Restaurant review: Fre-Jac, Balingup

16 12 2007

We went to the French restaurant (Fre-Jac) in Balingup, Western Australia for my birthday on Friday night.  Here’s the review I submitted to the EatingWA website:

Overall, we were disappointed.

We shared the Canapes Nicois ($12) for entree. I’m not sure what I expected, but a single slice of slightly warmed/toasted soft brown bread spread lavishly with honey and topped with a blob of goat’s cheese wasn’t it. My previous experience with goat’s cheese has been that it’s quite sharp—this had no discernible flavour at all, or else it was so overpowered by the sweetness of the honey that you just couldn’t taste the cheese. Somewhere in the cheese was meant to be some basil, but I couldn’t taste that either even though I could see little bits of green. I guess I expected canapes to be bite-size pieces, not a single slice of bread plopped on a layer of English Spinach leaves. The over-powering honey flavour spoilt this dish for us as we expected something sharp to prepare our palates for the main course.

We both ordered the beef fillet ($25) for mains—mine medium-rare, my husband’s medium-well. Parts of mine were medium-rare, the rest was very rare, almost raw; my husband’s was medium at best and had more ‘pink’ than he likes. Again, our expectations weren’t met. The beef was served with prunes in a madeira sauce (well, maybe the tablespoon of liquid could be called a sauce… at a pinch), and with boiled potatoes. There was NO salad or vegetables available on the menu, and none on the plates either—not even as a garnish. This was a meat and potatoes dish only, and was very heavy on the palate as a result (maybe that’s why they serve prunes with it?). And for me, eating the almost raw meat at the thick end of the steak was nearly stomach turning.

The desserts ($9.50) looked interesting, but we were taken by the cheeseboard ($15) as the description was that all the cheeses were imported from France. This was probably the biggest disappointment of a disappointing night. A large dinner plate was served with two paper-thin slices of two different hard cheeses, a largish slab of a soft melting cheese, and small wedge of something that looked like it was found behind the fridge, and two small wedges of a blue cheese. With this came five—yes, five—tiny rounds of bread no more than an inch across. And that was it. No crackers, no fruit, nothing to fill the spaces of the huge plate. And nothing to eat the cheese with except these five tiny rounds of bread. It would’ve taken more bread just to do the soft cheese justice, let alone the rest. As for the cheeses themselves, I liked the soft one, and had tastes of the paper-thin ones, but didn’t touch the wedges as I’m not a fan of blue cheese or stuff with so much mould on it that’s it’s not even recognisable as cheese. My husband’s face on trying some of these cheeses was a sight—I’ve never seen him drink copious amounts of water at the dinner table before. Let’s just leave it at that.

The service was perfunctory. The ambience was nice—a room in an old house, with cloth napery and decent cutlery. Though I’m not sure about the little stones on the table—I was tempted to play ‘knucklebones’ with them!

There’s a $45 fixed price menu which is the same as the a la carte menu, but works out slightly cheaper if you want a three course meal. The choice of entrees includes snails, scallops, a zucchini tart (or quiche?), and the canape nicois we had; the choice for main course was from rabbit, beef fillet, duck, and fish of the day; and there were also four desserts to choose from as well as the cheeseboard: creme brulee, raspberry parfait, hazelnut and chocolate something, and a fruit salad type dish.

Would we go back? Unlikely.



One response

22 12 2007

Great review. Pretty rare that people ever take the time to actually write a review that’s worth reading. We’d welcome your reviews on our website any time. If only all our reviewers were like you!

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