The difference of opinions when it comes to restaurants, and each particular experience, can be incredible. It dawned on me that my first experience at L’Hotel Gitan was not characteristic of this good looking venue. So, a couple of years ago I didn’t share my thoughts, but I am now.
Whereas my first experience was in a large group, upstairs in the private room, this time was downstairs where it’s at. I often discount group experiences because the most usual setting is a table of two to four people. While today we have seven for a group leaving lunch, the restaurant is not even half full, so there’s no pressure on the chefs or floorstaff.
The first thing noticed by the table was that the L’Hotel version of Gitan is a bit fancier than the Bistro version. It is a stylish room, that feels adequately French. The banquettes are comfortable, and the semi-private booth looks very cool indeed.
We are here to relax and see off a good friend and colleague. Three courses are a must. Personally I find the menu a bit finicky with a lot of choices, and a touch of confusion between sharing or not. In the end a few of us decide to share some entrees, but we all have our own main.
My shared entrees are the crispy duck, lamb skewer, and king prawn. The latter is perfectly cooked, with a crisp quick fried tempura style batter. The lamb skewer is tiny, and definitely not packed with enough flavour or richness, to compensate. The crispy duck is a curious dish too, not because you expect more for the spend, but there is a questionable amount of duck.
For my main I selected a scotch fillet steak, and I was happy with the product. It was medium-rare, and most mouthfuls were good. Across from me, B2 had ordered exactly the same steak, cooked the same way, but it was not as good. Seems I was the lucky one today! The bearnaise was well prepared, and the chips great too. For around $40 though you might expect a bit more impact.
The chocolate millefeuille was a big way to finish. Presented in style by the pastry chefs, this take on a millefeuille is generous and rich, exactly what you want at the end of a French meal. The use of a biscuit base, over the traditional lighter pastry, is probably the only fault, because the pastry is normally there to provide some balance.
I can see reasons why locals would like the comfortable and warm setting, but there was little to rave about. Some tweaks are needed to take L’Hotel Gitan to the next level. On the whole, this was a pleasant lunch, with nice food, and good service.