22, 2009

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During the four weeks in Glenburn, Victoria I made it to the big city (= Melbourne) only once. My friend Tony Arthur had organised a lunch with Joe and Helen and myself at “Libertine”, a French restaurant in North Melbourne.

When Tony mentioned the name of the place we were supposed to meet in town over the phone, I was already enthralled. For a liberal like me, “libertine” augured well, promising freedom of French provenance.

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The restaurant is tucked away between various other entrances and not easily glimpsed. I came in my pick-up truck from the countryside and had to circle the place.

The dining area downstairs is rather small but I understand they have more facilities upstairs. When I arrived at 12:30 sharp, my friends had already assembled. Most tables were still empty but that would change very quickly. The place was packed just a little later.

Tony, Helen and Joe had been travelling together in France. As a native of Trier, Mosel, just a few kilometres from France I am not exactly a stranger to French culture and cuisine and consider myself a “francophile”.

We started with aperitifs. I was introduced to a Floc de Gascogne. Based on a XVI century local recipe, this is a fortified sweet wine, a blend so to say, between fresh grape juice (2/3) and Armagnac (1/3). It is kept for about 10 months in the cellar. The aromas it displays are almond, jasmine, roses and honey. The alcohol content of the drink varies between 16 and 18%.

Also the second aperitif, a Pommeau de Normandie was a “mistelle”, in this case a mixture of apple juice with Calvados. It’s usually aged in oak barrels for about 30 months and contains 17% alcohol. The drink displays aromas of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavours.

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The Pommeau de Normandie

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The Floc de Gascogne

The next two photos introduce the diners. A happy lot they were. We had not met for more than a year. It was easy to lure me down to town from my farm upcountry in the Upper Goulburn to meet up and dwell on the happenings of the past months.

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Tony and Joe

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Helen and me

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My steak

We all ordered the set menue were you have a couple of choices. I opted for the fresh onion soup, followed by a steak. The dessert I choose was a “tarte de pomme”, all very delicious. The service was relaxed but very attentive; the food of an excellent quality and taste for a very reasonable price.

We were also advised on the wines. We went with the house wine, all from bottles, a Roundstone Cabernet Merlot from the Yarra Valley. Helen had a Lis Neris Bianco from Italy. The blokes followed up with a glass of Tempranillo but by that time we were beyond producers and other wine information. I just did not record any of it any more because we were deep in philosophical conversation about love, life and the universe.

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The dessert

We had a coffee at the end, bid each other farewell and scattered in all direction with the sincere promise to repeat this as soon as possible but latest at our next visit in Australia.

The Libertine is a great restaurant. If you visit Melbourne you should schedule a meal either lunch or dinner with your friends in this atmospheric little place.

Address:
Libertine
500 Victoria Stret
North Melbourne 3051
Melbourne, Victoria
Australia
Tel.:+61-3-93295228
http://www.libertinedining.com.au