About a month ago while I was in India I got a text from Andy reading "Just saw MANU!!!!!" For those who don't know, Manu is a celebrity chef here in Australia, one of the judges on My Kitchen Rules. Yes, ok, so we've been watching the show rather religiously, which is a bit embarrassing to admit, but there is just something that about the show that makes it hard to stop watching. Perhaps it is the sexy French chef, Manu? Who knows...
Anyway turns out he has opened a restaurant about a 3 minute walk from our house with fellow celebrity chef George Calombaris (of Masterchef fame). The location is on the former site of Mama Baba, where we took Alison to eat when she visited last July.
So of course we had to book reservations at Le Grande Cirque to check it out for ourselves. Andy has a 'man crush' on Manu that I didn't quite grasp the extent of until we visited his restaurant. We took our friends Alan and Aaron with us, who before going seemed unimpressed with the whole 'Manu' thing, as they aren't as into My Kitchen Rules as we are (probably a good thing!)
We had an amazing table right across from the open kitchen and to our surprise Manu was actually working! He was like, right there, coordinating all the orders, occasionally cutting up bread faster than I've ever seen anyone cut bread before, and at times having a strong word with some of his chefs. (To be fair, from my days of waitressing in fine dining, he seemed pretty calm and relaxed compared to the chefs I have worked with.) Well, if Alan and Aaron were not fussed about eating at Manu's restaurant they certainly changed their tune once they saw him! The three of them were totally embarrassing as they tried to covertly snap pics of him on their phones.
|Pretending to take a pic of Alan|
The food was 'down-to-earth French food' that was meant for sharing - sort of a tapas style french menu, if that makes sense? The food did not disappoint, it was all amazing, especially the 'Friture de Crevettes' (crispy prawns with aioli) and the 'petites betteraves, carottes & chevres' (baby beetroot, carrot and goat's curd salad). Aaron and Alan were doing a 'detox' so we tried to stay on the healthy side, although Andy and I did order the beef special which came with a blue cheese sauce (not healthy but soooooo good). We also didn't order any dessert, however they looked amazing and so we will definitely need to go back. Good wine list as well, and the prices were pretty average for Melbourne.
At the end Manu came and took a few photos with us - he was a pretty good sport about it and was taking pictures with lots of customers when he had a chance. He was very funny and chatty and even pretended to kiss Andy in a photo once he heard about the man crush (I was cut out of this photo!) We also got his cookbook which he signed, which was totally an impulse buy but I will enjoy trying out some of his dishes.
|Me, Andy and Manu|
|I was cut out of this one|